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As research has shown, the results of which were shared in the journal Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, smartphone sensors can be used by hackers to easily capture passwords and other valuable information typed on computers. These sensors allow to detect sound waves emitted when hitting individual keyboard keys and to interpret them later.

Tests conducted by scholars have shown that the accuracy of this method of obtaining passwords is surprisingly effective. An experienced hacker could easily decipher what keys the victim was pressing, and thus – what characters she typed. So it poses a great threat to people who use laptops or computers in public places – libraries, cafes or on trains.

The method is effective even in the company of high noise, even in a conference room where everyone talks or uses computers. To prove this, the researchers conducted an experiment – they placed a group of people in the conference room who were to communicate verbally and create notes on laptops. At various distances from laptops – from 2.5 centimeters to 3 meters – telephones were placed. The participants did not receive any script containing what they were supposed to say. In addition, they were allowed to enter shortcuts and full sentences on the laptop, and to correct mistakes.

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As it turned out, despite the noise, researchers were able to capture information typed on keyboards in just a few seconds. It doesn’t bode well.

“We wanted to understand whether what is written on the laptop keyboard or any other keyboard can only be captured with the help of cell phones placed on the same table. The answer is definitely yes! “Said Professor Eric Larson, co-author of the article describing the study. “We were able to detect what people write with 41% accuracy.”

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Since the sensors contained in smartphones can serve as a hacker tool, their manufacturers should at least try to hinder the process of accessing them, if at all possible. Researchers are of the same opinion. The method is particularly dangerous because potential victims are completely unaware that their data has been stolen.