Researchers Can Hack Your Phone With Sound Waves

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Researchers Can Hack Your Phone With Sound Waves
A University of Michigan researcher points a speaker at an accelerometer, which can send false readings to a phone, fitness tracker or other device. Joseph Xu/University of Michigan

With worldwide mobile subscriptions, cell phones have become a universal and indispensable tool for modern life. With a cell phone, you can talk to anybody on the planet from almost anywhere. These Cellphones use radio frequency waves to transmit sound through the speaker and the microphone. And the sound waves could be a possible reason that your phone might get hack, a new research suggests.

Scientists from Michigan state University suggests that how audio tones can send false readings to devices through the devices’ accelerometers. The accelerometers in mobile phone act as a sensor which measures the tilting motion and orientation of a mobile phone.

Generally, mobile phones essentially depend on their sensors as we humans depend on ears, nose, mouth. Although, the sensors provides accuracy precision and useful if you want to monitor three-dimensional device movement or positioning.

Researcher Timothy Trippel said, “Sending confusing information to those sensors can wreak havoc. If autonomous systems can’t trust their senses, then the security and reliability of those systems will fail.”

Although, the attacks via sound waves are not common at all. Because of it, scientists from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology crashed their drone with a similar approach. But they show how hard it is to totally secure an internet-connected device, whether it’s your toy drone, your fitness tracker, or your pacemaker.

The results of the hacks the Michigan researchers demonstrated are minor. They make Samsung Galaxy S5 spell out the word WALNUT. At the other hand, they were testing accelerometer ratings. They even tricked a Fitbit fitness tracker into recording steps that no one was taking.

Scientists found that sound waves can make your devices do something you didn’t expect.

It’s because of an accelerometer sensor. Accelerometer sends signals to the devices they live inside, telling them to record information or take action.

Scientists said, “What is being described is simply a way to game the system. We will continue to explore solutions that help mitigate the potential for this type of behavior.”

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