Hackers can take control over Cortana using inaudible voice commands

By: Ivan Jenic
2 minute read

You probably have a slight idea of how a hacking process goes. It involves a bunch of coding, typing, and other staff regular people simply don’t understand. But there’s one hacking method that’s way different than others, and you’ll be amazed when you see it at work.

Researchers from China’s Zhejiang University have found a way to take control over your device’s virtual assistant (most likely Cortana in your case), using inaudible voice commands. This method is known as the DolphinAttack, and it involves using the ultrasonic commands, that cannot be heard by human ears. 

As it appears, none of the major virtual assistants is immune to the attack. So, it can be applied to Cortana, Siri, Google Now, and even Alexa. According to researchers, this method is equally effective on each device that features a virtual assistant, including smartphones, laptops, cars, etc.

Here’s the demonstration video that shows how researchers are using frequencies above 20kHz on a cheap audio hardware to take control over iPhone’s Siri:

As scary as this looks, you probably don’t need to worry too much about it. To perform this action, a lot of outside factors play a big role. Namely, in order to take control of your device, an attacker needs to be very close to your device. Also, there needs to be a minimum of environmental noise. And we’re sure you’d agree, that’s not an easy task on the attacker’s end.

Here’s the complete research documentation, so you can check it out for more info about the DolphinAttack.

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