These days, we seemingly can’t go a week without hearing about a dangerous piece of smartphone malware or some new way for hackers to keep tabs on what we’re up to. Indeed, the golden age of information has also provided malicious actors with more avenues to spy on, and in some cases steal money from, unsuspecting users.
To this point, cyber security researchers from Ben Gurion University in Israel recently disclosed that they’ve unearthed a way to spy on users via headphones connected to a vulnerable computer. Yep, in 2016, not even your headphones can be used without having to worry about a third-party eavesdropping on your conversations. The software at issue is still very much a proof of concept but it nonetheless appears to be incredibly advanced, creative, and downright frightening.
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According to Wired, the malware, which researchers are calling “Speake(a)r”, has the ability to remotely infiltrate a PC and subsequently use a connected pair of headphones to record audio, even when the computer’s own microphones have been completely turned off or even disconnected.
“The experimental malware instead repurposes the speakers in earbuds or headphones to use them as microphones,” the report explains, “converting the vibrations in air into electromagnetic signals to clearly capture audio from across a room.”
A video demonstrating how the malware works can be viewed below. It’s pretty next-level stuff.