Simple defences against vibration-based keystroke fingerprinting attacks

Rushil Khurana, Shishir Nagaraja

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

2 Citations (Scopus)


Smartphones are increasingly equipped with sensitive accelerometers that can analyse acoustic vibrations on a physical surface. This allows them to gain a covert understanding of the surrounding environment by combining accelerometer sampling with sophisticated signal processing techniques. In this work, we analyse keyboard-sniffing attacks based on acoustic (vibration) covert channels, launched from a malicious application installed on a smartphone. An important requirement of such attacks is access to reliable acoustic signals that can be distinguished from the noise floor by applying appropriate signal processing techniques. Our analysis indicates that state-of-the-art attack techniques are fragile; injecting randomised noise (jamming) via the vibration medium into the accelerometer, reduces the efficiency of the attack from 80% to random guessing. We conclude that our work presents an important step towards disabling the covert channel and ensuring full security.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecurity Protocols XXI - 21st International Workshop, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsB. Christianson , J. Malcolm , F. Stajano , J. Anderson , J. Bonneau
Place of PublicationBerlin
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9783642417160
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Event21st International Workshop on Security Protocols XXI - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Mar 201320 Mar 2013

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume8263 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference21st International Workshop on Security Protocols XXI
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • vibration signals
  • smartphones
  • machine learning technique
  • acoustic vibration
  • covert channel
  • accelerometer sensor
  • motion sensors


Dive into the research topics of 'Simple defences against vibration-based keystroke fingerprinting attacks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this