Don’t panic, your phone may be hearing more than you think. Researchers have developed a method that allows hackers to eavesdrop on phone conversations using the device’s motion sensors. While still hypothetical, the hack is the latest on a growing list of smartphone security concerns. Can a cell phone act as a spying device?
In many ways, smartphones are the ideal spying tool if compromised, according to Mike Fong, CEO of his mobile security firm Privoro, who told Lifewire in an email. Essentially, it never leaves the target’s field of view, acts as a hub for all of a person’s vital information, and is equipped with a series of sensors (such as cameras and microphones) that can be used to capture information that otherwise cannot be captured. I’m here.
Your phone has ears similar to surveillance equipment.
Researchers from Texas A&M University, Temple University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, and the University of Dayton have identified a new cell phone attack technique called EarSpy, discussed in a recent study. EarSpy uses your phone’s accelerometer and speaker to measure the small vibrations produced by your speaker.
Researchers have found that upgrading a phone’s hardware makes hacks like EarSpy more practical. The OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 9 devices were put to the test by the researchers. They discovered that the dual speakers available in these more recent models as opposed to earlier models allow the accelerometer to capture more data from the ear speaker. Following sound extraction, the researchers used machine learning strategies to make the words understandable.
The vice president of security and architecture at Keeper Security, Patrick Tiquet, who was not involved in the research, told Lifewire in an email interview:
“This is a clear example of how the functionality or feature of your smartphone can be used for unintended purposes and illustrates why zero-trust and the principle of least-access should be applied universally.” “Just because a component seems innocent, like the mobile accelerometers in a cell phone, doesn’t imply it can’t or won’t be used maliciously.”
In an email interview, Jim Taylor, the chief product officer at the cyber security firm RSA, made the observation that the more sensors our phones have, the more information they can gather about us.
He continued, “Ultimately, adding additional pressure sensors, gyroscopes, and other characteristics makes for a better bug. And let’s not overlook how dependent we are on our mobile phones. Not only do mobile phones allow us to collect personally identifiable information about us, we often become physically dependent on them.
Unfortunately, EarSpy is just one of many potential threats to smartphone security. According to Fong, spyware is the most direct way to turn a phone into a spying device. Such spyware can access encrypted communications, photos, and other information on your device and use your phone’s camera and microphone to spy and eavesdrop. Often deployed without user interaction. Stalkerware, essentially legal spyware advertised as a parental control tool, achieves the same results, Fong said. However, “this method requires an operator to have physical control of the target device,” he continued, in order to perform the installation.