Could Bad (Read: Malicious) Music Take Over Your Car?

We’re hurtling towards of the era autonomous car, which is cool but it’s also going to cause all kinds of problems. Here’s one: could malicious music take over your self-driving car? Forget CIA hacks. We’re talking malware-laden music. From New Atlas:

What if someone could take control of an autonomous car simply by playing a piece of music embedded with malicious sound frequencies? Researchers at the University of Michigan have provided compelling evidence highlighting how a variety of technologies including smartphones, fitness wearables and automobiles can be hacked using specific acoustic tones.

An incredible array of devices we use every day rely on internal sensors that read and react to their surroundings in real time. These technologies are known as Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and the capacitive MEMS accelerometer is one of the more widely used sensing systems. It’s found in many modern gadgets, from implantable medical devices to crucial industrial systems and consumer gadgets.

A University of Michigan team discovered that by deploying precisely tuned acoustic tones, these accelerometers could be fooled into registering false movement readings. These false readings could be so precisely calibrated that they enabled the researchers to take control of some of these devices.

“The fundamental physics of the hardware allowed us to trick sensors into delivering a false reality to the microprocessor,” explains Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Kevin Fu.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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