AirPods at risk: hackers could listen to you

The new "Live Listen" feature introduced by Apple with the iOS 12 operating system and dedicated to the AirPods wireless headphones raises a lot of doubts about privacy and even cybersecurity: it could be used to spy on people. The fault, however, is not with the Cupertino company, but with the Bluetooth connection, which has flaws that hackers can use to get inside the devices and listen to all conversations.

Apple introduced this feature to make it easier to hear speech in noisy places, for example for those with hearing problems, or to turn the iPhone into a baby monitor by leaving it near a baby's crib and remotely hear if it cries or wakes up. But its possible uses are many more and far more dangerous. If a hacker managed to overcome the defense systems of the Bluetooth connection of the wireless headset, he could listen to all the voice messages and calls made by a person. A very serious danger, especially for personal data.

AirPods, beware of the Live Listen feature

For years now, iPhones have had the voice memo app, which allows you to quickly and easily record what's going on in a room without anyone noticing and, more importantly, authorizing you to do so. But with Live Listen you go much further: thanks to the Bluetooth connection, in fact, you can leave the iPhone in a room with Live Listen activated and listen from another room with the AirPods everything that is picked up by the microphone. If there are no obstacles interfering with the Bluetooth transmission, you can hear what the iPhone's microphone hears from up to 20 feet away. The privacy implications, then, are important.

But that's not all: precisely because of the large maximum transmission distance, and the Bluetooth connection, a cyber security issue also arises. Bluetooth, in fact, is a very convenient but not very secure connection. One of the favorites of hackers who want to connect with our devices. That's why it's possible that, if we use Live Listen in a crowded place and in public, someone could be listening to our conversations without us noticing.

Apple, increasing risks for computer security

For many years, users of Apple products thought they were safe from virus and malware infections and hacker attacks. In recent days, however, it turns out that the trust placed in the security of the devices of the bitten apple is too much: in the sixth place of the list of the most popular viruses in 2018, in fact, ranked a virus for Mac running macOS X operating system.

Always in 2018, then, the vulnerability CVE-2018-5383 was found that affects the Bluetooth connection on iOS, macOS and Android and that cybercriminals use to interfere with the pairing of Bluetooth devices, inserting a key that allows intercepting the data traffic exchanged between the devices. This vulnerability has been fixed by both Apple and Google with patches, but it shows that the Bluetooth standard can be hacked.