The Internet's been abuzz lately with news that computer scientists have found a way to transmit malware using ultrasonic audio signals. If true, this means that you'd never be safe from the hackers, as long as your computer has a microphone and speakers. But don't freak out just yet.
We reached out to the cybersecurity experts at Kaspersky Lab to find out how much of a threat this capability might really be. It's entirely possible, they said, that the German computer scientists who originally tested the idea of transmitting malware using nothing but sound were successful; after all, people have been exfiltrating data through technology like FM radio for some time. However, it's not like this thing is going to bring the mainframe crashing down.
"The problem is that the receiver needs to be physically close to the victim computer(s)," David Jacoby, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab, told Gizmodo. "What they have proven is that it's possible to exfiltrate data in non-traditional ways, but to make it possible the victim computers still need to be infected with some kind of malware."
So hackers would already need to have accessed your computer physically to install the malware and would then need to be just a few feet away to activate it. Depending on how closely you watch your computer, this is pretty unlikely. It's certainly not something that could enable hackers to punt a virus into a computer mainframe, like the Stuxnet worm was passed on to the computers in Iranian nuclear facilities without the help of a network. They used a USB stick, not this sort of super-acoustic sorcery.
Of course, don't let this news tempt you into dropping your guard. There are plenty of other ways for prying eyes to sneak into your life.
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