Lately, it seems that there is a lot of surveillance paranoia about and people are being a bit more careful what apps they are allowing to use the microphone on their device. This new trick could make your phones gyroscope act as a crude microphone and there is currently no way to stop it.
In a presentation at the Usenix security conference, researchers from Stanford University and Rafael, Isreal’s defence research group are planning to present a technique they have found to eavesdrop on people using gyroscopes that are already in smartphone devices. Gyroscopes are tiny sensors that enable the device to find out its orientation and allows motion-based games, auto-rotate and even camera stabilisation. Now researchers have found that they are sensitive enough to turn into crude microphones because they can pick up soundwaves. For android users, unlike the microphones that are built into the phones, there is no way to deny an app or website access to the sensor or data, meaning there is no way to turn it off.
Due to the crude nature of the microphone it’s certainly not very practical, only certain sounds and words are clear enough to understand. However, Boneh says that more work on speech recognition algorithms could refine the quality and make the audio far clearer. He also has said that this should serve as a warning to google to change how easily Android apps could exploit the sensors and that its actually quite dangerous the amount of access they have to them. Iphones do have gyroscopes in them, but they are limited to how sensitive they are, this means that they are not susceptible to this trick, but also means that google could just tweak the software and make sure that Android devices are private.
Thanks to Wired for supplying us with this information.
Image courtesy of Rob Rogers