Now Reading
Researchers: Hacked Computers Can Send Data in Sound Waves

Researchers: Hacked Computers Can Send Data in Sound Waves

by Ali RazaAugust 6, 2015

soundwaves-can-hack-computers-researchersSecurity researchers have demonstrated an exploit that can hijack printers, computers and plenty of other electronic devices to send data and information out of an office through sound waves.

According to a report in Reuters, U.S. security professionals and researchers have devised and demonstrated a hack which proves that standard equipment inside computers, printers and millions of other devices can be hijacked to transmit data via sound waves.

While spy agencies and pioneers in cryptography have looked into irreverent and arcane ways for clandestine activity for decades, the researchers of today, led by Ang Cui at Red Balloon security, demonstrated the hijack to a group of assembled reporters at the annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

How it Works

Cui confirmed that he would release the “proof-of-concept” code after the conference, ensuring that other researchers and hackers (white-hat and/or malicious attackers) get to test and build on his team’s work.

Here’s how the hijack works:

  • The exploit overtakes control of the actual physical prongs on general input/output circuits within the computer.
  • After establishing control, the circuits are vibrated at a frequency chosen by the researchers. This leaves vibrations to be audible or inaudible, depending on the frequency.
  • These vibrations can then be picked up with a simple AM radio antenna that’s within a short radius of the device.

Dubbed “Funtenna” by Cui, the makeshift transmitting antenna has the means to act as an additional channel that would be hard to detect. This is fundamentally due to the lack of traffic logs or any record of data being transmitted.

Quite simply, hackers would simply require an antenna situated within the vicinity of the machine to pick up on the sound waves. They’d also need to find a way to dismantle the targeted machine and convert the required data to the format suitable for transmission, Cui added.

Cui and his team of researchers have worked on the “Funtenna” for the past two years, proving that modern devices can be manipulated and hijacked in ways that are unheard of. With devices and gadgets becoming more and more complex, attackers will inevitably find more ways to increase their advantage in the battle for cybersecurity.

Images from Shutterstock

Advertised sites are not endorsed by us. They may be unsafe, untrustworthy, or illegal in your jurisdiction.
What's your reaction?
Love it
Hate it
  • dannyR

    I’m beginning to suspect that the real reason why overarching security and privacy research and standards are falling way behind the ability of state and criminal hackers to innovate is because exploits like this are not original, but only represent the tip of the iceberg of state surveillance and snooping’s toolbox of tricks.

    In other words, it’s not in Obama’s (for example) interest to call for a national body to systematically collect exploits and coordinate commercial standards of hardware and software specifications that would receive a stamp of certification on any instance of system or device that meets or exceeds standards.

    Thus: How does the NSA (or the Red Army), or Mossad, or FSB spy on you if your box is proofed against the tricks you implement because the governments deliberately spilled, and shared, the beans?