With the popularity of digital voice assistants like Alexa, Siri does not need any elaboration. Google Assistant is also a hot favorite with the android users-worldwide. While thee voice assistants are used extensively by millions of users to accomplish multiple tasks, their safety may not fail-proof. An international research team has found vulnerabilities in these digital assistants -which is worrisome. The discovery is hacking these assistants by using the laser on a device’s microphone has sent shock waves across the tech circles. The researchers are associated with the University of Michigan and Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications.
This is what the tech experts call Light Commands. This hack enables the hackers to inject invisible and audible commands remotely into the voice assistants. The Microelectro-Mechanical Systems in the device mics are vulnerable to lasers. The researchers succeeded in making the microphones react to light much in the way these react to sound waves. So, the malicious lot may be able to inject sound waves into microphones by modulating laser light amplitude. In this study, the research team was able to control such voice assistants from a distance of 110 meters. The researchers also found to their amazement that the user authentication is either non-existent or lacking in most such devices.
This may allow hackers to use light-based voice commands and unlock the devices. After that, they can perform many activities without the device owners being aware of it for long! They can use the Google account linked to the compromised device. However, hacking such digital assistants with a laser requires the use of specialized devices and expertise and a clear view of a target device. The researchers have shared the shocking finding with companies like Amazon, Tesla, Apple, and Google. The companies offering such voice assistants have taken serious note of the startling discovery, as expected. Amazon said it gives high priority to customer security and its products. Google, its arch-rival, said it is analyzing the research paper, and the added safeguarding interest of the users is essential to the entity. Others, like Tesla, Ford, and Apple, are yet to respond to the finding.