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Nov 25, 2016 07:58 AM EST

Hijacked Headphones Can Now be Used to Spy on You


Do you know that when you use your headphones to listen to something private on your computer, your headphones can also be hijacked and your conversations can be listened to? This definitely sounds like a bad news to you but it's only imperative for you to be aware.

Your headphones can now take the place of your microphones in recording conversations or audio, and this was demonstrated by the researchers from Ben-Gurion University of Negev. Speakers or headsets, as well as microphones have a similar way of processing electrical signals. The speakers in your headphones turn electromagnetic signals into sound waves and pick up sound vibrations and transform them back to electromagnetic signals.

Ben Gurion researchers use a malware that utilizes a feature of RealTek audio codec chips which basically enables the speaker to record the audio even when there is no microphone attached to your computer. According to the researchers, RealTek chips attack on any type of desktop computer regardless if it is MacOS or running on Windows.

During their testing, the earphones they used were able to record the audio of a man's voice even if he was standing 20 feet away from the computer.

Mordecai Guri, the lead researcher confirmed that other devices with built-in speakers can be vulnerable to the attack as long as they feature a RealTek chip. No technique has been proven yet that will be able to combat this malware attack even if you try to disable the input and the output of your computer.

Guri warns that there is no easy fix to defeat this software and is it quite frightening. But for now the easiest thing you can do in order to protect yourself is to make sure all speakers or headphones are unplugged from your computer and devices when they are not in use.

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