Researchers have shown that popular robot vacuums can spy on private conversations using its built-in light-sensing and telemetry sensor, according to NUSnews.
The research team, led by assistant professor Jun Han of NUS Computer Science, said that LidarPhone, the sensor that allows the robot vacuum to navigate safely around the house, can be reused in a laser microphone to listen to private conversations.
“The proliferation of smart devices, including smart speakers and smart security cameras, has increased the possibilities for hackers to snoop on our private moments,” said Sriram Sami, a doctoral student working with Professor Jun Han. assistant to NUS Computer Science.
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Sami continued, “Our method shows that it is now possible to collect sensitive data simply by using something as harmless as a household robot vacuum. Our work demonstrates the urgent need to find practical solutions to prevent such malicious attacks. “
As explained by the research team, here’s how a common robot vacuum cleaner can spy on your most private conversations:
The heart of the LidarPhone attack method is the Lidar sensor, a device that triggers an invisible scanning laser and creates a map of its surroundings. By reflecting lasers off common objects such as a trash can or a take-out bag located near a person’s computer speaker or TV soundbar, the attacker could gain information about the original sound that made the surfaces of objects vibrate. Using applied signal processing and deep learning algorithms, speech could be recovered from the audio data and sensitive information could be obtained.
In their experiments, the researchers used a common robot vacuum cleaner with two sound sources. One was the voice of a person reading numbers played from a computer speaker, while the other source was music clips from TV shows played through a TV sound bar.
The team collected over 19 hours of recorded audio files and fed them to deep learning algorithms that were trained to match human voices or identify musical sequences. The system was able to detect numbers spoken out loud, which could constitute a victim’s credit card or bank account numbers. Music clips from TV shows could reveal the viewing preferences or political orientation of the victim. The system achieved a classification accuracy rate of 91% when retrieving spoken numbers and an accuracy rate of 90% when classifying music clips. These results are significantly higher than a random estimate of 10%.
The researchers also experimented with common household materials to test their ability to reflect the Lidar laser beam and found that the accuracy of audio recovery varied between different materials. They found that the best material for reflecting the laser beam was a shiny polypropylene bag, while the worst was shiny cardboard.
If you’re worried that the government is putting surveillance in place – well our advice is to avoid wiring your house with smart devices – you can only imagine spooky scenarios if hackers or even the government are using robot vacuums. to spy on people.
To prevent such espionage, the researchers “recommend that users consider not connecting their robot vacuum cleaners to the Internet.”
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