Research shows that hackers can use this everyday cellphone sensor to track your movements — and it’s not GPS

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

A newly-released academic paper suggests that even without tapping into a GPS hackers can learn your movements through your cellphone with shocking accuracy, according to the Daily Dot. These findings come from Chinese researchers who were able to hack into users’ cellphones and use the device’s accelerometer — the sensor used to track your phone’s tilt and motion — to pinpoint where they traveled on a Chinese subway system. The underlying theory of the paper is that smartphone accelerometers can be used by hackers to create a blueprint of motion. That is, subway stations are connected by jerky tracks and no two subway station’s connections are the same. Thus these researchers were able to record and analyze the “motion patterns” of trains to learn which certain set of motions correlated to which station. Every station has a unique fingerprint of motion, and if hackers learned to identify and recognize them they would be able to know where a person was just by analyzing the way their cellphone moved. It may sound like it would take hackers a long time to learn the motion patterns for each station, but the researchers tracked people with over 85% accuracy and only collected data […]

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