Android Phones Can Be Tracked Through Battery - Study Reveals

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 A new study conducted by Stanford University and Israeli Defense Research Group, Rafael, has found that an Android users phone can be tracked, and the make and model identified, simply by measuring the battery usage of the phone. The technique, which the group has named PowerSpy, was tested on both an Android LG Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. It found that 90% of the time the Android’s location could be determined – even when a user wasn’t using their phone. The researchers, originally reported by Wired, said,

    “We show that by simply reading the phone’s aggregate power consumption over a period of a few minutes an application can learn information about the user’s location.” they continued, “power consumption over time completely reveals the phone’s location and movement.”

The method is simple: a phone battery fluctuates when a user talks, uses an app, or simply has a phone signal. That power consumption increases and decreases by how close, or far, the user is away from a cell phone tower (base station), how many obstacles, such as buildings, mountains, cars, etc., are between the phone and the tower, and even how many apps are being used. However that ‘noise’ did not stop researchers from tracking the device. Instead, their algorithm was able to filter it out and still determine the location of the Android Nexus phones.

While the study was conducted using the Android platform, the researchers cautioned that all modern platforms are susceptible to being hacked and tracked. So, while the Android Nexus 4 and 5 were the test subjects, Apple and Windows users could also be the victims.
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