Could your phone's BATTERY let spies track your every move? Changes in power can pinpoint your location to 90% accuracy
Many of us will think twice before allowing a mobile app to have access to our location data.
But it’s not just apps we need to worry about – hackers can now track our every move through our phone’s power consumption.
Unlike GPS or Wi-Fi location tracking, power data is freely available to any installed app allowing anyone with the know-how ti track a phone location to 90 per cent accuracy.
Researchers at Stanford University and Israel's defence research group, Rafael, have named their technique 'PowerSpy', according to a report by Wired.
It works because a phone's transmission requires more power to connect with a cell tower that is farther away.
It also requires more power when obstacles such as block its signal.
This means that temporary power drains, such as a phone call, will help highlight the type of environment the mobile phone user is in.
'A sufficiently long power measurement (several minutes) enables the learning algorithm to 'see' through the noise,' the researchers write.
'We show that measuring the phone's aggregate power consumption over time completely reveals the phone's location and movement.'
The researchers collected power data from Android phones as they drove around California's Bay Area and the Israeli city of Haifa.
Then they compared their data with the power consumption of an LG Nexus 4 handset as it repeatedly travelled through one of those routes.
They were able to guess which route it was nine out of ten times.
The technique only works if the person being spied on has travelled that route before, and hackers have measured how power consumption changes along that route.
If they don't know your routine, that accuracy of location drop from 90 per cent to about 60 per cent.
Someday, the scientists claim spies could use PowerSpy to track targets, or apps could use its location tracking for advertising purposes.
'You could install an application like Angry Birds that communicates over the network but doesn't ask for any location permissions,' Yan Michalevski, one of the Stanford researchers told Wired.
'It gathers information and sends it back to me to track you in real time, to understand what routes you've taken when you drove your car or to know exactly where you are on the route.'
Last year the same group found that they could use the gyroscope in a phone as a basic microphone.
The 'gyrophone' could recognise spoken digits and distinguish between male and female voices.