Hardware

Smudge Attacks on Smartphone Touch Screens

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Executive Summary

Touch screens are an increasingly common feature on personal computing devices, especially smartphones, where size and user interface advantages accrue from consolidating multiple hardware components (keyboard, number pad, etc.) into a single software definable user interface. Oily residues, or smudges, on the touch screen surface, are one side effect of touches from which frequently used patterns such as a graphical password might be inferred. In this paper examine the feasibility of such smudge attacks on touch screens for smartphones, and focus the analysis on the Android password pattern. The author first investigate the conditions (e.g., lighting and camera orientation) under which smudges are easily extracted. In the vast majority of settings, partial or complete patterns are easily retrieved.

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