back to article Boffins spy on iPhone screens from 200ft away

North Carolina boffins have been watching text entered into iPhones from 60 meters (197ft) behind the shoulders of users – or from the front, by reading the reflections in the users' glasses. The process uses a standard video camera. It is even possible using an iPhone's camera, though the range decreases and relies on the …


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  1. Hitco Tex

    Optical Phone Hacking

    So, If they can't hack into your phone digitally, They'll do it optically.....Why?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This isn't hacking it's surveillance.

      Please tell me you understand why people spy on each other.

  2. Mondo the Magnificent

    Eye spy

    Hmm, so who exactly would do this type of reflecto eavesdropping? Spies? Private investigators?

    This shouldn't impact on Mr. and Mrs. Average

    Another thing, most people tend to look down at the phone screen when sending texts, anyone who holds their smartphones at 90º when sending a text is probably a digital exhibitionist

    1. Annihilator


      Who needs to hold it at 90º? It's working on the reflection. Even if I had it on my lap, I'd only be tilting my head around 40-60 degrees, giving anyone in front of me with a perfect view via my (in this case non-existent) glasses.

      The biggest flaw in the scheme is that glasses wearers are in the minority.

  3. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

    lip reading through binoculars.

    Interesting work, but it still requires a steady handed operator plus stationary and unaware subject, or can they carry out this analysis from composite CCTV footage?

    Surely easier, more reliable, but probably less deniable, to intercept at the network message centre end.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      "can they carry out this analysis from composite CCTV footage?"

      Just wait for next episode of CSI. Or is NCIS ? I never watch them anyways.

    2. Sheli

      Keep moving!

      The best thing to do is for everyone to just text while walking and that way we can't be tracked.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alway knew

    You can't trust people wearing glasses, they shouldn't be allowed to work.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only last night, CSI:NY's horrific rip-off of 'Rear Window' saw the hero way ahead of mere science in being able to use his phone's video camera to see what number the protagonist was typing on his keypad in the opposite apartment...

  6. Real Name

    Oh bloody hell

    They're finding any excuse now to scare people for using their phones...

  7. Captain TickTock


    I doubt that the characters would appear on screen in clear text as you type...?

    That only happens in the movies...

    1. M Gale

      Phone passwords....

      ...tend to appear in plaintext, one character at a time.







      It's stupid, probably has its legacy in traditional "dumb" phones with their iffy t9 text entry mechanisms, and is a feature that needs to be able to be disabled on any smartphone or tablet. It's a little annoying having to hunch over the screen on the bus like someone trying to roll a sneaky joint without anybody seeing it.

  8. Camilla Smythe

    Typical Reg!!!!!!

    Boffins Syp on IPHONES!!!! IPHONES!!!!! WE TELL YOU!!1!!

    aND YOU WONDER WHY aPPLE DOES NOT answer your questios about their latest titsup.


  9. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Well that's one good reason to use Swype

    All I need now is several more before being able to psychologically prepare myself for the emotional trauma of having to enter text using it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course

    Only applies to iphones, oh no surely not a headline that has nothing to do with the actual study. I though word spamming ened years ago, clearly link fishing is alive and well, yawn...

  11. Alan Edwards

    Letter positioning

    My first reaction was 'Oh, for f***s sake', but I can see it working under perfect conditions. The next CSI will have them reading the key presses off the reflection off an eyeball using a CCTV camera 2 miles away.

    One thought I had is that you don't have to be able to read the letter that pops up, you just need to know where it is reasonably accurately. The letters pop up in specific places when you hit keys on the keyboard.

    Of course, it won't work when the iThing starts to struggle for CPU or RAM, your typing gets ahead of it and all the letters appear in one go...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think the implication was that the study was done on iphones, for whatever reason.

    The headline reflects this.

    If you feel so offended by the mere possibility that your product is insecure that you simply must flame an author of a news article, you probably shouldn't be allowed use any technology whatsoever.

    All products suffer from security flaws. It's simply a byproduct of legacy technology (whether backwards-compat support or hardware), and also large amounts of code.

    Though to be fair, the paper is simply REFLECTIVE SURFACES REFLECT. SHOCKER.

    -AC, was hoping people were still playing with Van Eck Phreaking.

    PS: [Mac|PC|Linux|obscure OS] SUXX0RS ROFLMAO LOL [Apple|Microsoft|Open Source Movement|etc] CNT CODE XD

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