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Researchers Warn Of Hackers Weaponising Speakers

Smart speakers and Bluetooth headphones could become auditory weapons used by hackers to inflict hearing and even psychological damage on their unwitting victims.

PWC UK cybersecurity research lead Matt Wixey told technology magazine Wired it’s surprisingly easy to write custom malware that can cause speakers embedded in smart devices to go haywire, and even damage their internal components.

An attack on a smart speaker generated enough heat to start melting its internals after just a few minutes.

Mr Wixey’s research focused on developing malware that could produce noise exceeding recommended volumes and frequencies, which could cause hearing loss, tinnitus, or psychological discomfort or issues.

A laptop, smartphone, Bluetooth speaker, and over-ear headphones were some of the devices infected with malware.

They were then tested in a soundproof chamber, where a sound level meter measured their output.

Some of the devices tested were found capable of emitting high and low frequencies that exceed the recommended average.

While some of these frequencies aren’t audible to humans, they can still impact on our hearing and psychological wellbeing.

The inaudible frequencies pose a considerable risk as victims can be targeted without even knowing it.

 

 

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