An ingenious hack could allow unwanted access to Siri commands by simply sending radio waves to a pair of unshielded iPhone earbuds. While the hack is needlessly complex – the hacker could simply go over and press the headphone button by hand – it is an interesting exploit.
Researchers at French security organization ANSSI have discovered a way to send radio waves to microphones attached to iOS or Android devices. The waves, which are silent, simulate the button press associated with, say, waking up Siri and then can simulate voice commands. Once the phone is awake the commands could allow the hacker to send personal messages, access apps, and open the wallet.
Their findings appear in a paper published in Electromagnetic Compatibility.
“We present a smart use of intentional electromagnetic interference, resulting in finer impacts on an information system than a classical denial of service effect. As an outcome, we introduce a new silent remote voice command injection technique on modern smartphones,” wrote the researchers José Lopes Esteves and Chaouki Kasmi.
Once again, this is a complex attack and it is definitely not a pressing concern for most of us. However, you can prevent access by turning off Siri in the Allow Access When Locked selection in Touch ID & Passcode settings on iOS.
The researchers recommend that manufacturers shield their earbuds more actively, thereby preventing RF interference.