Physical Password Breaking via Thermal Sequence Analysis

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Physical Password Breaking via Thermal Sequence Analysis

By: 
Duo Li, Xiao-Ping Zhang, Menghan Hu ; Guangtao Zhai, Xiaokang Yang

The thermal camera can capture keyboard surface temperature change after a human's touch. This phenomenon may be used to steal users' passwords physically. In this paper, based on the study of thermal dynamics of keyboards, we design a password break system using an infrared thermal camera. First, we build a signal model to describe the dynamic process of temperature change on the keyboard using Newton's law of cooling. Next, we develop a maximum likelihood parameter estimation algorithm to estimate the keystroke time instants. Then, by maximizing the probability of key order arrangement, a novel password breaking algorithm is developed. Our algorithm is tested using simulated data as well as real-world data. Experiment results show that our algorithm is effective for physical password breaking using thermal characteristics. Based on our results, we discuss strategies for password protection at the end.

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