Hacking a smartphone with sound is possible
Security researchers have recently announced they have managed to hack a smartphone simply by using sound.
A group of researchers from the University of Michigan and South Carolina announced that they have successfully hacked several smartphone sensors using what they present as a "musical virus."
It is a fault located in embedded accelerometers in a majority of smartphones that has been exploited. Concretely, by broadcasting sound, the researchers managed to trick the smartphone accelerometer to take control of the step monitor associated with a Fitbit wristband.
The accelerometers identify the movements of the smartphones and the data are then interpreted to propose the control of an application or more broadly, to give indications of speed, direction and moving towards sports or geolocation applications. It appears that a lot of accelerometers used today in smartphones are also sensitive to vibrations. Since sound is a vibration, it becomes possible to communicate with these sensors and create a kind of "musical virus".
It is thus possible to corrupt the data returned to the accelerometer to distort the results obtained in the applications, with various consequences: several kilometers traveled instead of a few meters, opposite direction to that achieved...
Apparently, piracy seems harmless... Unfortunately, some smart medical devices rely on accelerometers, and this is especially the case of the insulin pumps offered to patients suffering from diabetes.
While piracy may seem a little risky for smartphones, it is otherwise smart devices that multiply in our daily lives.