Science

How your smartphone could be easily hacked by sound waves

If there was only one truism of the modern world, it would be that no computer is safe from hacking. No matter what you do to protect your information and electronic devices, there’s a way for nefarious people to get to them. It’s only a matter of effort, resources, and ingenuity.

As for your smartphone, scientists have discovered a crafty new method for hacking them. Inside pretty much every smartphone is an accelerometer, which is used to detect motion in three dimensions. It turns out that a certain type of accelerometer, called a capacitive MEMS accelerometer, can be hacked with sound waves. According to Kevin Fu, a computer scientists from the University of Michigan, “It’s like the opera singer who hits the note to break a wine glass, only in our case, we can spell out words… You can think of it as a musical virus.”

This hacking method wouldn’t require any sophisticated equipment. In one experiment the researchers hacked an accelerometer with a $5 speaker, and in another they hacked a phone with its own internal speaker. Though you may think that the accelerometer in your phone doesn’t do anything too important, in certain applications it’s critical. One of the researchers revealed that “If a phone app used the accelerometer to start your car when you physically shake your phone, then you could intentionally spoof the accelerometer’s output data to make the phone app think the phone is being shaken.”

And it’s not just smartphones that have accelerometers. These things can be found in medical devices, industrial equipment, satellites, vehicles and airbags, and they’re even embedded in buildings. Kevin Fu’s team was able to hack 15 out 20 of the accelerometers they tested, which were made by five different manufacturers.

Via Daily Sheeple

Featured Image: Japanexperterna.se/Flickr

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