Sonic and Ultrasonic Signals Can Crash Your Hard Drive

By

Your laptop speakers are capable of destroying your hard drive.

Imagine an episode of Mr. Robot where Elliot could crash the target hard drive remotely using ultrasonic signals. This story is closer to reality than it seems.

Security researchers from the University of Michigan and Zhejiang University in China have published a paper that demonstrates that the latest hard drives can be crashed using sonic and ultrasonic signals.

Attackers can exploit the vulnerability to destroy hard drives of targets. “Adversaries without special-purpose equipment can cause errors in the hard disk drive using either audible or ultrasonic acoustic waves. Audible waves vibrate the read/write head and platters; ultrasonic waves alter the output of the HDD’s shock sensor, intentionally causing the head to park,” said researchers.

You don’t need specialized devices to produce these signals. The sound can be created by the speakers of the laptop itself.

“Our tests have measured a Dell XPS 15 9550 laptop’s output to be as high as 103 dB SPL from 1 cm away from the laptop. We have observed write blocking using signals as low as 95.6 dB SPL. This demonstrates the possibility of using the laptop's own speakers to attack its own hard disk drive,” said the researchers.

So, pay attention to sounds in your surroundings.

06/05/2018

Related content

comments powered by Disqus