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Research Hack Reveals Call Security Risk in Smartphones

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A man using a smartphone.

Malware created by academic researchers showed how smartphone call security can be compromised in three areas.

Credit: Texas A&M Engineering

A multi-institutional team of researchers developed malware to extract caller information by screening vibration data from ear speakers recorded by a smartphone's accelerometers.

The researchers used two newer Android phones, whose motion-sensor data is retrievable without requiring users' consent.

The models' larger speakers also provided more caller information than older models, allowing a machine learning algorithm to infer 45% to 90% of the word regions from their accelerometer data.

The researchers learned their EarSpy malware could identify repeat callers with 91.6% accuracy, determine the speaker's gender with 98.6% accuracy, and identify spoken numbers from zero to nine with 56% accuracy.

Texas A&M University's Ahmed Tanvir Mahdad said attackers would have to conceal EarSpy within a downloadable application to pull off the exploit.

From Texas A&M Engineering News
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