Hack Lets Researchers Turn Speakers into Weapons

It sounds like something out of a movie: speakers that produce a deafening sound that could be used as part of an attack.

A recent presentation at Def Con revealed security researchers have uncovered a way to hack audio gadgets to make deafening sounds, which could be used as a cyber weapon. The damaging aural barrages could potentially harm hearing or have psychological effects.

Matt Wixey, a cybersecurity researcher at technology consulting firm PwC UK, said attackers could build a custom-made malware to induce it on connected speakers that could produce deafening sounds at high intensity.

Wixey tested different kinds of connected speakers, including laptops speakers, headphones, and mobile phone speakers.

“Some attacks leveraged known vulnerabilities in a particular device, which could be done locally or remotely in some cases. Other attacks would either require proximity to the device, or physical access to it,” Wixey said in a statement.

The smarter the device, the more capable it was of emitting high frequencies that exceeded the average recommended by several academic guidelines. The test attack on the smart speaker also generated enough heat to start melting its internal components after four or five minutes, permanently damaging the device. 

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Article Written by DJ Murphy | View all articles by DJ Murphy