when the microphone spies on you without knowing it ⋆ News

when the microphone spies on you without knowing it ⋆ News

One fine day, not yet decided if it was really “nice”, a boy was at home, making a video conference as usual, having been careful to turn off the microphone. He noticed, however, that the He directed of it had remained on, indicating that it was probably was still in operationand it was receiving sound signals and maybe even sending them somewhere. Without thinking twice, he communicated his doubt to his older brother, a university professor of engineering and an expert in Privacy teacher Kasem Fawazso that he could take a look at the matter, explaining how he had detected the problem and how to reconstruct the same conditions in which he had found himself.

Researching the issue with your student yucheng yangProfessor Fawaz noted that it was a small/big problem of Privacythat goes back a few years before (the case of some webcams that were active and recording despite being turned off), and that still seemed substantial: on iOS, android, Windows and Mac devices, using various video conferencing apps the microphone was “off” when, in fact, it wasn’t really. An unsettling prospect, if you think that with the microphone off you might say something very inappropriate against your boss or, more simply, use direct, embarrassing or overly explicit language with your partner at home.

Video conferencing apps, in essence, don’t seem to be able to disable the microphone as they should, “fooling” the user that they have.

What seemed like a simple observation on the way became, after in-depth study by Fawag and Yang, a truly original lecture, which investigated what happens to microphones when using video conferencing applications in general. With a sample of 223 different video conferencing applications, many of which were spread internationally, the research was carried out thanks to a team of volunteers called, in fact, to use the applications normally, taking advantage of the tools placed at their disposal. provision to turn off the microphone.

From what follows from the experiment, in specific cases, audio can pass through and be transmitted over the network even to a microphone off, i.e. muted, and this, of course, is an issue that will need to be addressed, at this point, probably in the context of the individual applications or respective operating systems, or in any case be the subject of further analysis. It is very likely to be a insect “It got out of hand”, assuming that the magnitude of the problem is really what the two researchers indicated.

Even more curious, the “drain“/ The audio data leak in question was further tested by an AI algorithm, which was able to identify from background noises what the user was doing, with an accuracy of 82% (if I was cooking, eating or cleaning the house for example.) According to the researchers, the solution to the problem should be sought by providing software switches that explicitly disable the microphones, not within the application but within the operating system, or, at most, using hardware switches placed in computers or smartphones. Which could be true, the latter, but we’re having a hard time imagining how that’s possible, to date. The research certainly raises new perspectives on privacy and should not be underestimated in any way. way.

The result of the investigation will be presented by the two authors, in June, at the Symposium on privacy-enhancing technologies.

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It's not you, it's me: when the microphone spies on you without knowing it (News, New technologies)

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