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Sound Hacking: A Potentially Big Problem in The Tech World

Sound Hacking

The act of hacking something simply implies the object, either a computer or other device, is accessed without the owner’s permission or a program or software therein is altered in some way without consent. Although more and more technological advancements are being made every day to keep our devices and computers save, it seems that hackers are always one step ahead of software developers, consistently figuring out a way around any safety features that might have been implemented. Unfortunately, this seems to be an issue that has no reliable or effective solution.

How Bad is The Problem of Hacking?

If you have ever wondered how bad the problem with hacking really is, take a look at these statistics/facts to get an idea of the scope of the problem at hand:

  • By December of 2016, there had been over two billion records stolen within the year’s time.
  • The career site LinkedIn had 117 million records stolen and accounts affected from a hacker, eventually caught in the Czech Republic.
  • Social media site Tumblr was hacked, which led to 65 million accounts being leaked.
  • Hundreds of point-of-sale terminals (card machines) located in retail outlets were compromised through the installation of malware. This breach allowed hackers access to username and passwords.

Did You Know Hackers Might Not Stop With Security Breaches Affecting Your Personal and Financial Information?

More than likely, you already knew about some of the above hacking incidents. However, you probably didn’t know that even devices like Fitbits have been found susceptible to hacking. That’s right. According to recent research done in collaboration by teams from the University of South Carolina and the University of Michigan, these devices can be hacked. However, the fact that they can be hacked isn’t the most surprising element of the research findings. The fact that the researchers successfully hacked these devices utilizing sound was even more surprising.

More About The Sound Hacking Research Findings:

Researchers were able to manipulate accelerometers in devices like Fitbits through acoustic attacks. They simply added extra step counts and the like. However, getting credit for a step you didn’t take is far from the most worrisome issue with this research. The fact that researchers were able to use sound to do so presents a new potential problem that will need to be dealt with in the future.

The Dangers of Acoustic Hacking:

Hacking via acoustics is obviously not the most commonly employed way of data manipulation. Kevin Fu, who is the associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, explained how it works:

“It’s like the opera singer who hits the note to break a wine glass, only in our case, we can spell out words.”

These words are entered as commands that manipulate the device, altering data. As was stated earlier, although changing a Fitbit to show more steps than were actually taken is trivial, the ability of researchers to do so shows a potential weakness in all such devices. This weakness is one that has not previously been considered that being the danger or acoustic or sound hacking. Thankfully, now that this research has taken place, software and device developers will be aware of the potential issue and will most assuredly create protections against it if it becomes a security issue.

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