20 August 2019

phone hacking password

Could your smartphone be used to secretly reveal your passwords?

We all know the basics of keeping passwords safe, right? Long passwords with both upper and lower cases, numbers and symbols. Never giving your password to someone else, etc etc etc. I am sure you’re probably sick of hearing these tips and hints!

However, did you know that criminals could now work out your passwords by listening to you type? It’s James Bond style cunning come to life! A report by Southern Methodist University in Texas found that smartphones can listen in to the soundwaves we produce when typing on a computer keyboard. Then using certain tools, these sounds can be translated into which keys were pressed, in which order with 41% accuracy rate! When commonly used words are used, the accuracy increases.

The research argues that if you couldn’t install keylogger software onto a PC (to track when keyboard buttons are pressed), you could instead install listening software on the smartphone – which more often than not sits on the desk alongside the keyboard. This gives you the same opportunities to pinch key passwords and gain access to accounts.

Whilst this practice may be more concept that mainstream at the moment, it highlights how creative hackers are getting to gain access to our data online. The personal information that we input, our communications and everyday online lives are hugely valuable. Often, I think many of us are guilty of forgetting that fact, and taking security for granted.

I have heard about people having post-it notes with passwords scrawled on them, stuck to monitors! Or even password books!

Security is more than a password

In this day and age, we absolutely need to be smarter with our passwords and look at the plethora of options for two-factor authentication. This brings a secondary element to the login –a code sent to your phone once you’ve put the password in for example.

We also need to set ourselves up to be safer with our smartphones. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen smartphones increase in capability, power and functionality. However, whilst we’ve been waiting for the latest innovations, I wonder if many of us have overlooked the potential consequences of having this technology beside you 24/7/365.

I suspect that if you were asked to keep a microphone on you at all times you might protest. Equally, a camera that can record video as well as stills, and has facial recognition functionality. There’s also a fingerprint reader there too. Oh, and there’s access to your banking, travel, health, shopping and work information.

Imagine all of this getting into the wrong hands! Yet, how often do you press ‘remind me later’ when a software update or patch pops up? This update is the very basis of securing your phone and should be a priority.

So, whilst password-snooping phones may very much be in their infancy, they bring a stark reminder for all of us. Be password smart, and be smartphone smart.


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