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Security flaw in handsets could let hackers LISTEN to you typing to steal your passwords

Daily Mail - Science & tech

You shouldn't let anyone see you enter your phone's login password -- but there could also be a danger from hackers hearing it over your smartphone's microphone. Experts from England and Sweden have shown how hacked microphones can be used to decode the sound of typing on a smartphone screen into the keys pressed. In a test, their algorithm could correctly guess 31 out of 50 four-digit login pins in just 10 attempts based on recordings made of the participants as they typed. These potential attacks would likely begin with the accidental download of malicious software -- so users should keep themselves safe by only using trusted apps. Limiting microphone access to only those apps that need it will also help to make your smartphone more secure.

Hey Alexa, what's my PIN? Voice assistants can figure out the taps made on a smartphone keyboard

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Alexa could be used by criminals to listen to and decipher a password or PIN being typed in on a nearby phone. Researchers from the University of Cambridge built their own version of a smart speaker to closely resemble those which are commercially available. Sound recordings from the gadget were inputted into a computer for analysis and experts investigated if the sound and vibrations caused by typing on a smartphone screen could be used to guess a five-digit passcode. When the phone was placed within 20cm (7.8inches) of the custom-built device, the computer was able to guess the code with 76 per cent accuracy in three attempts. This graphic outlines the general flow of the experiment.

The fastest phone typers can tap out 85 words-per-minute on touchscreens and match keyboard users

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The fastest texters have caught up with typists who use physical keyboards as experts find that touchscreen users can reach speeds of 85 words-per-minute. Researchers used an internet-based typing test to study how fast thousands of volunteers could transcribe sentences on both screens and keyboards. The team report that the fastest texters tended to be those who used both thumbs to type and also had some form of auto-correct turned on to assist them. An international team of researchers studied how people type using their touchscreens and real keyboards. They found that the gap between typing in the two ways is decreasing.

Towards Certifiable Adversarial Sample Detection Machine Learning

Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) are deployed in more and more classification systems, but adversarial samples can be maliciously crafted to trick them, and are becoming a real threat. There have been various proposals to improve CNNs' adversarial robustness but these all suffer performance penalties or other limitations. In this paper, we provide a new approach in the form of a certifiable adversarial detection scheme, the Certifiable Taboo Trap (CTT). The system can provide certifiable guarantees of detection of adversarial inputs for certain l sizes on a reasonable assumption, namely that the training data have the same distribution as the test data. We develop and evaluate several versions of CTT with a range of defense capabilities, training overheads and certifiability on adversarial samples. Against adversaries with various l p norms, CTT outperforms existing defense methods that focus purely on improving network robustness. We show that CTT has small false positive rates on clean test data, minimal compute overheads when deployed, and can support complex security policies.

The best touchscreen winter gloves


This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. After six years of testing, over the course of which we've examined 70 pairs of touchscreen gloves, we've found that though no pair is going to keep your hands warm and let you type as well as you can with your bare fingers, the Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap Fleece Gloves are the best compromise. They type pretty well, are warmer, and fit hands better than the competition. We also have picks that will fit better if you have short fingers, want a thinner glove, or prefer the classic look of leather. Just keep in mind it may be easier to use voice commands and audio messages than trying to type in even the best touchscreen gloves. The Black Diamond pair's stretchy fit hugs the hand like a second skin, making typing more accurate (keep in mind that you won't be able to type fluently, but these gloves work fine for making dinner plans while you're walking home from work on a chilly day). The fleece material also blocks out wind better than traditional knit fabrics, and is water-repellent, so drying time is just two hours.