Boffins hack Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri using lasers

Boffins hack Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri using lasers

This is detailed in a research paper (via Ars Technica) titled "Light Commands: Laser-Based Audio Injection Attacks on Voice-Controllable Systems" by researchers from the University of Electro-Communications and the University of MI.

By calibrating the lasers to match the frequency of a human voice, the boffins were effectively able to beam commands to a selection of smart speakers as well as an iPhone and a pair of Android devices.

The researchers said: "The implications of injecting unauthorized voice commands vary in severity based on the type of commands that can be executed through voice.We show how an attacker can use light-injected voice commands to unlock the victim's smart lock-protected home doors, or even locate, unlock and start various vehicles".

ANN ARBOR-From a distance of more than 300 feet and through a glass window, a laser beam can trick a voice-controlled virtual assistant like Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant into behaving as if it registered an audio command, researchers from the University of MI and University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo have demonstrated. The light would hit the diaphragm built into the smart speaker's microphone, causing it to vibrate in the same way as if someone had spoken that command.

Explaining why microphones can be controlled with light, the researchers say on their website: "The main discovery behind light commands is that in addition to sound, microphones also react to light aimed directly at them". The finding could enable anyone (with motivation and a few hundred dollars' worth of electronics) to attack a smart speaker from outside your house, making it do anything from playing music to opening a smart garage door to buying you stuff on Amazon. Amazon is sitting on top of this market: Canalys reports Amazon shipped a quarter of these speakers, or an estimated 6.6 million between April and June.

"Microphones convert sound into electrical signals". It has been mentioned that this can be done by injecting laser on to the devices from as far as 360 feet or 110 metres. Most microphones, they said, would have to be redesigned.

How Can Hackers Take Advantage of the Bug? This allowed them to make basic commands and activate the smart speaker.

The team said that there is a tiny fragment inside a device's microphone, called a diaphragm. Takeshi Sugawara, a visiting scholar at the University of MI and the paper's lead author, said one way to do this would be to create an obstacle that would block a straight line of sight to the microphone's diaphragm.

Tracking steps seems to be all the Buds can do at this time, though that could change if Amazon decides to give the feature a wide release.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

Lane Kiffin denies reported interest in Florida State head coach job
Haggins previously served as interim coach for the Seminoles for two games in 2017 after Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M. Taggart did indicate he was dismayed to be dismissed in a statement released on his Twitter account on Sunday.

Kim Kardashian's 2019 Achieved Gala dress originally experienced phony nipples
But there is also that fine line of, you know, being agency and carrying out what you experience comfy with. Proud husband Kanye West couldn't keep his hands off her as they left their hotel.

VFX to Feature James Dean in Movie 65 Years After Death
Pre-production for the movie starts this month, and filmmakers are eyeing Veterans Day 2020 for a possible release date. Magic City, a new production company founded by Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh, received a thumbs-up from Dean's family.

White House may exempt vape shops from e-cigarette flavor ban
The mango flavor, which Juul has stopped producing, was most popular among middle schoolers, though mint was a close second. Almost 1 million youth reported vaping daily, while 1.6 million said they vaped "frequently" on 20 or more days per month.

Murder suspects cut hole in jail's bathroom ceiling to escape, sheriff says
Salazar was arrested on July 7, 2018 for a murder that was committed in October 2017, according to the Salinas Police Department. Monterey County Jail inmates Santos Fonseca, left, and Jonathan Salazar, right, escaped from custody on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019.

Other news