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Malware Can Track YourSmartphone via PowerUsage: Study (1 Viewer)


28 Sep 2013
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Without using location data, malicious
software can track your smartphone
simply by measuring the way it uses the
power, computer scientists have reported.

Location data is closely guarded by
many smartphone users.

That's why the Android and iOS
operating system prevent third party
apps from accessing location data
without the specific permission of the

But it turns out that malware can track
you anyway, without this data, MIT
Technology Review reported.

"Our approach enables known route
identification, real-time tracking, and
identification of a new route by only
analysing the phone's power
consumption," said Yan Michalevsky fro
the Stanford University in California.

The idea is that a smartphone's power
usage depends largely on the distance
from the nearest base station.

As a user moves, this distance changes,
increasing or decreasing the power
needed to communicate with a base

Given several different potential routes,
the power usage profile should reveal
which the user has taken.

To find this out, Michalevsky and his
colleagues created an Android app calle
PowerSpy that measures power usage.

They tested it on a number of Google
Nexus 4 devices. In total, they took 43
different power usage profiles on four
different routes each about 14 kms long.

They then analysed the power usage
profiles to see if they could determine
which route had been taken for each. It
turned out they could do this with
accuracy of 93 percent.

"We showed that applications that read
the phone's ampere meter can gain
information about the location of a
mobile device without accessing the GPS
or any other coarse location indicators,"
Michalevsky noted.

So what can be done to prevent this kin
of spying?

One option is to prevent apps gaining
access to power usage data at all.

Another option is to give apps access to
power usage data other than those
involved in radio communication.

"We suggest that supplying only
measurements of the power consumed b
the processors could be a reasonable
tradeoff between functionality and
privacy," the authors concluded.

Malware Can Track Your Smartphone via Power Usage: Study | NDTV Gadgets

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