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Hackers Can Listen to Your Screen

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Hackers Can Listen to Your Screen

By now, you’ve received multiple warnings about your webcam. You know that hackers can hijack it and use it to spy on you.

Image result for hacker images

Protecting yourself from visual surveillance is easy, though. All you have to do is slap duct tape over the lens. If you don’t want tape reside on your computer, plastic lens covers are available through multiple vendors.

This doesn’t mean your privacy is safe, though. Your microphone could be ratting on you, and shielding it is not quite so easy.

According to a report in Ars Technica, some hackers have figured out a microphone hacking technique that is so clever and so devious, it almost seems superhuman. They can actually discern what websites you visit by analyzing vibration patterns produced by sound waves bouncing off the screen.

The culprit is a phenomenon called ‘coil whine‘. It is a high-pitched sound produced by electronic components under heavy work loads. With current moving through through an inductor or transformer, its wiring vibrates at varying frequencies. The coil whine usually occurs inside a metal or plastic case, and usually is inaudible to the human ear.

Some security specialists have learned that they could track coil whine with a few strategically placed microphones. In the photo enclosed here, the lines on the screen represent the intensity of particular pixels on display. By itself, this information wouldn’t enable anyone to spy on you. This is only the first stage of the hacker’s assault, though.

Advanced machine algorithms analyze the data. A specialized software tool could identify the websites displayed with 96.5% accuracy.

Most hackers have much simpler and more direct means of spying. It’s unlikely, then, that many will adopt this one soon. As the ‘internet of things’ advances, though, you can expect this threat to surface more often. Smart speakers, baby monitors, and voice-activation controls on appliances will present greater opportunities for crooks who know how to exploit them.


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