Friday, 24 November, 2017

Ultrasonic hack 'DolphinAttack' sends inaudible voice commands to Siri, Alexa

The Verge The Verge
Velma Reese | 10 September, 2017, 08:24

Security researchers have discovered how cyber criminals can hijack smart assistants, raising security concerns about the increasingly popular voice activated devices.

Unlike humans, microphones can pick up frequencies well above 20,000Hz and hence can take commands if relayed at this frequency, without the owner knowing about it.

Your digital assistant of choice, be it Alexa, Siri, or Google Now, should only carry out the voice commands you issue.

By hijacking the phone, attackers can use it as a spying tool to make outgoing video and phone calls and see the surroundings of the device.

Alexa, Siri, Cortana vulnerable to "silent hacking"
Hackers can trick voice services such as Alexa and Siri with 'silent' commands

While creepy at first, robotic assistants like Google Home and Alexa are becoming accepted as helpful, inanimate members of the household. With this attack, the researchers were able to translate human voice commands into ultrasound frequencies and play them back using cheap components.

The team claim to have validated the attack experimentally on 16 popular voice controllable systems and seven speech recognition systems. That's mainly because for the ultrasound commands to be heard by the target device, the person being "hacked" needs to be extremely close to attacker, and in a relatively quiet environment - you wouldn't have much luck targeting someone from across a room or even the other side of a booth in a busy restaurant.

DolphinAttacks are particularly unsettling because they can be used to access nearly any device with a voice assistant such as Amazon's popular Echo devices, Apple's iPhone and iPad, Android smartphones and tablets and even the navigation system of an Audi Q3.

PayPal even allows users to send money with their smartphone using voice commands, which could potentially be controlled through a DolphinAttack. They devised a way that hackers could use voice recordings of the device's owner to synthesize the opening voice command using pieces of other words. The hacker could then perform a walk-by attack, gaining control of a device without physically touching it, altering the device settings, or installing any malware. The smartphone to which the signal has to be transmitted to should be within five to six feet from the transmitter. The researchers have also noted that it would be easy to implement a fix by just tweaking the hardware or software to ignore commands outside a certain frequency range.

Here's How Certain T-Mobile Customers Can Score Free Netflix
According to Ookla, the average United States speeds for the first and second quarters of 2017 was 64Mbps down, and 22.8Mbps up. And this sounds like something that subscribers won't even notice even while they reap the benefits of mobile authentication.

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