There’s already been a public backlash against the latest wearable computing technology. This futuristic-looking device, the most famous of which is called Google Glass, resembles something right out of a science fiction movie, but it has security industry experts all too concerned about what it could be used for.
The device works like a mini computer screen that is only visible to the wearer and appears in the corners of his vision. One of the top criticisms of this device—which resembles a pair of glasses, only there are no lenses and the frame doesn’t wrap all the way around the eyes—is that users can record other people without their knowledge. Outsiders looking in would have no way of knowing someone has the device even turned on, let alone that he’s recording them.
But new research has been reported that shows Google Glass wearers are capable of an even bigger danger, such as stealing passwords from as far away as 140 feet despite any glare protection on the victim’s computer, tablet, or smartphone. New software developed by researchers to test out this danger provided some staggering results on how effective a tool this could be for thieves.
The software—which was tested and proven effective on recordings made by Google Glass, cell phone cameras, camcorders, and webcams—works by recording the shadow of where the password is entered, rather than just trying to grab the actual digits the victim typed. In this way, a thief could easily record hours of footage in the same public place on the same day, storing that information up for future use.
Part of what makes this possible crime so scary is there’s no guaranteed way to know if someone is doing it. Unfortunately, some businesses have already started discriminating against Google Glass and other wearable tech users by requiring them to either remove the device or leave the premises. Those companies are trying to act in the best interests of their customers by protecting their privacy and their security, but they’re doing so by infringing on the freedom of other people.
Technology will undoubtedly catch up to this new threat to your security, but in the meantime, the best course of action is to behave as though anyone in your vicinity is possibly accessing your private data. Be aware of where you’re sitting if you’re entering a password in public, especially if it’s a crowded location like a mall or restaurant since this affords a would-be thief a greater sense of anonymity. Even if you’re simply tapping the passcode to unlock your phone or tablet, you’ve just armed a criminal with the digits to open your device if he steals it, which could then lead to a greater breach of your personal data once he works his way inside your apps or email.
Try to avoid accessing sensitive accounts from public places, which is a good habit to get into for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the potential for a hacker to access your data through a public hotspot or unguarded network. If you have to log into something sensitive like your bank account, be aware of anyone who seems to be suspiciously lurking or has been hanging out in the area for a lengthy period of time. Don’t feel like you have to hunch over your device for your own safety, but don’t blithely flash your phone or tablet while you type in your password or passcode.
If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Anyone3 fundraising campaign. For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.