Researchers at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) have shown even without a data cable, hackers can analyze a device's power needs to access users' private information, with speed and accuracy depending on several factors.
These side-channel attacks are successful because "Web pages have a signature that reflects the way they load and consume energy," according to NYIT professor Paolo Gasti.
The study involved using power use signatures previously identified and tested under various conditions. After collecting power traces via a range of smartphones browsing popular websites, the researchers launched attacks and checked the accuracy with which their algorithms could determine which sites were visited while the phones were plugged in.
Regardless of the conditions, the researchers determined even the slower and less accurate attempts at penetration were still accurate within six seconds about 50% of the time.
From New York Institute of Technology
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