This is definitely one of the more bizarre security risks I’ve heard of relating to Android, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t legit. And this hole wasn’t exposed by a security firm that sells the patch, either. It was meticulously researched by members of the Department of Computer and Information Science at the illustrious University of Pennsylvania and the team’s findings were presented for inclusion at the USENIX Security Conference. So what is this weakness that’s attracting so much attention? Fingerprints. More specifically, the visible streaks of oil left on an Android’s screen after entering the pattern unlock code. Someone could easily trace the path of a person’s natural oils (or residue of unhealthy food) and unlock their Android device, gaining access to all kinds of private information.
Android users with a recent version of the operating system can simply require a PIN for unlocking the device, and others could install App Protector Pro or one of many other apps that increases phone security. You could also wipe your screen regularly, or simply use it after unlocking to obscure the secret security pattern! Still the paper is an interesting read, covering varying degrees of difficulty in repeating different unlock patterns, and visibility of finger oils from changes in viewing angle.
Via PC PRO by way of Engadget