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Sonic and ultrasonic attacks damage hard drives and crash OSes

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posted on May, 30 2018 @ 10:01 PM
Found this and thought i'd share here. Researchers have found a way to disrupt hardrives using sound from over the counter or built-in speakers. While the article does mention there are easier ways to take down computers. It's always good to know about such things and there's always the chance this could be developed further. It reminds me a bit of the sonic attacks that happened recently. Sound's always been a useful weapon for people.

Blue Note: How Intentional Acoustic Interference Damages Availability and Integrity in Hard Disk Drives and Operating Systems(PDF link)

Attackers can cause potentially harmful hard drive and operating system crashes by playing sounds over low-cost speakers embedded in computers or sold in stores, a team of researchers demonstrated last week.

The attacks use sonic and ultrasonic sounds to disrupt magnetic HDDs as they read or write data. The researchers showed how the technique could stop some video-surveillance systems from recording live streams. Just 12 seconds of specially designed acoustic interference was all it took to cause video loss in a 720p system made by Ezviz. Sounds that lasted for 105 seconds or more caused the stock Western Digital 3.5 HDD in the device to stop recording altogether until it was rebooted.

The technique was also able to disrupt HDDs in desktop and laptop computers running both Windows and Linux. In some cases, it even required a reboot before the PCs worked properly.

The technique works because audible sound can cause an HDD’s head stack assembly to vibrate outside of normal bounds. The vibrations push the head far enough from the center of the drive track to temporarily prevent writing. Ultrasonic sound, by contrast, can create false positives in an HDD’s shock sensor, which is designed to prevent a head crash. This causes a drive to unnecessarily park its head. Besides being used against computers and surveillance systems, the researchers said the attack might also target medical devices that use magnetic HDDs.

The research is largely esoteric, because there are already much easier ways to temporarily take down computers and embedded systems. Still, it raises the possibility that, one day, attackers may have a new means to perform denial-of-service attacks.

edit on 30/5/2018 by dug88 because: (no reason given)

edit on 30/5/2018 by dug88 because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2018 @ 10:05 PM

and the screen on our clackity boxes waverin at 4 to 11 hz. gives calming or not caring effect on say, a day trader, sorta on the same line there
edit on 30-5-2018 by GBP/JPY because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 30 2018 @ 10:08 PM
Every PC case has a resonant frequency. That was the fun and annoying thing of DOS game progamming. The sound was never the same on any two PC's and some frequencies would be louder than others. Wonder if it could be made to give people headaches like those embassy staff in Cuba?

posted on May, 30 2018 @ 11:00 PM
This is very interesting. The paper provides enough information to replicate the attack. And the components can easily be sourced for anyone interesting in trying it.



posted on May, 31 2018 @ 05:25 AM
*Wonders about the sonic attacks in Cuba and (I think) China*


posted on May, 31 2018 @ 08:36 AM

There is even a story about someone jumping in a Data Center and causing hard drives to have problems however I cannot for the life of me find the story. Of course as SSDs become more popular I doubt this will remain a very useful attack for very long.

posted on May, 31 2018 @ 08:42 AM
a reply to: Helig

Helig I can think of some very very specific uses for it ... But it's me, and we both know if I'm not actually posting said uses they're probably pretty useful.

posted on May, 31 2018 @ 11:23 AM
a reply to: dug88

Meh, it's been done.

People with cathode ray tube TV's or computer monitors kept complaining about scrambled signals, so I moved their speakers or surrounded sound systems away from the screen-problem solved.

However you can't forget planned obsolescence. Many tech companies place the resistors near a heat source like a CPU because what happens when you place ceramics near a heat source? it cracks so if that happens you need a new phone or PC.

So if these techco's are capable of that, who knows what else they can do?

posted on May, 31 2018 @ 11:13 PM
That's interesting. Speaker is basically two big magnets.

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