At Tech Orchard, we’ve spoken with clients and written about the importance of taking precautionary security measures to protect mobile devices. For most users, the first step is setting a password to lock their smartphone or tablet. PINs and thumbprints are options available on devices from various manufacturers, while pattern lock is widely used as a mechanism for authentication and authorization on Android devices. Unfortunately for pattern lock users, this security method may be anything but secure.
Researchers from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom presented findings at The Network and Distributed System Security Symposium 2017 of a study indicating that video and computer vision algorithm software can typically crack a pattern lock in fewer than five attempts. What’s worse, it can do so without even seeing the screen itself. Tests of video-based attacks were successful in reconstructing Android lock patterns from video footage filmed using a mobile phone camera 95% of the time, and 97.5% of the time when more complex patterns were used.
Using footage of a user inputting his or her Android pattern lock, computer vision algorithm then analyzed the fingertip movements to infer a pattern. Researchers tested 120 patterns collected from 215 users and found that more complex patterns are even more vulnerable because they limit the number of working possibilities. A Phys.org article detailing the research indicated that mobile video can produce accurate results from up to 2.5 meters (or just over 8 feet) away, or up to 9 meters (nearly 30 feet) away using SLR footage. Though researchers only discussed these two types of video, the application for security camera footage could indicate the potential for more serious, widespread threats in the future.
The research paper suggests that users consider covering their hands when entering their pattern lock to avoid making their fingertip patterns traceable, or to set the screen brightness to change quickly to throw off any recording.
“Since our threat model is common in day-to-day life, this paper calls for the community to revisit the risks of using Android pattern lock to protect sensitive information,” researchers stated.
Ultimately, Android users may want to consider an alternative form of device lock, or implement two-factor authentication to better protect themselves from potential adversaries. Businesses leveraging enterprise mobility may want to keep these recommendations in mind when developing policies and procedures for employees who are using mobile devices as part of their jobs. If you need help identifying ways to keep your organization’s devices safe regardless of operating system or device type, contact our team for help.
Early this year, we all watched the legal battle between Apple and the FBI unfold about access to the iPhone 5C used in the 2015 San Bernardino massacre. The feud ended, at least temporarily, on March 28 when the FBI withdrew its case from the courts after a third-party managed to unlock the device. With no real resolution provided, additional court cases have popped up surrounding the critical issue of digital privacy, and this month, the Florida Court of Appeals ruled that the government can force an iPhone user to release the passcode to unlock his/her phone.
After thorough research performed by our mobile threat prevention (MTP) partner, Check Point, a new and alarming type of malware campaign has been identified. Known as Gooligan, this malware is used to generate ad revenue on the Android platform. Check Point noted that as of the end of November, Gooligan had breached the security of more than one million Google accounts, with an additional 13,000 devices being impacted each day.
Financial services, and banking in particular, is an industry that has been and continues to be impacted dramatically by the evolution of technology. From mobile deposits and money transfers through apps to smart ATMs, a number of conveniences have been created that continue to shape customer expectations and loyalty. In fact, Business Insider recently posted an interesting summary of how device preferences for performing banking activities is changing.
As cybersecurity presents an increasingly complex and concerning environment for personal, business and government safety, attention to the secure use of mobile devices is more important than ever for individuals around the world. In fact, recent news of cybercriminals and hackers having connections deeply rooted in the Russian government, as well as the thousands of unauthorized “app stores” hosted in China, has underscored the growing number of threats in existence — and therefore a clear need to be proactive.