Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Light and Sound - the next mobile malware vector?

   With all the talk about Prism in the security news, we didn't hear about much else.

   But here's an interesting story... Researchers at University of Alabama, Birmingham verified that malware, or other actions, can be triggered on a mobile device by sounds, music or light!

   From the article:
   "In one instance, the researchers used music in a crowded hallway to launch an attack on an off-the-shelf Android phone. In others, the malicious code was activated by a song with a particular pattern or the ambient light from a TV, computer monitor or overhead light bulb."

   For most of their experiments, the source of the sound or light needed be very close to the target device.

   Right now this is only experimental.  However, we know that well over 50% of mobile phone users in the US have smartphones.  And these phones have input sensors for light, sound and motion.  Essentially, we are all carrying devices that not only track our location and movements, but can record, and be influenced by, the environment around us.

   It will be interesting to track this research and see the ongoing new ways in which these ubiquitous devices can be exploited.

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