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Your headphones can be hacked into and used to eavesdrop


pair of headphones on a tableRemember when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told us all that we should cover our webcams and microphones? Everyone said that he was just paranoid. Well, we should all think twice. Apparently, apart from the video and audio hacking, our headphones can also be messed with. Not nice!

An interesting and scary study

Researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University recently discovered how a hacker can use the headphones attached to your computer to spy on your every move. So they created a piece of malware to test this theory. How does it work? It is scary-simple actually. Almost every computer comes with RealTek codecs. This is an audio technology which has an audio-jack re-tasking function. This malware can take advantage of this function and use it to spy on you by swapping the microphone jack with the headphones jack. So it will basically turn your headphones into a microphone which will record your every word.

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Just a test

However, the scientists only created and used this software (which is called “Speake(a)r”) in order to test their theory. It is not malicious nor it will be used for anything else. Still, they warned everyone that if they could do it, any hacker can. And it is actually easier than you imagine. People should be more careful about their cybernetic safety and acknowledge that their data is very vulnerable to hackers. They encouraged everyone to remove their headphones when they are not using them. Plus, t follow Zuckerberg’s example and tape your webcam and microphone. You will look weird and colleagues will probably make fun of you, but it is better to be safe than sorry, right?

Tablets and smartphones are vulnerable too

While there is no evidence that such a malware can attack smartphones and tablets too, this should not be ignored. The researchers tested it on the RealTek codecs which are present only on computers. But, it is entirely possible that portable devices can be accessed too. Image the consequences of such a threat, in an age when everyone has their headphones on almost the entire day. And those are connected to their smartphones and tablets which, naturally, contain personal data.

A serious threat

During their test, the team of researchers also discovered that the sound quality of those headphones recording is surprisingly good. For example, they could hear a conversation from at least 20 feet away. So this is actually not a joke. There can be serious consequences if such a malware ends up in the wrong hands. A lot of damage can be done with this simple trick. So this is a serious threat that should not be ignored at all. We are living in an age when technology advances with the speed of light. Sooner than we might think, everything we own will be connected and controlled through a device. And those devices can be easily accessed by hackers who most of the time wish to steal personal data or other important things. We should be more careful. As we said, better safe than sorry!

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About Donna Griggs

Donna.Griggs@thenextdigit.com'

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