Sound waves being used to launch cyber attacks!


Have you ever imagined that simple sound waves can be used to launch cyber attacks on smart devices..? Yeah, you’ve read it right!

Researchers from the University of Michigan have found a new way of using sound waves to launch cyber attacks on devices loaded with Accelerometers. The study made by the researchers states that hackers are finding ways to bypass traditional network entry points and instead are using alternative ways to compromise a device.

Technical studies prove that device characteristics such as power consumption and the amount of light or electromagnetic radiation emitted by some gadgets can be used to spy on the users of a particular device. The risk doesn’t end here as the said vulnerability can also be further exploited to disrupt the operation of electronic devices.

As objects equipped with miniature computers like smartphones are increasingly being used to access web services, devices containing motion sensors such as accelerometers are being used for spying activities by turning them into a microphone or using them to monitor what keys a user is typing on their respective smartphone.

Moreover, researchers also found that the vibrations from music playing on a phone could affect its accelerometer in a way that made it seem as if the user was moving.

Thus, as motion sensors are also used in medical equipment, simple music can be used to influence the accelerometers used in medical equipment. This could lead to incorrect flow measurements and so incorrect doses.

So, all those accelerometer loaded equipment such as pacemakers could be affected by external sounds.

Similarly, accelerometers are also being used in industrial plants to measure and contain chemical or fuel flow rates. So, hackers can easily use a high powered sound wave to confuse the plant’s control system or cause a temporary shutdown. If used against power plants, then it could cause a complete black out within no time.

On a parallel note, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the United States also prepared a report which says that user passwords can be read by hackers by listening to the sound that their device keyboard made.

In general, all keys on the keyboard sound the same to our human ears. But in reality, each key offers a unique sound frequency pattern. Hackers can tap this fact by using a number of microphones to measure time differences and amplitudes of the received sound pulses, and with knowledge of the geometry of the keyboard, they can easily guesstimate the keys typed by the user.

Now, imagine, if a drone army is flown into a highly sensitive area to emit high-powered sound waves. 

What if the waves interfere with the local accelerometers which are part of some critical equipment?

What if this entire activity causes a mass denial of service attack…?

Note 1- Already military officers use high powered electromagnetic waves to interrupt the operations of electronics– all as a part of military operations.

Note 2- In the movie Ocean’s Eleven, the bad guys have already outlined a similar attack using EM pulses to cause a blackout in Las Vegas.

What’s your say on this issue…?

Please let us know through the comments section below.

Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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