Hackers can now attack smartphones through earphones

14 Oct 2015

Hackers can now access and issue commands on your smartphone using earplugs

Researchers at French information security agency ANSSI have found a way to use radio waves to silently trigger voice commands on iPhones or Android smartphones if they use earphones and have Google Now or Siri enabled.

The researchers used the headphones’ cord as an antenna and exploited is wire to convert electromagnetic waves into electrical signals that told the phone that commands that appear to be audio are coming from the microphone, according to Wired.

The researchers could then use the hack as a way to tell Siri or Google Now to send texts, dial numbers, send the browser to a malware site or send spam and phishing emails.

According to a post published on IEEE, the researchers exploited the principle of front door coupling on smartphone headphone cables with specific electromagnetic waveforms.

The researchers were able to mount the attack on a smartphone using a laptop with GNU Radio, a USRP software-defined radio, an amplifier and an antenna.

Once they were within six-and-a-half feet of a smartphone the attack could be mounted. But if connected to a larger set of batteries inside a car or van the range could be extended to 16 feet.

Smartphone image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years