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CSIRO's Data61 Developed Voice Liveness Detection 'Void' to Safeguard Users Against Voice Spoofing Attacks


Spoofing attacks that impersonate user's devices to steal data, spread malware, or bypass access controls are becoming increasingly popular as the threat actors expand their horizon with the improvisation of various types of spoofing attacks. Especially, voice spoofing attacks that have been on a rise as more and more voice technologies are being equipped to send messages, navigate through smart home devices, shop online, or to make use of net banking.

In a joint effort for the aforementioned concern, Samsung Research and South Korea's Sungkyunwan University and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) Data61, came up with 'the voice liveness detection' (Void) to keep users safe against voice spoofing attacks.

In order to detect the liveness of a voice, Void gains insights from a visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies known as 'spectrograms' – it makes the functionality of void a little less complex compared to other voice spoofing methods that rely on deep learning models, as per Data61.

How Void helps in detecting hackers spoofing a system? 

The void can be inserted in consumers' voice assistance software or smartphones in order to spot the difference between 'a voice replayed using a speaker' and 'a live human voice', by doing so it can easily identify when a cybercriminal attempts to spoof a user's system.

While giving further related insights, Muhammad Ejaz Ahmed, a cybersecurity research scientist at Data61, told, “Although voice spoofing is known as one of the easiest attacks to perform as it simply involves a recording of the victim’s voice, it is incredibly difficult to detect because the recorded voice has similar characteristics to the victim’s live voice,” he said.

“Void is a game-changing technology that allows for more efficient and accurate detection helping to prevent people’s voice commands from being misused.”

'Paranoid' Blocks your Smart Speakers from Spying on you


Smart speakers have proven to be one of the most versatile gadgets of the era, the high-tech AI companions can do everything from playing music to ordering a meal with just the sound of your voice. They come with virtual assistants ready to answer all your queries, other features include reminding you of appointments, telling about the weather and news along with helping you to control your smart home devices.

Amazon's Echo and Google's Nest are two of the widely employed smart speakers. However, these devices also raise security concerns in regard to the voice captured by the speakers but in order to avail services of a voice assistant that as a matter of fact operates on voice commands, you can't block it from listening to your voice.

To make the experience easier and safer, a new device known as 'Paranoid' is made to enter the tech space, it is designed to block your Amazon Echo or Google Home smart speaker from listening to your voice until you say the word, "Paranoid" which is the device's wake word. After saying the word, the gizmo allows your smart speaker to listen.

Another thing to take notice of is the simplicity in the operations of Paranoid, it's extremely easy to use, it simply needs to be connected to the smart speaker in order to block it from spying upon you –meanwhile,  it still allows the speaker to be voice-activated. In order to activate it, all you have to do is to say "Paranoid" every time before you say "Okay, Google!" or "Alexa!"

The device comes in three different variants, The Home Button, Home Wave, and Home Max. It has no antenna, no SIM card slot, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi and no kind of wireless capability. As per its website, the makers claim that their device is "hack-proof".

The Home Button is the simplest model, it is placed on Amazon Echo's mute button and presses it manually. The second one, the Home Wave is designed to jam the microphones on your smart speakers and the most sophisticated one, the Home Max requires you to send your Amazon Echo or Google Home Devices to Paranoid headquarters stationed at Edmonton, Alberta. There, experts will attach your speaker's microphone cable to an external Paranoid device by cutting off the original cable. After the completion of the process, your smart speakers will be sent back to your address.

All the three models of Paranoid can be purchased from its official website; the original charges of the device and services are $49, however, as of now it will cost only $39.

Computers can be hacked through a "smart" light bulb


Smart light bulbs can not only make the lighting in an apartment and house more convenient and cheaper but also threaten the safety of their owners.

Experts have proven that hackers can hack computers through smart light bulbs. The vulnerability in the smart home system was noticed by cybersecurity company Check Point.

Experts have discovered a way to hack computers through a lamp using a Philips smart home system. At the first stage, the virus program is downloaded to the victim's smartphone and causes the lighting to fail. Experts have noticed that the only way to fix the problem is to reinstall the app, so the user deletes the program and re-downloads it to their phone.

At the stage when the owner of the lamp connects it to the smart home system, attackers take advantage of the vulnerability in the ZigBee protocol, which Philips uses. At the moment of pairing between the lamp and the smart hub, the malicious algorithm causes an overflow of the system buffer, which bypasses the antivirus and is installed on the computer's disk. After that, the device goes under the remote control of hackers.

