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Malware Can Enable Surveillance By Turning Headphones Into Microphones

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I call BS, hahah. The linked video is far from "scientific" and proves absolutely nothing to be quite honest. I got a good laugh though. Re-mapping the I/O of the integrated audio device chip does not mean that a speaker can magically become a microphone. =)

Edit: Down-voted into submission and embarrassingly humbled, yet again =)
 

nukemaster

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+1 boju
I used to do this all the time when my mic broke. It does work.
I am almost sure if you disable mic input(realtek) on your sound card even after swapping inputs should not work.
 
A speaker (driver) is essentially the same as a microphone. If you apply current to the magnet you pull in and when it releases (speaker) you push air.

If you push air on the speaker then conversely it is creating an electric current that can be detected by the system.

What surprised me was that the headphone path would detect this, but then we don't have great EMF protection anyway in most PC's.

Obviously USB headphones would not have this issue.
 

arterius2

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May 11, 2010
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I actually tried this with my earbud, after reading the article, it actually does work, I have to turn up the mic volume and gain to +20 in windows settings to get a decent pickup with it, a lot of background noise, but it does work man.
 

anbello262

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Sep 27, 2013
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I actually do this regularly.
And I believe that having the option to turn a mic port into a speaker port is a GREAT possibility, it helps a lot when sharing audio.
I even use earphones as accelerometers/vibration detectors. They make for some very cheap and readily available (inaccurate in amplitude, but reliable in frequency) sensors, better than most mics for this particular project.


But, one question:

Laptopt with built-in speakers, what can you do to defend yourself?
 

Syze00

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Nov 24, 2016
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I don't know why this took so long to figure out. Speakers and a microphone are pretty much the same thing if you look at the components. Thats why (generally) good microphone makers also make some of the best headphones. Only the ignorant majority don't want headphones that actually sound good. They want one endorsed by their favorite rapper and extra bass. If you don't believe me, plug your headphones into the mic jack and talk into it. You might need to try both ears but you should pick up audio since your just moving the diaphragm in the opposite direction.
 

snkeii

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that was my question. how would one keep pc speakers or even tv/monitor speakers from being exploited? most laptops have webcams and mics built in and im not sure they have the same socket swapping as a regular mb.
ive used a small speaker as a mic in a pinch a few times over the last 30 years or so. its not anything new.
 

Paul_228

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Nov 24, 2016
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If you're not using the speakers for playing back audio, insert just a plug (nothing connected to it) into the mic socket. Unless the audio connection is *totally* software based, this should physically disconnect the internal speakers via a switch on the socket. i.e. a 'hardware' disconnection which doesn't care what the software is doing. Keep the volume turned down anyway so as to avoid driving into an open circuit and the remote possibility of damaging the audio output stage.

Same principle applies to a plug in the mic socket.

NB This may not be 100% certain if the act of inserting the plug causes a window to pop up which asks for an audio device to be selected. In this case the audio switching is software controlled and could conceivably be hacked.
 

Or you can just unplug your headphones when not it use? And if you are using them, then you would obviously notice if the headphone jack had been remapped as a microphone input by the fact that your headphones stopped working.
 

anbello262

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I think that nowadays most switching capable chipsets do it purely in software.
If you have 2 plugs, you can have them both as inputs, or as outputs, or 1 and one in whatever order you desire.
So, pluging something into the unused one will have absolutely no effect on the used one.
 

cats_Paw

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Good lucky trying to do that thru Someone using optical to output to your speakers/headphones.
I will say that at this point I would not be surprised if my toilet can enable surveillance mode and tell the CIA how much magnesium my shit contains.

There is some good news to this all mass surveillance thou: Keeping this amount of data is not free, nor easy to organize.

You remember those CSI chapters where they lose some evidence cus they got too many evidences in the evidence room?
Well, try organizing the NSA...
I would not be surprised if thats why the cant find those damn terrorists they keep talking about. Too much useless data does not allow you to find the relevant one.

Hell, even the brain has an automatic method to delete non-critical data to not over saturate.
 

Nolonar

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Which most people don't have or use, unlike the classic audio jack.



Not free to keep, true. Not easy to organize, false. We've got databases for a reason.
SELECT address FROM data WHERE name='John Doe';

Also, who cares if it's not free to keep, as long as you can sell these to any interested 3rd party?
How do you think Google became this huge, when all they did was host a free-of-charge search engine? They collected your search history and used it to show you personalized ads, for which other companies gladly payed a fortune.



I don't watch CSI, but I still remember that job interview from Google, where they asked all sorts of questions they couldn't have asked unless they had collected a ton of data. It was creepy as hell.
They certainly hadn't lost any evidence, nor did they have any trouble finding exactly the right one about the person they were interviewing.

Also, don't believe in everything you see on TV, especially not if it's entertainment. According to most US police shows out there, the police won't shoot criminals that are trying to flee, even though they were told at gunpoint not to move. In reality, they'd be shot to death.



Because the brain can't grow indefinitely, nor can it shrink its cells or replace them either.

You need more storage space? Just add another disk. You've got too many disks? Buy a newer, denser disk, transfer all the data, and replace the old disks with the new one. Rinse & repeat.
 

problematiq

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A large problem with doing anything to mitigate this via software, is that it can be reversed with malware.
 
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