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On the Feasibility of Acoustic Attacks Using Commodity Smart Devices

by   Matt Wixey, et al.

Sound at frequencies above (ultrasonic) or below (infrasonic) the range of human hearing can, in some settings, cause adverse physiological and psychological effects to individuals. In this paper, we investigate the feasibility of cyber-attacks that could make smart consumer devices produce possibly imperceptible sound at both high (17-21kHz) and low (60-100Hz) frequencies, at the maximum available volume setting, potentially turning them into acoustic cyber-weapons. To do so, we deploy attacks targeting different smart devices and take sound measurements in an anechoic chamber. For comparison, we also test possible attacks on traditional devices. Overall, we find that many of the devices tested are capable of reproducing frequencies within both high and low ranges, at levels exceeding those recommended in published guidelines. Generally speaking, such attacks are often trivial to develop and in many cases could be added to existing malware payloads, as they may be attractive to adversaries with specific motivations or targets. Finally, we suggest a number of countermeasures, both platform-specific and generic ones.


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