At one point, they climbed up 42 meters (140 feet) of a University of MI building to point their laser at a Google Home device. A team based in Tokyo and the University of MI said they could take over Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple's Sir by hitting the devices' microphones with beams of light.
On a Ford auto, the researchers say they were able to remotely open the doors and start the engine via the Ford Pass app. This would trick the device's voice assistant into responding to the light that hit the microphone's membrane as if it were sound.
"This opens up an entirely new class of vulnerabilities", said Kevin Fu, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of MI. First, attempting a laser-based attack would require specialized equipment, although majority are easily available on Amazon and aren't very expensive either.More news: Stabbing at Jordan tourist spot wounds three Mexicans, one Swiss
A list of devices that the researchers tested and said are vulnerable to such light commands includes Google Home, Google Nest Cam IQ, multiple Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show devices, Facebook's Portal Mini, the iPhone XR, and the sixth-generation iPad.
Daniel Genkin, one of the paper's co-authors and an assistant professor at the University of MI, told the Times that there is an easy fix for the time being: Leave your voice-controlled assistant out of the line of sight from outside your home, "and don't give it access to anything you don't want someone else to access". Infrared lasers also work in some cases, allowing for a light that's invisible to the human eye to be potentially used in stealthy hacks.
What could they command the voice assistants to do?That said, it is worth noting that Android devices were only successfully hijacked from within a 16-foot radius while smart speakers were successfully controlled from 164 feet away, likely a result of having a more sensitive microphone array. From portable speakers such as the Sonos One and Sonos Play 1 to the more powerful soundbars such as the Sonos Beam, Sonos Play 5, and Sonos Playbar, the brand offers households premium-quality devices which also offer other smart features such as voice controls, Alexa integration, and dialogue enhancement. Though it was noted that in order to give specific instructions, the laser pointers required an extra $27.99 sound amplifier and a laser driver device to control the beam intensity which costs $339.
Researchers have found an interesting and scary new way of hacking into smart speakers.More news: Rockies' Nolan Arenado wins 7th consecutive Gold Glove
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Laser range and line-of-sight do play a part here, with some speakers needing a precise part of them to be lasered.
The researchers have shared their findings with Amazon, Apple, Google, Tesla and Ford.More news: China to resume importing Canadian beef, pork