Home Cyber Attack Lamphone Attack Exploits Vibrations From Light Bulb To Spy On Users

Lamphone Attack Exploits Vibrations From Light Bulb To Spy On Users

by Abeerah Hashim
Lamphone attack targets light bulb

Recently, various studies regarding side-channel attacks surfaced online that exploited hardware to hack air-gapped systems. However, this time, a similar strategy has surfaced online that can snoop into a victim’s real life. Dubbed Lamphone, the attack targets light bulbs, exploiting its vibrations to record the sounds and steal data.

Lamphone Attack Exploiting Light Bulbs

A team of researchers has come up with a way to spy on anyone from a distance without a malware attack. Named as Lamphone, the new attack method allows an adversary to record light bulb vibrations for eavesdropping.

The attack works by recording the vibrations of a light bulb that generate when sound waves strike it. Using a remote electro-optical sensor, it becomes possible for an attacker to record the vibrations, segregate audio signals from the optical signals, and then reverse-engineer them to get to the real audio.

What makes this attack more dangerous than the previously discovered similar ones, is that it doesn’t involve malware. Hence, it does not require the attacker to meddle with any of the target’s devices.

All it takes to perform Lamphone attack is:

  • A telescope to focus on the target hanging bulb.
  • An Electro-optical sensor mounted to the telescope to transform captured photons from the light into electric current via the photodiode.
  • Sound recovery system to convert the input optical signals into audio signals.

Briefly, the attacker simply needs to focus on a hanging bulb of the victim’s room to capture the vibrations. Using the attack components, the attacker can then eavesdrop on all the conversations going on in the room. On top of that, the attacker doesn’t need to be present anywhere around the victims. Rather, thanks to the telescope, the attack can work well from even a distance of 25 meters.

The researchers have shared the technical details of the Lamphone attack in a white paper. Whereas, the following video quickly reviews the attack.

More Possible In A Real-Time Scenario

According to the researchers, Lamphone bears tremendous potential for exploitation in real-time. This is because the attack requires no malware, unlike similar attacks. Nor does it require advanced or extensive computing resources.

Moreover, the efficiency of the attack from long distances is another thing that makes it workable.

However, there are some limitations with the attack that users can leverage for applying countermeasures.

Firstly, for a successful attack, the adversary needs to be in direct line of sight to the bulb. Hence, covering the bulb with decorative covers, or installing decorations all around them prevents Lamphone attack.

Secondly, since the attack relies on the vibrations of the bulb, the sound to be captured in the room must be loud enough to generate vibrations.

Thirdly, the attack also depends on the amount of light emitted from the bulb. So, dimming the amount of light can also counter the attack.

Likewise, bulb with thick glasses and controlled light emission capability are also immune to this attack.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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