To help people protect themselves from the threat of audio surveillance, Russian security software firm Kaspersky Lab has developed a method to counteract unauthorised access to microphone data on Windows devices. The patented technology filters internal commands sent to, or received by, the Windows Audio service and indicates the creation of each new audio stream by any application. It then uses Kaspersky Lab’s ‘Application Control’ feature, which categorises all programmes depending on their reputation, content and manufacturer. If it recognises that an ‘untrusted’ or ‘low/high restricted’ programme is trying to access the microphone, the request is immediately blocked, the company said on Thursday.
“When it comes to audio protection, the main difficulty in the development of this technology was the existence of an audio stream multiplexing system within Windows so that several applications can record sound simultaneously,” added Alexander Kalinin, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab. “However, this problem was resolved easily with help of our rich kernel driver infrastructure, which includes a mechanism to control commands between Windows services,” Kalinin, who was involved in the research, said.
The method is used in the company’s flagship home solutions — Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security. Till now, no other security solutions on the market have integrated technologies to protect microphones from malicious access, the statement added. Audio protection is part of the ‘Privacy Protection’ set of technologies included in Kaspersky Lab’s home security solutions. It also contains Webcam Protection — which notifies users about access to their integrated or connected webcam — and the Private Browsing feature, which blocks any attempts to collect data on users via a web-browser.