Siri, Alexa, and Google Home Hacked With Lasers

By webmaster

Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are vulnerable to attacks that use lasers to inject inaudible—and sometimes invisible—commands into the devices and surreptitiously cause them to unlock doors, visit websites, and locate, unlock, and start vehicles, researchers report in a research paper published on Monday. Dubbed Light Commands, the attack works against Facebook Portal and a variety of phones.

Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are vulnerable to attacks that use lasers to inject inaudible commands into the devices

Shining a low-powered laser into these voice-activated systems allows attackers to inject commands of their choice from as far away as 360 feet (110m). Because voice-controlled systems often don’t require users to authenticate themselves, the attack can frequently be carried out without the need of a password or PIN. Even when the systems require authentication for certain actions, it may be feasible to brute force the PIN, since many devices don’t limit the number of guesses a user can make. Among other things, light-based commands can be sent from one building to another and penetrate glass when a vulnerable device is kept near a closed window.

The attack exploits a vulnerability in microphones that use micro-electro-mechanical systems, or MEMS. The microscopic MEMS components of these microphones unintentionally respond to light as if it were sound. While the researchers tested only Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Facebook Portal, and a small number of tablets and phones, the researchers believe all devices that use MEMS microphones are susceptible to Light Commands attacks.

It’s almost a certainty that malicious Light Commands attacks haven’t been used in the wild, and it’s likely attackers have much more work to do in making them practical. Still, the discovery of a viable way to inject light-based commands is significant, despite the limitations and challenges to making them work reliably and without detection in real-world settings. Until now, command-injection attacks required proximity to a targeted VC device. Light-based injections represent a novel attack vector that may require device makers to construct new defenses.

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