Demo of iPad Passcode Theft via Google Glass Highlights Benefits of Touch ID

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Looking over a nearby person's shoulder is a common technique used to steal a PIN code for a device that is targeted for imminent theft. But as reported by Wired, a research team from the University of Massachusetts Lowell has taken this shoulder surfing trick to a whole new level by increasing the working distance and automating the process using Google Glass and other similar camera-equipped, mobile products.

    The UMass Lowell researchers improved passcode theft by analyzing video captured from wearable and mobile devices such as Google Glass, the Samsung Gear smartwatch and the iPhone. The system anlyzes the incoming video using a custom video recognition algorithm that detects the shadows from finger taps and uses that information to predict PINs codes. Unlike the standard over-the-shoulder method that requires a direct view of the target device's display, the UMass method also can be employed at an indirect angle, allowing someone to steal a password while standing at your side.

    UMass researchers capturing PIN codes using Google Glass
    (Image from Cyber Forensics Laboratory at University of Massachusetts Lowell)
    The system is surprisingly accurate -- allowing a malicious user to capture PIN codes inconspicuously with at least 83 percent accuracy from a distance as far as three meters. This accuracy was improved to more than 90 percent when a sharper camera such as the iPhone was used or manual error correction by the researchers was added to the video analysis.
    The researchers didn't test longer passwords, but believe they could reach an accuracy rate of 78 percent when stealing an 8-digit password from a device such as the iPad. If you are concerned about password hacking, your best line of defense is to cover your display as you type or when possible do away with a PIN code entirely such as by using the Touch ID fingerprint in the iPhone 5s.

    With the results of this study, the researchers hope to convince mobile operating system companies to improve the security of their PIN input screens by taking steps such as randomizing the layout of the keypad.

    Apple's Touch ID fingerprint authentication is of course another alternative to traditional passcodes. The feature launched on the iPhone 5s last year and is expected to make its way to the iPad and iPad mini later this year. Aside from increased security compared to passcodes, Touch ID has also increased usage of security features, with Apple noting during its WWDC presentation earlier this month that passcode/Touch ID usage has risen to 83% on the iPhone 5s, up from just 49% passcode usage previously.

    Article Link: Demo of iPad Passcode Theft via Google Glass Highlights Benefits of Touch ID
  2. Bearxor macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2007
    Randomizing the layout of the keypad for PIN entry is a great idea.
  3. spacemanspifff macrumors 6502


    Jan 23, 2010
    Hey thief - why not try this...

    Couldn't these researchers be doing something more worthwhile with their time? I can't see any value in them proving that they can do this kind of thing other than highlighting the possibility of this to would be thieves.

    At least Apple is a step ahead of these people with Touch ID.
  4. dumbthought macrumors newbie

    Oct 2, 2012

    Such a situation can become impossible to avoid in a crowded place.
  5. AngerDanger, Jun 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014

    AngerDanger macrumors 68030

    Dec 9, 2008
    Google presents the thief of tomorrow! And boy is he ever angsty about his social ineptitude…

  6. 2010mini macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    Highlighting security flaws is always a good thing. It helps manufactures and consumers be more aware.
  7. Reason077 macrumors 68000


    Aug 14, 2007
    Better headline:

    "Google demonstrates nefarious device that enables hackers and criminals to steal your personal data."
  8. Yakibomb macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2014
    Cape Town
    This would be great, but I can imagine a large number of users would opt against this as it would increase the time required to login
  9. Kryckter macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2009
    And it reminds me to use my touchID at all times! :D
  10. kwokaaron macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2013
    Lesson learnt: Keep your friends close, but your devices closer. :D
  11. Yakibomb macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2014
    Cape Town
    I think this type of research is extremely useful. It creates greater awareness in consumers to the faults in their devices, which in turn leads to companies seeking ways to combat these flaws
  12. nerdAFK macrumors regular


    Apr 24, 2014
    There is indeed an exact Jailbreak tweak which does this.
  13. macduke macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Great in theory, terrible in practice. Many people can type their passcode without even looking, or at the least very quickly because they know the sequence. If you increase the complexity, more people will opt to not use a passcode at all.

    For a pure touch-based visual input method, using a gesture would probably be the hardest to for a machine to decipher from more extreme angles and distances. Otherwise Touch ID is the best choice.

    I love it when Apple solves problems before they are even problems.
  14. TsunamiTheClown macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2011
  15. zelman macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2004
    There's also one that makes your pin the current time. I think that's even better. A password that changes every minute!
  16. troop231 macrumors 603

    Jan 20, 2010
    Someone with Google Glass on in a public restroom is asking for trouble, even if they're not 'using' it.
  17. UncleSchnitty, Jun 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014

    UncleSchnitty macrumors 6502a


    Oct 26, 2007
    What a terrible picture to prove a point. I think its safe to say that I would know who stole my device, and I don't pull my fingers 3 inches away with each button press while my device is on a table. hah. I get the point but if someone is starring at you while you type your password hold your device close, especially if they have their eyes closed as if to say "see Im not looking"

    Also watch out for this guy:
  18. gotluck macrumors 603


    Dec 8, 2011
    East Central Florida
    This has always been a problem though. Many times you can tell based on fingerprints on the screen or even a regular camera. Glass is just easier way to snoop
  19. H2SO4 macrumors 68040

    Nov 4, 2008
    I always thought this about CCTV near Chip&Pin pads in supermarkets.
  20. Alenore macrumors 6502

    Apr 7, 2013
    You mean what people used to do years ago with their cellphone camera to play prank at school? Wow.
  21. John.B macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2008
    Holocene Epoch
    Don't worry about your iOS passcodes, worry about your credit card PINs. The new chip-and-PIN standard coming to the US puts all responsibility for unauthorized purchases on the cardholder, and this underscores how easy it is for a thief to learn your PIN.
  22. BenTrovato macrumors 68020


    Jun 29, 2012
    Wait until Google Glass gets a little fancier.. they'll be stealing a lot more than Passwords.

    Inventing something like Touch ID is mandatory unfortunately (or fortunately). Once they develop algorithms they'll be able track people. If you walk to work everyday, G Glass can pick out what people do. For example, if G Glass picks out a man who always stops at Starbucks at 850am. You know he's not home at that time. You know he's about to make a transaction. He may be on social media at that time. Lots of data, becomes a target for theft.

    When normal people have access to AI algorithms, how we operate in the world will have to change. Touch ID is only the beginning.
  23. doelcm82 macrumors 68040


    Feb 11, 2012
    Florida, USA
    Randomizing the positions of the numbers is an interesting idea. But it's not a good one for the reason you stated. The biometric approach (TouchID) is a better idea.

    Making it harder to unlock your device = Fewer users locking their devices.
    Making it easier to unlock your device = More users locking their devices.

    Also, anyone who could see your screen when it asks for your unlock code would also see the key layout. Especially since you would enter your unlock code hesitantly.
  24. H2SO4 macrumors 68040

    Nov 4, 2008
    I made a statement about this earlier. It doesn’t seem to have been an issue at all over here in the Uk.
  25. John.B macrumors 601


    Jan 15, 2008
    Holocene Epoch
    The swype-style gesture unlock codes are probably the easiest for someone looking over your shoulder to remember.

    IMO, Touch ID makes it easier to have a more complex passcode, because you only need to use it under certain circumstances (i.e. after a restart).

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