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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Glassholes" Can Steal Your Password, Forensic Experts Say

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 7:49 AM

  • KRON4

Much of the backlash against Google Glass is either emotional or aesthetic -- an understandable reaction to the sight of ugly, $1,500 face computers in a city already despoiled by tech.

But now, cyber forensics researchers at the University of Massachusetts have given us a better reason to despise the technology.

It turns out so-called Google Glass "Explorers" can steal your passwords without even seeing them. And they can do it from up to 15 feet away.

Such tricks require a bit of extra machinery -- namely, software that the researchers invented to trace the shadows of fingertips as they type a password into a phone. That digital "fingerprint" gets processed through an algorithm and mapped back to the individual keys that the fingers were touching.

From there, it's easy for the Glass-wearer to hack the device and get access to your entire personal information storage house.

Researchers say the Glass spying software is far more effective than, say, standing behind someone and watching as they type a password into email, or lingering over someone's shoulder at an ATM. (At the very least, the person lingering would cast a shadow.)

Granted, this isn't the first time that outsiders have questioned the surveillance properties of Google Glass. Congress is investigating privacy risks posed by the new technology. A coterie of inventors already filed a patent for shielding devices that would protect the average person from video surveillance.

In press statements, Google representatives insist that Glass is too brightly-lit, and obtrusive, to serve as a spying gadget.

This demo from KRON 4 seems to prove them wrong:

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


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