Researchers show how to turn a phone's gyroscope into a crude microphone for eavesdropping

Did you ever think your phone's gyroscope could be used to monitor your conversations? Apparently it can. According to Wired, in a presentation at the Usenix security conference next week, researchers from Stanford University and Israel's defense research group Rafael will present a way to eavesdrop on conversations using its gyroscopes, not its microphones. According to the report, gyroscopes, which are the sensors designed measure the phone's orientation, can be tampered with to make them into eavesdropping sensors. Using a piece of software the researchers built called "Gyrophone," they were able to make the gyroscope sensitive enough to pick up some sound waves, making them basic microphones. Further, there is no way to deny apps the ability to access gyroscopes the way users can for mics built into phones.

"Whenever you grant anyone access to sensors on a device, you're going to have unintended consequences," Dan Boneh, a computer security professor at Stanford, told Wired. "In this case the unintended consequence is that they can pick up not just phone vibrations, but air vibrations."

However, the technique isn't that practical for actual eavesdropping, the report said, noting that it works well enough to pick up a fraction of the words spoken near a phone. When the researchers tested the technique's ability to discern the numbers 1 through 10 and the syllable "oh" in a simulation of how credit card numbers could be stolen, they could identify as many as 65 percent of digits spoken in the same room as the device by a single speaker. Article

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