Leveraging Imperfections of Sensors for Fingerprinting Smartphones
October 10, 2013 2:44 PM   Subscribe

SensorPrint is a proposal to exploit subtle imperfections in accelerometers as a unique fingerprint for smartphones [pdf]. It's easy to demonstrate the idea: Generate a unique ID for your own device. SensorPrint joins other hardware-based tracking concepts in the pursuit of non-configurable, location-aware, un-deletable "cookies" on your mobile device. [via]
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot (5 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Hm. The obvious way to mitigate this is to have the ability to deny apps access to the accelerometer, but I wonder if it's possible to abstract the accelerometer via a software wrapper to eliminate any distinctive characteristics without significantly impairing it?
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:19 PM on October 10, 2013

I think the sensor-id.com thing is basically measuring the exact angle that the accelerometer is mounted at relative to the case. But it needs your cooperation to do the thing with the table, and even then it's not that accurate (I got three different numbers the three times I tried it).

It was news to me that web pages had access to accelerometer information. I guess that's where this would be relevant. Installed apps can simply request a unique identifier for the phone from the operating system.

The first page seems to be talking about something different than the sensor-id approach. It sounds like they spin the vibration motor and measure how the accelerometer sees that. Apparently there is a javascript Vibration API web pages could use, but it doesn't work for me in either chrome or safari (iOS7). So that approach would also require installing an app, at which point again you might as well just directly ask the OS for an ID.
posted by aubilenon at 3:29 PM on October 10, 2013

What's that? Results are frequently incorrect? No problem!

Facial Recognition Software That Returns Incorrect Results 20% Of The Time Is Good Enough For The FBI
posted by jeffburdges at 10:40 AM on October 15, 2013

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