Technology 2 min read

How Hackers can Hijack Devices Using a Laser Pointer

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Researchers revealed how a vulnerability in Voice Assistants can allow hackers to hijack devices like smart speakers and mobile phones easily.

According to an International team of scientists, a surprising vulnerability in voice assistants can allow attackers to hijack devices. Whether it’s your smart speaker or iPhone, a simple laser pointer would let impostors in.

Voice assistants are incredibly popular today.

According to reports, about 111.8 million people in the United States use voice assistants at least monthly. We now control our devices and cars using either Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant.

However, these devices may not be as secure as you think.

A team of international researchers is saying that hackers can hijack your voice assistant by shining a laser pointer at the microphone. In other words, your voice-controlled devices are vulnerable to attacks.

How is this possible, you ask?

Using Light Commands to Hijack Devices

When we talk, microphones in smartphones, smart speakers, etc. translate the sound signals into electrical signals. That way, we can communicate our commands to the voice assistants.

The researchers suggested that pointing light at the microphone could have a similar effect. It’s a process that the team dubbed as “Light Command.”

In a statement to the press, a lead researcher on the study, Takeshi Sugawara said:

“It’s possible to make microphones respond to light as if it were sound. This means that anything that acts on sound commands will act on light commands.”

In their study, the team used lasers to control voice assistants from a distance of up to 110 meters. Since the assistants don’t require authentication to work, attackers can easily use light-injected commands to hijack devices.

According to the researchers, they can “unlock smart-lock-protected front doors, open garage doors, shop on e-commerce websites at the target’s expense.” Also, hackers will be able to locate, unlock, and start various cars like – Tesla and Ford – that are connected to the target’s Google account.

The researchers shared their findings with Amazon, Google, Apple, Tesla, and Ford.

While the tech companies are still reviewing the findings, the researchers suggested ways to protect your device against light commands.

Keep your smartphone, smart speaker, laptop, and any other voice-controlled device out of sight. By keeping it away from prying eyes, the laser beams may also have a tough time finding the microphone.

Read More: New Study Warns That Hackers Can Access Your Smart Bulbs

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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