Hackers will be able to silently control, Siri and Google Now, the digital personal assistants of Apple and Google, respectively. A team of researchers from ANSSI, a French government agency focused on information security, discovered that they can use radio waves to trigger silently voice commands and control any Android phone with Google Now and iPhone with Siri as long as a headphone with microphone is plugged into the devices.
The researchers found that Google Now and Siri listen and respond to any voice, not just the owner of the device. According to them, they can control the personal assistants from a distance of 16 feet.
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The researchers used the cord of the headphone as an antenna and utilized its wire to converted electromagnetic waves into electrical signals, which appeared to the operating system as an audio that coming from the device’s microphone.
Critical security impacts
According to the researchers, a hacker can use a radio attack and command Google Now or Siri to make calls and send text messages. Hackers can use the devices to eavesdrop, send the phone’s browser to a malware site, send spam and phishing messages through email or social network sites.
In a paper published bu the IEEE, French researchers, José Lopes Esteves and Chaouki Kasmi wrote, “The possibility of inducing parasitic signals on the audio front-end of voice-command-capable devices could raise critical security impacts.”
Vincent Strubel, the director of the research group at ANSSI, said, “The sky is the limit here. Everything you can do through the voice interface you can do remotely and discreetly through electromagnetic waves.”
“You could imagine a bar or an airport where there are lots of people,” says Strubel. “Sending out some electromagnetic waves could cause a lot of smartphones to call a paid number and generate cash,” added Strubel
Silent voice command hack on Google Now, Siri has serious limitations
Based on the researchers’ study, the silent voice command hack on Google Now and Siri has serious limitations.
Hackers can only send radio waves to control the personal assistants silently when microphone-enabled headphones or earphones plugged into the Android phone or iPhone.
Additionally, attentive users will probably notice that their phones are receiving mysterious voice command and would automatically cancel it.
The Google now on most Android phone are not enabled from the lock screen and it is set to respond only to commands when it recognizes the voice of the users. However, Siri is enabled by default on the iPhone’s lock screen and it has no voice identity feature.
Apple iMac, Magic wireless accesories
Meanwhile, Apple updated its entire iMac family. The tech giant said its 21.5-inch iMac sports a stunning Retina 4K display while the 27-inch iMac is equipped with Retina 5K display. The new iMacs are also integrated with powerful processors and graphics, two thunderbolts two ports, and new storage options.
Apple also introduced a new lineup of wireless accessories including the all-new Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad 2. According to the tech giant, its Magic devices have been redesigned and integrated with rechargeable batteries to eliminate the need for disposable batteries.
Phillip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing at Apple said, “From the first iMac to today, the spirit of iMac has never wavered — deliver the ultimate desktop experience with the latest technologies, gorgeous displays, and cutting-edge designs.”
Schiller added, “These are the most stunning iMacs we’ve ever made. With our gorgeous new Retina displays, more powerful processors and graphics and all-new Magic accessories, the new iMac continues to redefine the ultimate desktop experience.”