when the microphone spies on you without knowing it ⋆ News

One fine day – remains to be seen if it was really “nice” – a boy was at home, in videoconference as usual, having just taken care to turn off the microphone. However, he noticed that the LEDs of the same had remained lit, indicating that probably it was still operationaland, it was receiving sound signals and maybe even sending them somewhere. Without thinking twice, he expressed his doubts to his older brother, a university professor of engineering and an expert in privacy teacher Kassem Fawazso that he could have an eye on the matter, explaining to him how he had detected the problem and how to reconstruct the same conditions in which he had been.

Investigate the issue with your student Yucheng YangProfessor Fawaz noticed that it was a small/big problem of privacydating back to a few years earlier (case of some webcams which were active and recording despite the gaze off), and which still seemed consistent: on iOS, android, Windows and Mac devices, using various video conferencing applications the mic was “off” when in reality it wasn’t really. A worrying prospect, if you think that with the mic off you might say something very embarrassing against your boss or, more simply, use direct, embarrassing or overly explicit language with your partner at home.

Video conferencing apps, in essence, don’t seem to be able to mute the microphone like they should, “fooling” the user that they did.

What seemed like a simple observation By the way became, after extensive study by Fawag and Yang, a true original conference, which investigated what happens to microphones when using video conferencing applications in general. With a sample of 223 different videoconferencing applications, many of which have spread internationally, the research was carried out thanks to a team of volunteers called, in fact, to use the applications normally, exploiting the tools made available by these to mute the microphone.

According to experience, in specific cases, audio can pass and be transmitted over the network even to a microphone muted, i.e. silenced, and this is of course an issue that will need to be addressed, at this point, probably in the context of the individual apps or respective operating systems, or at any rate do l subject of further analysis. It is very likely that it is a bug “Out of control”, assuming that the magnitude of the problem is indeed that indicated by the two researchers.

Even more curious, the “to run away“/ The audio data leak in question was further tested by an artificial intelligence algorithm, which was able to identify from background noise what the user was doing, with an accuracy of 82% (if he was cooking, eating or cleaning the house for example.) According to the researchers, the solution to the problem should be sought by providing software switches that explicitly disable the microphones, not in the application but in the operating system , or – at most – using hardware switches placed on computers or smartphones. certainly opens up new perspectives on privacy and should in no way be underestimated.

The result of the research will be presented by the two authors, in June, at the Privacy Technologies Symposium.


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It's not you, it's me: when the microphone spies on you without knowing it (News, New technologies)

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