Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Malware uses headphones as microphones

Oh, great:
CAUTIOUS COMPUTER USERS put a piece of tape over their webcam. Truly paranoid ones worry about their devices’ microphones—some even crack open their computers and phones to disable or remove those audio components so they can’t be hijacked by hackers. Now one group of Israeli researchers has taken that game of spy-versus-spy paranoia a step further, with malware that converts your headphones into makeshift microphones that can slyly record your conversations.
It seems that the hardware has a "feature" that allows software to turn an output channel into an input channel.  Thanks, programmer-droid.  Hope you die screaming in a crotch fire.

Bottom line, you can get spied on this way even if you plug your headset into an audio-out jack.

The longer I'm in this business, the more I feel like that guy in The Omen who locked himself in a room and wall papered it with bible verses.  Didn't help him, either ...



Ted said...

They can listen to the keyboard clicks in my office all they want. Don't have a web cam. ... or headphones. But i do have speakers. For the times i run tv through my browser. ..... and they can listen to that also. But that maybe hard since I suspect you can't use the same speakers as both an output and a input device simultaneously

Borepatch said...

Ted, my understanding is that the channel has to be input or output. So if you set an "Easy Listening" playlist (or whatever your poison is) then you don't need to worry about this.

But that suggests if you have built-in speakers you shouldn't plug headphones in.

Dang, I'm about folding tinfoil hats ...

Unknown said...

Take a pair of old headphones or earbuds, cut 'em off, strip the wires and twist them together. When you plug this into the headphone jack it will be a direct short, with no audio transducer of any kind in the circuit.

That should stop them ... for a while.

- Don in Oregon