That YouTube video may be putting you at risk from hackers, researchers warn


You would think that there was nothing more harmless than kitten video?

Well normally that would be the case but this particular YouTube video may be trying to take over your phone.

Researchers have found out that a muffled voice on the said video may be issuing commands to nearby smartphones without you even knowing it.

The researchers have described the threat in a research paper and will present this at the USENIX Security Symposium in Austin Texas next month.

They will also demonstrate it in the video.

Voice recognition has grown in popularity in recent years and it is certainly useful but it does make phones easier to hack warned Micah Sherr, a Georgetown University professor and one of the paper’s authors.

The team found that devices could still recognise commands even when they were barely detectable by humans.

In this case the voice issues the command “OK Google, Open” and a phone nearby opens the webpage.

The phone could easily be instructed to take a photo or go to a site containing malware.

“It might not work every time but it’s a number’s game. If a million people watch a kitten video with a secret message embedded, 10,000 of them might have their phone nearby. If 5,000 of those load a URL with malware on it, you have 5,000 smartphones under an attacker’s control,” Sherr added.

“If the hackers know the ins and outs of the voice-recognition software itself and know its internal workings, they can create voice commands that are even harder to decipher by humans”.

The researchers uploaded some samples – some of which work and some don’t but the threat is certainly real.

To get around this, developers of voice recognition software will need to add filters that can decipher between human and computer generated voices. We await the outcome.


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