Imagine yourself in a cozy cafe, sipping your favorite coffee, while attending a Zoom call and working on your laptop. Sounds comfortable, right? Now, what if I tell you that if a hacker wants, they can easily listen to the “sound of your typing” and decipher exactly what keys you are pressing? You don’t believe me, right? I didn’t believe it too until I stumbled upon the concept of Acoustic Side Channel Attack (ASCA), which uses AI to listen to your keyboard typing sounds to decipher your password.
Hackers Can Use AI to Record Keystrokes and Decipher What You Type
A recent study published as part of the IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops revealed that artificial intelligence (AI) has the capability to decode your password by analyzing the sounds of your keystrokes. A group of computer scientists from Cornell University, Durham University, University of Surrey, and Royal Holloway University of London conducted a simulation of a cyberattack using a deep learning model.
Through their research, they investigated the use of audio recordings taken from Zoom video conferences and smartphone microphones. They pressed all 36 keys on a MacBook Pro, including letters and numbers, 25 times each using different fingers and varying pressure. The outcome of this study led to a discovery.
The findings revealed that when the AI model was made to recognize keystrokes using audio captured through a smartphone microphone, it was able to achieve 95% accuracy. The accuracy level dropped to 93% when the same test was conducted for Zoom calls. However, Dr. Ehsan Toreini, co-author of the study at the University of Surrey believes that with time, the level of accuracy will exponentially increase.
It’s not a new concept to use audio snooping to uncover passwords. This type of cyberattack is called “Acoustic Side Channel Attack” (ASCA) and was first studied in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, it wasn’t taken seriously at the time. However, with the growth of AI and video conferencing, this threat could become more widespread than ever before. This recent study is a prime example of how AI can make this happen with almost 100% accuracy. The researchers have even indicated that hackers can make out your keystrokes by analyzing the movement of your hands and shoulders while you type.
Now, I know what you are thinking. How can I protect myself from such attacks? Well, the answer is simple yet complex. The best thing that you can do is to be mindful while typing out critical information like your passwords, bank credentials, and data alike in public situations. Make sure to mute yourself before you input such data while on a phone call as well as while you attend any video conference. You can even opt for biometric-based authentication procedures to avoid tying in your credentials completely.
Now comes the tricky part. As more and more devices come with built-in microphones, it’s difficult to ensure complete privacy. From our phones to smart home gadgets, everything seems to have audio-recording capabilities. What do you think about these research findings? What other measures could we take to safeguard ourselves against cyber threats? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.