Did you know that your iPhone can work as a spy phone? Well, for most of you it must have come as a surprise. It rather works courtesy the accelerometer in your iPhone, which could be used to decipher your computer keystrokes i.e. whatever you type into your PC keyboard - including passwords and e-mail content.

Well, the technique is that the accelerometer of an iPhone - lying close to a computer keyboard one is typing on, can detect the vibrations created by typing and then decipher the program into comprehensible sentences with as much as 80 percent accuracy. Analysts are skeptical about the threat proposition of this iPhone trait, considering the security breach it can cause.

How it works

Experts believe that this technique is not so easy and works primarily by detecting pairs of keystrokes, rather than individual keys. Firstly, it models keyboard events in pairs and then adjudges whether the pair of keys pressed is on the left or the right side of the keyboard. It also makes an attempt to adjudge whether they are close together or far apart on the QWERTY keyboard.

On working this out, comparisons of the results is made to a preloaded dictionary where each word has been broken down in the same way. For example, the word canopy is made up of five keystroke pairs. These are: C-A, A-N, N-O, O-P and P-Y. The code is translated by the program as Left-Left-Near, Left-Right-Far, Right-Right-Far, Right-Right- Near and Right-Right-Near. This is now compared to the dictionary (which is translated according to this code) to suggest the most likely word. With a dictionary of around 58,000 words, the system has achieved word-detection accuracy rates as high as 80 percent.

Fighting the Hack

Further studies into this reveals, that the effective range for an iPhone spying on all information is just 3 inches. So, if you want to protect your computer data from being shared on the iPhone keep your device further away from keystrokes. Although, this is very rare incident in all likelihood; however, possibility of a hack cannot be ruled out.


Research and experiments have revealed that this technique isn't a smooth ride and the results are difficult to read; although in most cases it has been found that smartphones launched in the last 2 years are more sophisticated and gear to perform as a spy phone. Preliminary results show that this technique performed on the iPhone 4 showed a more decipherable and accurate result than that performed on the iPhone 3GS.

Moreover, your phone could also be infected with some spyware. Initially, when you receive this, it could be through a seemingly harmless application that even refrains from asking to use any of the phone sensors that might make you suspicious. And once downloaded, the keyboard detection malware could be activated - so the next time you start typing with your iPhone next to you, it could be deciphering your text.


The original post was published on Simon Blog: Your iPhone can Work as a Spy Phone