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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Your Smartphone's Next Trick? Fighting Cybercrime

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Identifying smartphones by examining a single photo they take.

University at Buffalo researchers have developed a way to identify smartphones by examining the flaws in a single photo taken by the device.

Credit: Douglas Levere

Researchers at the University at Buffalo (UB) have identified smartphones by examining a single photo taken by the device, opening up the possibility of using smartphones as a form of identification to deter cybercrime.

"Each device, regardless of the manufacturer or make, can be identified through a pattern of microscopic imaging flaws that are present in every picture they take," says UB's Kui Ren.

The researchers made the discovery by examining an obscure flaw in digital imaging called photo-response non-uniformity (PRNU). Extracting PRNU data from digital cameras required analyzing 50 photos taken by the camera, but a smartphone has a much smaller image sensor, which amplifies the pixels' dimensional non-uniformity and generates a much stronger PRNU.

In order to prevent forgeries, the researchers have designed a PRNU-based protocol that detects and stops three of the most common tactics used by cybercriminals, including fingerprint forgery attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, and replay attacks.

From University at Buffalo News
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