According to a new study by the researchers of the University of Michigan and the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo, it has been established that lasers can now be used to hijack voice assistant devices. This means your Smart Home Assistant is at the risk of being hacked.
Though initially, you might think that the scheme seems quite far-fetched but in reality, it is actually a lot easier to carry out and your device is more prone to such hacks if your device is close to a window.
The researchers have come up with a video presentation where it is showed a laser modulated by a laser driver and audio amplifier can focus its beam onto the Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microphones of smart home devices to mimic a human voice.
Previously, Smart Home Assistants were not considered much as a target but now, they are increasingly linked to compatible Smart Home Devices such as garage doors and electric vehicles so the estimated risks are getting higher and higher.
Researchers of the University of Michigan and University of Electro Communications in Tokyo who worked in this research said: “User authentication on these devices is often lacking or non-existent, allowing the attacker to use light-injected voice commands to unlock the target’s smartlock-protected front doors, open garage doors, shop on e-commerce websites at the target’s expense, or even locate, unlock and start various vehicles (example: Tesla and Ford) that are connected to the target’s Google account.”
An Amazon spokesperson in response to an inquiry regarding this research said: “Customer trust is our top priority and we take customer security and the security of our products seriously. We are reviewing this research and continue to engage with the authors to understand more about their work.”
Likewise, Google said: “We are closely reviewing this research paper. Protecting our users is paramount, and we’re always looking at ways to improve the security of our device.”