You may have seen some techniques for avoiding spying, such as plugging the laptop’s microphone and putting tape on the webcam – this is done, ironically, by people like Mark Zuckerberg . But few people remember another device that can be used to listen to your conversations: the headset. Even though it has no built-in microphone.
The idea is simple: most headphones have small membranes. Your computer sends electrical signals over the wire, and the membranes vibrate to turn them into sound waves. However, this can be reversed: if you have already plugged a headset into the PC’s audio input by mistake , you realized that it was still possible to pick up sound, because the vibration of the membranes was transformed by the computer.
Well, researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Negev, Israel, have created experimental malware that can change the settings of Realtek sound cards – which is most likely the manufacturer of your card. They demonstrated that it is possible to make the audio output act as an input, turning a headset into a microphone and allowing a malicious person to overhear your conversations.
According to Wired , the researchers were able to hear conversations recorded from six meters away through a Sennheiser headset. These recordings, of course, can also be compressed and transmitted over the internet. So, in possession of some embarrassing speech from you, a hacker can threaten you and ask you to commit crimes, which is very Black M… ok, no. But the threat is real.
This may be very paranoid, but if you are a person who covers the webcam and microphone, remember to disconnect your headset as well.