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Conference Paper
Zhou, Man, Wang, Qian, Yang, Jingxiao, Li, Qi, Xiao, Feng, Wang, Zhibo, Chen, Xiaofeng.  2018.  PatternListener: Cracking Android Pattern Lock Using Acoustic Signals. Proceedings of the 2018 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security. :1775-1787.

Pattern lock has been widely used for authentication to protect user privacy on mobile devices (e.g., smartphones and tablets). Several attacks have been constructed to crack the lock. However, these approaches require the attackers to be either physically close to the target device or able to manipulate the network facilities (e.g., wifi hotspots) used by the victims. Therefore, the effectiveness of the attacks is highly sensitive to the setting of the environment where the users use the mobile devices. Also, these attacks are not scalable since they cannot easily infer patterns of a large number of users. Motivated by an observation that fingertip motions on the screen of a mobile device can be captured by analyzing surrounding acoustic signals on it, we propose PatternListener, a novel acoustic attack that cracks pattern lock by leveraging and analyzing imperceptible acoustic signals reflected by the fingertip. It leverages speakers and microphones of the victim's device to play imperceptible audio and record the acoustic signals reflected from the fingertip. In particular, it infers each unlock pattern by analyzing individual lines that are the trajectories of the fingertip and composed of the pattern. We propose several algorithms to construct signal segments for each line and infer possible candidates of each individual line according to the signal segments. Finally, we produce a tree to map all line candidates into grid patterns and thereby obtain the candidates of the entire unlock pattern. We implement a PatternListener prototype by using off-the-shelf smartphones and thoroughly evaluate it using 130 unique patterns. The real experimental results demonstrate that PatternListener can successfully exploit over 90% patterns in five attempts.