New ‘Invisible Finger’ Could Soon Attack Your Touch Screen Devices Without Even Touching It

Touch screen devices are called out for being convenient, sleek, modern, and secure in design. But what if we told you that while the approach is super intimate and works in a direct manner, well, it has the risks of being breached?

We’re sure that speaking about a touch screen device getting attacked without the display even being touched in the first place can really make you confused. But we’re uncovering a new experimental study about an invisible finger that manages to do just that.

Thanks to one research team who came up with the bizarre but innovative idea about a presentation that ended up blowing up so many attendees’ minds in Las Vegas recently.

The venue was the Black Hat Conference where a team called Security in Silicon Lab took center stage and began to explain to us what they were on about. The team had students, professors, and a few Ph.D. candidates too that all hailed from Universities in Florida and New Hampshire.

They all seemed to have the knowledge and skills needed for electronic hardware, physics, and the right math expertise as well that is needed to uncover the realms of modern technology.

The group’s lead was Haoqi Shan who shed light on an intricate attack carried out by a touch injection against touch screens that made use of IEMI signaling.

The attack, according to Shan, had the range of being just 3 to 4cm. This had the capability of short taps, long presses, and even a swipe that could run in all directions.

This move was one that the group called as being a new variant, something that many professionals in the field hadn’t even seen or heard of.

Shan continued by elaborating on how capacitive touch screens do a great job at controlling users’ smartphones and tablets.

While we are going to be letting the physics part go, he revealed how the electronic system has the ability to transform capacitance events that take place while touching a screen into a unique form of measurable voltage.

This particular attack was proven by the team using electromagnetic fields as a strategy to alter their voltage.

Remember, this is just an experiment and in theory, it may or may not work. The researchers managed to set up a unique field that let them utilize copper plates to learn more about touch events.

As you can expect, this team went through a lot to get their point across, and that included plenty of iterations along the way. They had to ensure they were working at the best voltage and the frequency was just right as well. Then they had the help of a robotic arm to direct the antenna in the right way forward too.

Obviously, real attacks can’t use robotic arms but this experiment managed to achieve success in getting the device’s location while another allowed them to carry out the actual test.

Their experiment worked brilliantly on several devices like iPads, Nexus, Surface, and Google Pixel too. And according to them, the findings are pretty universal, and in the end, it’s just like your finger is doing the work but in reality, it’s not.

The team proved how several different actions could be generated. These included the likes of swipes in different directions across the iPad and even across the Surface.

It was amazing to see the whole thing come together as a final attack, compiled in a video. The way the whole vector was designed and the right positions of antennas to produce the right signals and determine the right location. Also, emissions were measured through the touch screen.

In this way, the attacking system was sure that every touch would turn out to be successful as well.

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