Daily Management Review

Sound Waves can now be Agents for Hacking Electronic Devices, Show US Researchers


08/05/2015




Sound Waves can now be Agents for Hacking Electronic Devices, Show US Researchers
Making use of sound waves that can be captured with an AM radio antenna a short distance away, it is possible to hijack standard equipment inside computers, printers and millions of other devices.

This was claimed and demonstrated by a team of security researchers in the US recently.

The physical prongs on general-purpose input/output circuits are taken control of by the attack program. They are then vibrated at a frequency that the researchers want or chose to. Such vibration may or may not be audible. These vibrations of sound waves are then picked up by an antenna placed elsewhere.

This would be a useful technique for spy agencies that have made use of light, heat and other emanations that allow the receivers to reconstruct content for extraction of information from keyboards and other computer devices.

This new technique that makes use of new makeshift transmitting antenna called ‘Funtenna’ would add another mode for the spy agencies to hijack computers. This was disclosed by lead researcher Ang Cui of Red Balloon Security adding that such a technique of hijacking computers and other devices would be hard to detect as it would not be possible for traffic logs to catch data leaving the premises.

The research team gave a live demonstration of the technology on Wednesday at the annual security conference Black Hat in Las Vegas.

To demonstrate how easily spy agencies would be clandestinely extract data, Cui pointed out that the hackers would only need an antenna close to the targeted building to pick up the sound waves after they manage to find a way into the target devices so that the desired data can be formatted suitably for transmission.

The antenna was developed over a two year period. Experts say that this development showcases the increasing vulnerability of defenders with respect to hackers as a broadening array of devices can be manipulated in unpredictable ways and as gadgets grow more complex.

Meanwhile there are fears that hackers, using technologies like this, can now shift focus to take remote control of cars as auto makers strive to enhance vehicle-operating software. Auto makers in the US are in the verge of testing auto pilot software for cars.

With the greater development of car controlling software, hackers would now have better chances of hijacking cars. This fear became evident when hackers gained access to a 2014 Jeep Cherokee driven by a reporter for Wired magazine earlier this week.

Reports say that the hackers were able to take control of the car functions remotely and were able to turn on the Jeep's windshield wipers, shut the engine down while it was being driven down the highway, took control of the steering wheel and then disabled its brakes. The result was the ultimate crashing of the Jeep.

While some experts tired to play down the incident as the desperate attempt of an attention-seeking hacker, others are apprehensive of the increasing risk of cars to remote hacking.

“It provided an important wakeup call for vehicle manufacturers,” said Egil Juliussen, a senior analyst and research director with IHS Automotive.

(Source: www.reuters.com &  www.nbcnews.com) 






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