This time, hackers can now use lasers to hack any computer that receives voice commands.
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In the spring of 2018, Takeshi Sugawara, a cybersecurity researcher, walked into the lab of the professor he was visiting at the University of Michigan. The professor was Kevin Fu. Sugawara wanted to show off something interesting.
Sugawara pointed a high-powered laser at the microphone of his iPad—all inside of a black metal box, to avoid burning or blinding anyone—and had Fu put on a pair of earbuds to listen to the sound the iPad’s mic picked up. As Sugawara varied the laser’s intensity over time in the shape of a sine wave, fluctuating at about 1,000 times a second, Fu picked up a distinct high-pitched tone. The iPad’s microphone had inexplicably converted the laser’s light into an electrical signal, just as it would with sound.
Six months later, Sugawara along with Fu and a group of University of Michigan researchers have honed this quirk into something deadlier. Using lasers, they can now hack to any computer that receives voice commands — from Amazon Echo speakers to your smartphone.
That spy trick lets them send “light commands” from hundreds of feet away; they can open garages, make online purchases, and cause all manner of mischief or malevolence. The attack can easily pass through a window, when the device’s owner isn’t home to notice a telltale flashing speck of light or the target device’s responses.
“It’s possible to make microphones respond to light as if it were sound,” says Sugawara. “This means that anything that acts on sound commands will act on light commands.”
If this is not scary, I don’t know what is.
See more details about this over at Wired.
(Image Credit: TheDigitalArtist/ Pixabay)