A research team from the Georgia Institute of Technology claims to have discovered a keyboard keylogger attack that is performed using an iPhone’s accelerometer. However, the situation has to be so precise — and is so unlikely — that if you’re a victim of this attack you really are one of the unluckiest people on the planet.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t fair to call them “paranoid researchers,” but this is how these guys claim your information can be obtained: Firstly, attackers must install a keylogger on your iPhone so that they can record the vibrations picked up by your iPhone’s accelerometer. Then, your iPhone must be placed “within a few inches” of your computer’s keyboard, so that the iPhone can detect the vibrations made when you type away on your computer’s keyboard — not your iPhone’s keyboard.
Patrick Traynor, assistant professor at the Georgia Tech’s School of Computer Science, says:
“Every time you touch a key you create a physical vibration and it’s recorded by the accelerometer in the phone.”
What baffles me is how your iPhone translates those vibrations into letters. I mean, as far as I can tell, my keyboard makes the same vibration when I press the letter B than it does when I press the letter S, so how does the iPhone tell the difference?
In order to protect yourself from this attack, Traynor says, you can move your iPhone at least half a foot away from your keyboard. Or you could try not to make vibrations while you work.
While the likelihood of this attack is incredibly remote, Traynor says, “We just want people to take a realistic look at this.”
Will you be moving your iPhone away from your computer’s keyboard in future?