How hackers can access your phone if you have your screen repaired

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Experts have issued a warning about high-street phone repair shops after revealing hackers can gain control of devices by planting spyware in the screen.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, said they were able to install special new screens on some Android phones that would allow them to take control of the devices.

The screens, which connect to the chips in the mobile, allow hackers to take pictures using the phone camera and install snooping apps.

The team told The Times that the method is more effective than traditional techniques of plugging in USB components when phones are left unattended because most people assume new screens are trustworthy and are not suspicious of repair shops.

The hackers carried out the experiment using materials costing less than £8 and said the pieces could easily be adapted to make them small enough to be untraceable to the average user.

Omer Shwartz, the lead researcher, warned that “the threat should not be taken lightly” and said these type of hacks are “feasible, scalable, and invisible to most detection techniques”.

Alan Woodward, of the University of Surrey, added: “There is an old adage in security that if someone has physical access to your computer then it’s no longer your computer. If someone has access to your phone they could quite easily upload something.”

But Patrick Hunter, of cybersecurity company One Identity said the method was “entirely impractical for a modern mobile”.

“Phones are small and have little to no space inside,” he added. “Miniaturisation would be key and that requires mass production, which stems from a lot of expensive research.”


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