We hear about our smartphones being vulnerable to attacks all the time, and with the rise in popularity in digital voice assistants, it seems that we now have a new avenue to be worried about. A report from FastCompany has revealed that Chinese researchers have discovered a new way that hackers can take control of your smartphone using your voice assistant.
Dubbed the DolphinAttack, this technique was discovered by a team at the Zhejiang University in which it uses normal voice commands that have been transformed into ultrasonic frequencies to communicate with your phone. These frequencies cannot be heard or detected by the human ear, but can be picked up by microphones and voice assistants, which if you have enabled it to be always-on will act on those commands where possible.
This isn’t just limited to smartphones but it works with any device that has an always-on voice assistant software running on it. For example the researchers managed to test it out on a MacBook and an Audi Q3 where they managed to get the car’s navigation system redirected to a new location.
However there is a potential fix and that is all companies need to do is tell their voice assistants to ignore commands that are speaking at 20kHz by using a digital audio filter, although the researchers suggest that in theory, the reason this hasn’t been done is because maybe the voice analyzing software needs every bit of your voice in order to parse the commands. In any case we can only hope that with this knowledge being public that these tech companies will try to come up with some kind of fix for it.