Sound waves could potentially be used to hack our gadgets


As technology improves, so does the sophistication of cyberattacks, making it harder and harder to secure our devices from hackers.

And now there’s a new tool available to hackers to bolster their arsenal. It’s simple and pretty cheap to implement – sound.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and University of South Carolina released a paper on Tuesday detailing how sound waves can be used to control accelerometers – the sensors in wearables and phones which determine when you’re moving and at what speed – which are used in millions of gadgets including phones, fitness trackers, cars, medical equipment and connected (IoT) devices.

A US$5 speaker was used to blast sound waves from “malicious” music files at 20 different accelerometers from five manufacturers, spooking the sensors and causing the devices to malfunction.

“It’s like the opera singer who hits the note to break a wine glass, only in our case, we can spell out words,” Kevin Fu, one of the authors of the paper and associate professor at the University of Michigan, told the New York Times. “You can think of it as a musical virus.”

Unfortunately, the paper offered no comment on the harmful effects of listening to Nickelback.