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Touchscreens on phones a security risk, researchers say

News by Todd Haselton on Friday August 13, 2010.

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According to a report by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, touchscreens on gadgets, such as smartphones, could pose a risk to your security? (PDF). The group presented at the USENIX Security Symposium in Washington, D.C. this week and claimed that the fingerprints left on a handset could be easily lifted and analyzed by would-be attackers.

"First, smudges are surprisingly persistent in time. Second, it is surprisingly difficult to incidentally obscure or delete smudges through wiping or pocketing the device. Third and finally, collecting and analyzing oily residue smudges can be done with readily available equipment such as a camera and a computer," the group claimed.

"The practice of entering sensitive information via touch screens needs careful analysis in light of our results," one member said.

The team specifically found that fingerprints left on Android devices could be used to identify the security code used in the password patterns on the phone, according to eweek.

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Todd Haselton
Todd is a senior editor at MobileBurn and works out of his home in New York City. He covers news for us and also writes reviews. You can follow him on Twitter at @RoboTodd

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