Google Research

Side-Channel Inference Attacks on Mobile Keypads using Smartwatches

IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, vol. 17 (2018), pp. 760-774


Smartwatches enable many novel applications and are fast gaining popularity. However, the presence of a diverse set of on-board sensors provides an additional attack surface to malicious software and services on these devices. In this paper, we investigate the feasibility of key press inference attacks on handheld numeric touchpads by using smartwatch motion sensors as a side-channel. We consider different typing scenarios, and propose multiple attack approaches to exploit the characteristics of the observed wrist movements for inferring individual key presses. Experimental evaluation using a commercial off-the-shelf smartwatch and smartphone show that key press inference using smartwatch motion sensors is not only fairly accurate, but also better than similar attacks previously demonstrated using smartphone motion sensors. Additionally, hand movements captured by a combination of both smartwatch and smartphone motion sensors yields better inference accuracy than either device considered individually.

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