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Google Glass Snoopers Can Steal Your Passcode With a Glance

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A young woman wearing a Google Glass prototype.

New software may be used to read four-digit PIN codes typed onto an iPad using video from wearable devices such as Google Glass.

Credit: Associated Press

University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell researchers have developed software that uses video from wearable devices such as Google Glass and smartwatches to read four-digit PIN codes typed onto an iPad from almost 10 feet away, and from almost 150 feet with a high-definition camcorder.

The software involves a custom-coded video-recognition algorithm that tracks the shadows from finger taps and could recognize the codes even when the video did not capture any images on the target devices' displays.

"I think of this as a kind of alert about Google Glass, smartwatches, all these devices," says UMass Lowell professor Xinwen Fu. "If someone can take a video of you typing on the screen, you lose everything."

The researchers found that Google Glass identified the four-digit PIN from three meters away with 83 percent accuracy, while webcam video revealed the code 92 percent of the time. The software also can identify passcodes even when the screen is unreadable based on the iPad's geometry and the position of the user's fingers.

The software maps an image of the angled iPad onto a "reference" image of the device, then looks for the abrupt down and up movements of the dark crescents that represent the fingers' shadows.

Fu plans to present the findings with his students at the Black Hat security conference in August.

From Wired News
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