iphone siri

Hackers can control your iPhone or Android smartphone by just using radio waves. Radio waves can send commands to Siri and Google Now.

French researchers found an interesting way to control your Apple and Android smartphones. Researchers working for French government agency ANSSI were able to hack, not really hack, but to control Apple devices with help of Siri, and Android devices with help of Google Now. They could silently access smartphone voice commands by sending voice commands through radio waves. These radio waves are not heard by phone owners.

Researchers were able to hack the smartphones from a distance of 16 feet.

How It Works? Radio Waves to Control Siri and Google Now

Basically they used a radio transmitter to tap to tap into a pair of headphones with microphone which were plugged into the mobile device. The headphone cable was used as antenna. Next the surreptitious electromagnetic waves were converted into electrical signals that appear to the phone’s operating system to be audio coming from the user’s microphone. So, without speaking any words, hackers could tell commands to Siri and Google Now asking them to sent texts and make calls. Or even worse, send spam and phishing messages via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

listening music headphones

Headphones are a good antenna, as many smartphones uses them as antenna for the integrated FM radio. The devices were hearing the commands as coming from the microphone.

The hack can be accomplished from up to about six and a half feet away with not so elaborate equipment. If you use dedicated hack equipment packed in a car or van, the range can be extended up to 16 feet away.

Recommendations

The only way to prevent the hack would be that the iPhone and Android to use the screen to enable the voice listening. For example the iPhone owner should have Siri disabled from the lock screen.

To disable access to Siri, you have to go to Settings > Touch ID & Password. Scroll down and uncheck Siri under Allow Access When Locked.

For more security you can go back to Settings > Control Center and disable Access on Lock Screen. It will prevent a stolen iPhone to be placed into Airplane Mode without turning off.

The researches informed Apple and Google about their exploit. They have recommended that companies should provide a better security and mechanism for their own headphone cords. Also one important thing, they suggested that Apple and Google should let users to create custom voice prompts instead of “Hey Siri” and “OK Google”.

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