Hackers can control your smartphone using sound waves from a $5 speaker

hackers sound waves accelerometer speaker
Hackers are developing new and improved ways to take control of your devices. The latest? Apparently, it’s by using sound waves.

Researchers have come up with a new way to hack all kinds of different devices and it’s a pretty complex system that basically imitates micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers — which is a chip in your device that lets phones and trackers know when they are moving and how quickly.

You would expect the system to use some pretty impressive tech, right? On the contrary, the hackers simply used a $5 speaker, which was able to blast as many as 20 different accelerometers from five different manufacturers with sound waves. Those frequencies were able to trick the sensors in devices like smartphones into doing a range of different things. Accelerometers are basically sensors suspended on a few different springs, and when the sound waves reach the chip, it moves — just like what would happen when you move.

“It’s like the opera singer who hits the note to break a wine glass, only in our case, we can spell out words,” Kevin Fu, author of the research paper and professor at the University of Michigan, told the New York Times. “You can think of it as a musical virus.”

So what exactly is the result of the hack? Well, the team was basically able to trick a phone into doing whatever they wanted. Specifically, the team was able to tell the phone to show a video or even control an app that controls a remote control car — all using only sound waves. That’s just the beginning, though — the team notes that if you had an app to start your car using the accelerometer when you shake your phone, you could potentially hack the phone to start the car.

It’s important to note that for now, this is only a proof of concept and it’s unlikely we’ll see hackers walking around with tiny speakers to control your phone. The fact is, however, that hacking methods are getting increasingly creative and complex.

Check out the video below to see the system in action.

Mobile

Most Android antivirus apps fail to provide malware protection, study shows

A study by AV-Comparatives analyzed the effectiveness of Android antivirus apps in protecting against the 2,000 most common malware threats. Alarmingly, only 23 of the apps were able to detect 100 percent of the malware samples.
Gaming

Our Fortnite: Battle Royale building tips and tricks will help you survive

Fortnite: Battle Royale sets itself apart from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds with its building mechanics. From gathering resources, to making cover on the fly, to building towers, here is how to build like a pro.
Mobile

How to use Samsung's Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.
Gaming

Have a problem with your Xbox One X? We have the solution

The Xbox One X is a brilliant console, but it's not without its issues, ranging from simple annoyances to severe hardware problems. Here are common Xbox One X problems and how to fix them.
Gaming

Tips and tricks for surviving the ruined streets of D.C. in The Division 2

Whether you're a seasoned agent or a newcomer, there's a lot going on in the early stages of The Division 2. Our Division 2 beginner's guide covers skills, perks, crafting, and how to make the most of post-apocalyptic Washington D.C.
Deals

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Walmart to launch it’s own low-priced tablet, powered by Android 9.0 Pie

Walmart will soon launch its own low-cost, kid-friendly tablet, which will be powered by Android 9.0 Pie. The price and release date for the device are still unknown, but it will reportedly feature a MediaTek processor with 2 GB of RAM.
Mobile

Safeguard your Sony Xperia 10 smartphone with one of these cases

If you're looking for some protection to keep your Sony smartphone safe, or you want a different style, we've got you covered here with a list of the best Sony Xperia 10 cases. There are clear cases, rugged cases, wallet cases, and more.
Product Review

Sony's Xperia 10 falls frustratingly short of budget brilliance

Better know for premium products, Sony does also have a budget smartphone range, but can the Sony Xperia 10 compete with great cheap phones from Nokia and Motorola? We put it through its paces to find out how it measures up.
Mobile

Sony's Xperia 10 smartphone boasts a 6-inch screen and is now available

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.
Mobile

FCC to help first responders pinpoint 911 callers in multistory buildings

When someone calls 911 from their cell phone, wireless carriers provide operators with an approximate location. Now the FCC wants the carriers to provide vertical location data to pinpoint 911 callers inside multi-story buildings.
Mobile

Latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone will pop up on April 10

Samsung will show at least one new Galaxy phone off on April 10, it has confirmed in a teaser tweet. The Galaxy A90 may make its first appearance, and it's rumored to have a pop-up camera and a notch-less screen.
Mobile

Leaked ZTE concept phones are crazy, possibly fake, and totally worth seeing

Renders of what may be ZTE concept phones may show how the manufacturer could avoid using the notch on future devices. They're crazy -- and maybe not even real -- but they're definitely worth looking at.