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Researchers hacked into Echo, Google Home through a laser

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Researchers at the University of Michigan and Japan’s University of Electro-Communications have discovered they can use lasers to silently “speak” to any computer that receives voice commands, which included smartphones, smart speakers like Amazon Echo, and Google Home, and Facebook’s Portal video chat devices, according to media reports.

Revealing results of a shocking experiment, the researchers noted it was possible to make microphones respond to light as if it were sound, which essentially means that anything that acts on sound commands will act on light commands.

Cybersecurity researcher Takeshi Sugawara — visiting from the Tokyo-based University of Electro-Communications — along with Kevin Fuand from University of Michigan have found a spy trick lets them send “light commands” from hundreds of feet away; they can open garages, make online purchases, and cause all manner of mischief or malevolence.

The attack can easily pass through a window, when the device’s owner isn’t home to notice a telltale flashing speck of light or the target device’s responses, Wired reported.

According to the researchers, the experiment was conducted on Google Home, Google Nest Cam IQ, multiple Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show devices, Facebook’s Portal Mini, the iPhone XR, and the sixth-generation iPad, and the mentioned devices were found to be vulnerable too.


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