How Can Sound Waves Be Used To Hack Devices?

If you thought all your devices, including your smartphones, were all safe and secure, it is about time to think again. Hackers have always devised ingenious ways to hack into systems and smart devices. With the new research on the probable use of sound waves to control anything, hackers now have more resources at hand to hack into devices.

Anything can be hacked

It is a known fact in the world of security that anything and everything can be hacked. Even the U.S government couldn’t escape serious hacking, when the Cablegate row exposed how confidential data was leaked by hacking into supposedly secure systems. The more complex the devices become, the more devious methods hackers come up with, to hack into these systems. Only a few software vendors assure 100% safety with HB Swiss being one of them.

Now there are talks of sound waves that can be used to manipulate systems, which were otherwise thought foolproof.

No longer a science fiction

What was perceived as science fiction some years ago is now becoming reality. Sound can be used in many ways. Not just for use in communication purposes, scientists are using sound in ways that were previously thought possible only in science fiction dramas. Manipulation of sound energy is the going to be the future of things to come.

Sound waves can hack sensors

A recent research by computer security scientists and researchers at theUniversity of Michigan shows that sound waves can be used to hack into the critical sensors that are present in many devices like smartphones, automobiles, medical devices and the Internet of Things.

Tiny accelerometers are part of the standard components in products like automobiles, smartphones and fitness monitors. Accelerometers measure acceleration. These are generally manufactured as microelectromechanical systems or MEMS. The MEMS accelerometers are used for navigation purposes, measuring the distance covered in fitness monitors and also to determine the orientation of a tablet o computer. (Fitbits use this system)

Now, research has shown that these MEMS accelerometers can be tricked. The team of researchers used precisely tuned acoustic tones to deceive accelerometers into recognizing movement that actually never occurred. Sound waves from several malicious music files were used into tricking these accelerometers into perceiving that there is motion. Here, the fundamental physics of the hardware has been used. The sensors perceive that there is movement due to the effect of the sound waves and this ultimately is delivered to the microprocessor in the system. Each capacitive MEMS accelerometer contains some amount of mass that is suspended on springs. The sound waves move this small piece of mass, fooling the chip that there is motion.

This was just an experiment and a research case. But the implications of this research are far and wide.

It is time for areality check!

This research of using the sound waves to control things has certainly thrown open the gates far and wide. Imagine when something like a Fitbit can be controlled and extra steps added, what else could be vulnerable?

Our world functions in a world of connected networks and computers. And hence it is time for a reality check. There is automation that has set in. And automated devices depend on sensors. Sensors can be manipulated! Though there is still a long way to go, you never know what hackers are capable of coming up with!