Laser Pointers Can Hack Virtual Assistants from Long Distances

Bored with taunting your cat with your laser pointer? Why not try taunting your neighbor instead by hijacking his virtual assistant?!

While we all know that virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home by their very design, respond to sound commands, what researchers at University of Michigan and University of Electro-Communications, Tokyo have discovered takes things to a whole new level of the electromagnetic spectrum!

Reach Out and Hack Someone

Using nothing more than a simple laser pointer these researchers of arcane vulnerabilities were able to demonstrate that they could take over 13 different voice activated devices at distances up to 110 meters. The only limitations to the long-distance hack are the intensity of the beam and of course your sniping skills. Using a higher powered laser the researchers were successful at eliciting similar responses on phones and tablets.

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Impact of Vulnerability Depends on Assistant’s Use

If you are like many and use your smart assistant for nothing more than listening to the radio or asking about the weather then the impact of a hack would be minimal. However, if you are smart home aficionado your home’s security, shopping accounts and possibly even your credit cards and connected medical devices could be at risk from this vulnerability. Moving beyond assistants, phones and tablets, the researchers were able to demonstrate similar light based vulnerabilities in certain Ford and Tesla automobiles

IoT is Like the Wild West

Through the years we have documented vulnerabilities in all sorts of IoT devices from printers and refrigerators to automobiles and medical devices. The simple fact is device providers are far more interested in bringing new “wow” features to their products than they are building devices with robust security features.  That’s why you need a security partner like Konsultek. Our team of experts has the capabilities to identify vulnerabilities in your network and in the devices that connect to your network and then develop a customized security solution that keeps your organization safe from threats.

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