Smartwatch Users Beware – Report Identifies Vulnerabilities in Wearable Devices

In the past, we reported how your wearable fitness trackers can be hacked. Now, The university of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s associate professor Romit Roy Choudhry used a local app on Samsung Gear Live smartwatch to check the way data typed by a user got leaked due to the device’s motion sensors.

According to Roy: “The project, called Motion Leaks through Smartwatch Sensors(MoLe), has privacy suggestions, as an app that is hidden as a pedometer, could gather data from emails, other confidential documents, and search queries.”

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In simple words, if you are wearing a smartwatch and typing on a keyboard, the vulnerable motion sensors on your smartwatch can expose what you are typing. However, at this time the team can’t detect special characters such as symbols, numbers and punctuation used in passwords.

Researchers at the university said that on wearable devices, the Sensor data can be regarded as a double-edged sword. It is true that the device’s connection to human body offers vital awareness into human health condition and similar stuff and this account for in-depth human privacy violation.

The primary challenge is in detecting what can and cannot be removed from Sensor data. The Mole project can be termed as a significant step in this direction.

For instance, if the sample normal rate of your smart watch sensors is around 200Hertz, then this means the system logs 200 accelerometers and gyroscope readings every second. If this number goes below 15, the wrist movements of the user become really hard to track. 

A video released by the university demonstrates the vulnerabilities:

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A good solution to such motion leaks would be to keep the sample rate of the smart watch sensors at the lowest level.

University of Illinois


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