SonarSnoop: active acoustic side-channel attacks

Peng Cheng, Ibrahim Ethem Bagci, Utz Roedig, Jeff Yan

Research output: Working paperWorking Paper/Preprint

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We report the first active acoustic side-channel attack. Speakers are used to emit human inaudible acoustic signals and the echo is recorded via microphones, turning the acoustic system of a smart phone into a sonar system. The echo signal can be used to profile user interaction with the device. For example, a victim's finger movements can be inferred to steal Android phone unlock patterns. In our empirical study, the number of candidate unlock patterns that an attacker must try to authenticate herself to a Samsung S4 Android phone can be reduced by up to 70% using this novel acoustic side-channel. Our approach can be easily applied to other application scenarios and device types. Overall, our work highlights a new family of security threats.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationIthaca, N.Y.
Number of pages13
Publication statusSubmitted - 30 Aug 2018


  • cryptography
  • security
  • SonarSnoop
  • acoustic side-channel attacks


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