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Security researcher Neal Hindocha has produced a proof-of-concept that demonstrates how specially designed malware could act as a “screen logger” to capture finger swipes on smart devices and potentially harvest sensitive information, such as screen lock PINs.

The malware concept he developed can monitor the X and Y coordinates or users touchscreen interactions, and combined with a feature that takes screenshots of the finger swipes, can capture the users interactions with the device and harvest the data.

“If you’re monitoring all touch events and the phone hasn’t been touched for at least one hour, then you get a minimum of four touch events, you can assume that is a PIN code being entered,” Hindocha told Forbes.

“The more interesting thing is, if you get a screenshot and then overlay the touch events, you’re looking at a screenshot of what the user is seeing, combined with dots, sequentially, where the user is touching the screen.”

Hindocha also said it was not difficult to get the malicious code to execute on “jailbroken iOS and rooted Android devices” and that the code could be relayed to Android smartphones when they are plugged in to a PC for charging.

He noted that the proof-of-concept does not mean that such attacks against users in immanent, as developing the malware on a large scale would require a great deal of resources, but that the method could be employed against high value targets.

“It’s more likely this could be used against specific users or companies. Targeted attacks are likely vectors,” Hindocha said.

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