Hacked smartphones and tablets can turn into spy devices

Hackers could turn smart devices into surveillance tools via built-in microphones and speakers, according to a study

Most devices that can connect to the network are dangerous to users' privacy. Smartphones, tablets and even smart TVs can be hacked by hackers and used to spy on victims. This is what emerges from a study conducted by the University of Washington.

This is not the first time that experts bring attention to the problem related to the fragility, in terms of security, of the always connected objects of the Internet of Things, easy prey for cybercriminals. According to the research carried out by the U.S. university, hackers could transform these smart devices into surveillance tools through the integrated microphone and speakers. They may be able to determine the location and movement of their victims by using the two sound recording and playback devices.

The Study

The team of scientists at the University of Washington developed CovertBand, a program that turns a device with a microphone and speakers into a sonar tool, a system that uses sound and its propagation to detect objects. For example, the sonar technique is often used when it comes to finding a boat underwater.

Hackers, according to what the group of American researchers demonstrated, could hack a network-connected device and hide the high-frequency audio signal inside a piece of music. In this way, it is almost impossible for victims to detect the sound used by cybercriminals to track their location.

The point around which the experiment revolves is to demonstrate how a hacker could compromise an IoT device, transmute it into a sonar system and spy on the victims through a signal that becomes undetectable to users.

In other words, the speakers emit high-frequency sound and the microphone records the signal reflected from the human body, which carries with it information about the movement and potion of a person inside a room. Cyber criminals need only a modified music app to remotely spy on the unfortunate.