Will Your Next Virus Come From Your Microphone and Speakers?

May 26th, 2016

will_your_next_virus_come_from_your_microphone_and_speakersIt may sound like science fiction, but researchers have now proven that computer viruses can not only be transmitted via your computer’s audio system, they can even communicate with each other via that same medium.

The hard-to-believe story began some three years ago, when security expert Dragos Ruiu found several of his PC’s infected with a heretofore unknown virus. It was strange enough for a security expert to become mysteriously infected like this, but stranger still was the fact that the viruses on different machines remained in constant communication with each other, even after Ruiu disabled the machine’s wireless and Bluetooth capabilities.

When that didn’t stop them, he disconnected the Ethernet and power cables, but the viruses kept right on talking to each other, so he physically removed the wireless cards from all the machines, thinking that surely this would stop them from communicating.

It didn’t.

Perplexed, he was left with only one theory. Only one possible explanation. The viruses had to be taking over his computer’s microphone and speakers, and communicating via high-frequency sounds that are beyond the range of normal human hearing.

Unfortunately, his hypothesis was written off as crackpottery by most of the security industry – until now.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics, in Germany, have proven Ruiu’s hypothesis to be true. Further, they’ve discovered a virus called BadBIOS that does indeed spread through computer microphones, and could communicate with and update copies of each other (and even infect non infected machines) at a range of up to sixty-five feet.

There’s one saving grace. The bandwidth of this method of attack is extremely small, amounting to only a handful of bits per second, so a virus like this cannot (yet) be used to steal large files. As a keylogger though, it’s perfect, and the most insidious example of a viral threat to date.

No matter what the means of attack, networks are at a great risk. If you haven’t recently had a security network audit completed, now is the time. Whether you are a small or medium sized business, our team can help evaluate your network and help minimize the risk. Give us a call today.

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