Security researchers can turn headphones into microphones

Security researchers at Israels Ben Gurion University have created a proof-of-concept exploit that lets them turn headphones into microphones to secretly record conversations. The PoC, called Speake(a)r, first turned headphones connected to a PC into microphones and then tested the quality of sound recorded by a microphone vs. headphones on a target PC. In short, the headphones were nearly as good as an unpowered microphone at picking up audio in a room.

The hack is fairly ingenious. It essentially retasks the RealTek audio codec chip output found in many desktop computers into an input channel. This means you can plug your headphones into a seemingly output-only jack and hackers can still listen in. Our experiments demonstrate that intelligible audio can be acquired through earphones and can then be transmitted distances up to several meters away, wrote researcher Mordecai Guri. In addition, we showed that the same setup achieves channel capacity rates close to 1 Kbps in a wide range of frequencies.

Most of todays built-in sound cards are to some degree retaskable, which means that they can be used for more than one thing. the kernel exposes an interface that makes it possible to retask your jacks, but almost no one seems to use it, or even know about it, wrote Linux sound engineer David Henningsson. Thats exactly the exploit Speak(a)r uses.

This isnt a driver fix, either. The embedded chip does not allow users to properly prevent this hack which means your earbuds or nice cans could start picking up conversations instantly. In fact, even if you disable your microphone, a computer with a RealTek chip could still be hacked and exploited without your knowledge. The sound quality, as shown by this chart, is pretty much the same for a dedicated microphone and headphones.


Modern PC and laptops motherboards include integrated audio codecs hardware which allow for modification of the audio jacks functionality from output to input within software, said Guri. In this paper we examine this issue in the context of cyber-security. We present SPEAKE(a)R, a software that can render a PC, even once without microphones, into an eavesdropping device.

Luckily this is still a proof-of-concept so you dont have to dunk your headphones in acid yet.

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Canarys smart security camera now works with Apple TV

Security camera company Canary has today addressed one of the few complaints customers had with its product: there wasnt an easy way to watch your cameras feed on your TVs big screen. That has now changed with the launch of a new version of the Canary app, which adds support for Apple TV. This lets you view the live stream from your camera on your television, as well aswatch the recordings saved to your timeline.

The addition makes Canary far more useful, as it hadbefore focused on bringing its remote viewing capabilities to users smartphones. Of course, thatshelpful for when youre away from the house, or in another room. But many people want to more passively track their cameras feed at times like when youre keeping an eye on the kids playing in the yard, or when youre having a party and you want to see whos parking out front, for example.


For those with a single Canary device, the new Apple TV app will launch straight to the Dashboard view. Here, you can choose to watch the cameras feed live or access your timeline. For those with multiple devices, the app will allow you use the Location view to move between different locations.

To view a specific event, you just click on the thumbnail image. You can also tap the Apple TV menu button to view a single entry, then bookmark or delete the event from your timeline by selecting the appropriate button.

A Related Videos section underneath each event will take you to the next or previous event in the timeline.


Canary, for those unfamiliar, makes an affordable $199 security camera for use in the home, and it recently debuted its untethered counterpart for outdoor use, called Canary Flex.After initially getting its start onIndiegogo, the companyraised over $41 million in venture funding. Its devices are now sold byAmazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Walmart, Apple, and Verizon, in addition to its own website.

The appeal for the device is a combination of price and ease-of-use. Its not difficult to set up, and even easier to use on an everyday basis thanks to its simply designed mobile application.

Along with the launch of its Apple TV app, the new Canary app (v2.0.2) will also support tablets, including both Android and iPad, as well as Android Wear.


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