A Survey on Sensor-Based Threats and Attacks to Smart Devices and Applications

Amit Kumar Sikder, Giuseppe Petracca, Hidayet Aksu, Trent Jaeger, A. Selcuk Uluagac

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Modern electronic devices have become 'smart' as well as omnipresent in our day-to-day lives. From small household devices to large industrial machines, smart devices have become very popular in every possible application domain. Smart devices in our homes, offices, buildings, and cities can connect with other devices as well as with the physical world around them. This increasing popularity has also placed smart devices as the center of attention among attackers. Already, several types of malicious activities exist that attempt to compromise the security and privacy of smart devices. One interesting and noteworthy emerging threat vector is the attacks that abuse the use of sensors on smart devices. Smart devices are vulnerable to sensor-based threats and attacks due to the lack of proper security mechanisms available to control the use of sensors by installed apps. By exploiting the sensors (e.g., accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone, light sensor, etc.) on a smart device, attackers can extract information from the device, transfer malware to a device, or trigger a malicious activity to compromise the device. In this paper, we explore various threats and attacks abusing sensors of smart devices for malicious purposes. Specifically, we present a detailed survey about existing sensor-based threats and attacks to smart devices and countermeasures that have been developed to secure smart devices from sensor-based threats. Furthermore, we discuss security and privacy issues of smart devices in the context of sensor-based threats and attacks and conclude with future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9372295
Pages (from-to)1125-1159
Number of pages35
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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