Check Point experts said that the study has already attracted the attention of the manufacturer of smart lamps and eliminated the gap in the system. Experts advised owners of the Philips smart home system to update their software.

Experts have found vulnerabilities in Philips smart bulbs (at the moment, the problem with these devices has already been solved), but it is possible that similar vulnerabilities are found in many other smart home devices.

Earlier EHackingNews reported that in the fall of 2019, an IT specialist from Russia and blogger Anna Prosvetova discovered a vulnerability in Xiaomi Furrytail Pet Smart Feeder. Since feeders are used when the owners leave the house for a long time, pets may starve to death. The vulnerability was discovered in the application API through which feeders are controlled.

Milwaukee Couple's Nest Smart Home Hacked, Vulgar Music was Played


Smart home products designed by Nest such as smart cameras, smart displays, smart thermostats, and smart doorbells to make our lives more comfortable and safe, may not be all that safe according to a horrifying incident reported by a Milwaukee, Wisconsin based couple, Samantha and Lamont Westmoreland.

 After a hacker hacked into the couple’s home and took control of their gadgets, Samantha said, "It's (installation of gadgets) supposed to make me feel safe, and I didn't feel safe", "My heart was racing, I felt so violated at that point."

As per a report by Fox 6 News, on September 17th, Samantha returned home in which she has Nest camera, a doorbell and a thermostat installed, and found the atmosphere unreasonably warmer, she immediately noticed that her smart thermostat has risen up to 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).

Initially, she assumed it to be a glitch and set it back to the room temperature, but it kept on going up after every time she turned it down. A while later, the couple heard a voice talking to them from their Nest camera and afterward it played vulgar music. Samantha went ahead, unplugged the camera and turned it to face the ceiling. They changed the passwords of all the three devices but as the issues persisted, they resorted to contacting their internet service provider to have their network and Ids reset.

The couple was of the opinion that their Wi-Fi network and Nest camera was hacked, putting the actual problem into perspective, Lamont Westmoreland said, "If someone hacks into your Wi-Fi, they shouldn't be able to have access to those Nest devices without some sort of wall they have to get over,"

In a conversation with Fox 6 News, the couple revealed that the smart home accessories they had installed at their home since last year, cost them $700, and that they have never faced any problem before this; however, in the wake of this terrifying incident they had a change of mind regarding smart home devices.

Meanwhile, responding to the disturbing experience, a spokesperson of Google, told a media outlet, “Nest was not breached. These reports are based on customers using compromised passwords. In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of security risk,"

TP-Link's SR20 Smart Home Router Discovered To Come With a Vulnerability As Per Google Security Researcher




TP-Link's SR20 Smart Home Router is recently discovered to come with a vulnerability allowing arbitrary command execution from a local network connection as per a Google security researcher Matthew Garrett. The router, launched in 2016, uncovered various commands that come with root privileges and do not even require validation.

The endeavor was uncovered by the researcher after he was unable to request a reaction from TP-Link, and even published a proof-of-concept to exhibit the said weakness.

Garrett took to twitter to clarify that the TP Link SR20 Smart Home Router accompanying TDDP (TP- Device Debug Protocol), which is influenced with a few vulnerabilities, and one of them is that version 1 commands are 'exposed' for attackers to exploit.

He says that these uncovered directions enable aggressors to send an order containing a filename, a semicolon, to execute the procedure.

 “This connects back to the machine that sent the command and attempts to download a file via TFTP (Trivial File Transfer Protocol) corresponding to the filename it sent. The main TDDP process waits up to four seconds for the file to appear - once it does, it loads the file into a Lua interpreter it initialized earlier, and calls the function config_test() with the name of the config file and the remote address as arguments. Since config_test () is provided by the file that was downloaded from the remote machine, this gives arbitrary code execution in the interpreter, which includes the os.execute method which just runs commands on the host. Since TDDP is running as root, you get arbitrary command execution as root,” he explains on his blog.

In spite of the fact that Garrett says he reported to TP-Link of this vulnerability in December, by means of its security disclosure form, the page disclosed to him that he would get a reaction within three days, however hasn't heard back from them till date. He additionally said that he tweeted at TP-Link with respect to the issue, yet that gathered no reaction either.