Some people spend their days and technical expertise trying to make the world a better place. Others do stuff like inventing technology to spy on unsuspecting civilians. This new tech in the proof-of-concept stage that turns a PC’s audio codec output into an input is a bit of both.
The similarity between microphones and speakers make the eavesdropping possible: Speakers and headphones use the changing magnetic field induced by electrical signals to move a diaphragm to produce sound. Similarly, with mics, a diaphragm moves through a magnetic field according to the sound’s air pressure. In short, a bidirectional mechanism that means your headphones and speakers could feasibly be used as a microphone.
This is a great idea if you’re a fan of listening in on people’s private lives, which oddly seems to be the favorite pastime of many a weirdo.
The technology is called SPEAKE(a)R and is being developed at the Ben Gurion University in Israel by security researchers. Luckily the researchers don’t seem to be developing it to sell to some dodgy spying agency, instead they are looking into ways that it could be prevented, as the concern is the re-tasking of the audio codec on computers could potentially be done automatically by software with bad intentions.
Wearable technology and the collection of data potentially leading to invasive activities by those who feel the need, is topic that’s been talked about quite a lot. As headphones are in fact wearable, we thought we’d help spread the word about this research into the prevention of eavesdropping technology.