Cyber security: Soundwaves-based hacking exposes gaps in networks

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Published: March 16, 2017 4:41:00 AM

Although research on cyber security has been restricted to only algorithm tampering, researchers have found a new window to hack your devices.

With the sensors being used in medical devices to monitor doses and also to control self-driving vehicles, hacking accelerometers can have disastrous consequences. (Reuters image)

As companies are vying for more IoT penetration—according to Gartner, 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use in 2017—they are also finding out new security gaps that need plugging. Although research on cyber security has been restricted to only algorithm tampering, researchers have found a new window to hack your devices. Scientists from University of Michigan and South Carolina are said to have used soundwaves to tamper with accelerometers—motion trackers—to gain access to your device. While mostly accelerometers are used by fitness trackers, they are also used by cell phones and tablets for screen movement and other functions. The newly-discovered vulnerability may seem small—all a hacker can do is turn your screen upside down or add a few meters to your pedometer—but it can have larger spillover effects given accelerators are increasingly being used for more complex functions.

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With the sensors being used in medical devices to monitor doses and also to control self-driving vehicles, hacking accelerometers can have disastrous consequences. In 2011, researchers from MIT and Georgia Institute of Technology had used accelerometers to decode 80% of words typed on a nearby computer keyboard by capturing vibrations from the keyboard. As we enter a new world, of robots and interconnected devices, firms must focus on developing requisite security.

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