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Can Your Smartphone Be Hacked Through Sound Waves?

There are many surprising ways that hackers can access your smartphone. Perhaps the most surprising is that cyber criminals can hack your phone via sound waves.

Hackers have gotten much more creative over the years. From gaining control of smartphones that are offline to creating apps that download phishing software, hackers are using sophisticated methods to control your devices. If you’re concerned that your device might currently be infected with malware, or if you want to simply check on the security of your device, use the Security Scan feature to quickly check your phone for malware:

One of the most surprising — and potentially very dangerous — new methods of hacking is hacking smartphones using sound waves. Researchers suggest that a sound wave security flaw could make millions of smartphones, as well as smart devices and even cars, vulnerable to hacking. While learning of yet another way that cybercriminals can steal your information can be unsettling, the best way to protect yourself from attacks is by being informed on the latest threats. The following will answer three of smartphone users’ most pressing questions about sound wave vulnerabilities.

Read More: Your Phone Can be Hacked Even When It’s Offline

How Can Sound Waves Affect Your Phone?

Sound waves can affect your phone’s accelerometer. An accelerometer is a very small sensor in your phone that helps it to detect movement. This is useful when you’re tilting your phone or counting your steps, for example. Even from a distance, these sensors can be tricked into sensing a fake motion signal. Essentially, if hackers find the right frequency to affect the sensor, the accelerometer will read data that isn’t true to life.

Has This Hack Been Reported in the Real World?

Not yet. Only researchers in labs have been able to exploit the sensors’ vulnerabilities. But in the labs, scientists have been able to manipulate the sensors in many different devices. For example, the researchers took over a music file to make a smartphone add the word “Walnut” to its accelerometer readings and took over an app involving a toy car.

How Can Hackers Use This Technology?

Even if you don’t care if hackers add extra steps to your Fitbit, the technology has serious consequences in the real world, especially as we link more and more devices to our smartphones. For example, if shaking your phone were linked to your car’s engine starting up, hackers could start your car remotely. Think about what this would mean on a large scale.

Right now, scientists and policy makers are still considering the implications of these findings. As of now, we don’t necessarily have the features on our phones that could make the hack detrimental. Manufacturers will certainly have to secure these sensors as we connect our smartphones to more and more important objects and devices.