DolphinAttack: the surprisingly easy way to hack every voice assistant out there (Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant too)


There is a surprisingly easy way to hack voice helpers like Siri and the Google Assistant on every modern phone out there using nothing but a $3 hardware with a simple amp and a speaker.

The list of vulnerable devices includes Apple iPhones and Androdi phones, as well as just about every smartphone with a voice assistant out there.

tSo how is it done? It turns out that microphones on our devices can hear tones at ultrasound frequencies the human ear cannot easily discern. All it takes then is an amp that will convert speech to those frequencies, and a gadget that emits those sounds can trick an assistant to do everything a user might usually command it to do, without the actual user hearing anything. The hack uses frequencies above the 20kHz limit of human ears.

And there is no easy fix.

“Microphones’ components themselves vary in type, but most use air pressures that probably cannot be blocked from ultrasounds,” Gadi Amit, an industrial designer for products like Fitbit said for FastcoDesign.

And there is already a name for this kind of attack: the "Dolphin Attack", named after the ultrasound that dolphins use for echolocation. And here is a demonstration of the clever hack:


source: FastcoDesign

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18 Comments

1. Jesseclark

Posts: 28; Member since: Jun 10, 2017

Found out, it can't fool bixby. JOTD

5. adecvat

Posts: 640; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Because User already turn it off.

6. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Lol +1.

8. Podrick

Posts: 1285; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Savage lol.

9. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

Savage AF, haha hahaha

11. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Haha! BUTTHURT! Here have some butthurt creme and dont forget to fill out the forms too.

13. bonsly16

Posts: 94; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Are you talking to yourself again?

12. Wickedsamaritan

Posts: 83; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Yet you have forgotten apple promised you 100% hackproof.. funny how you found yourself making fun of an Individual perspective above a multi-billion company that promised you 17 virgins

14. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Some of you Samsung fans are total killjoys...

15. Wickedsamaritan

Posts: 83; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

Kiko remmeber when i said you traded your common sense for james Bond 007 series ? Are you trying to redeem yourself?

17. iushnt

Posts: 3097; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Why would someone turn Bixby off as it is so good. I found it much better than Siri. Also it cannot open with any one else's voice than the owner itself.

2. Soundjudgment

Posts: 370; Member since: Oct 10, 2016

I never thought a cheap, rott-gut phone-mic could **EVER** hear any sounds above 20K!

3. Cambapo

Posts: 23; Member since: Dec 24, 2015

Just process the signal with a band-pass filter with a bandwith that covers only the human voice range of frequencies, and afterwards you can do the speech recognition paraphernalia. Seems like an easy enough fix for me.

4. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

There's no easy fix? Why not set it up so that the microphone's frequency response has a crossover gate to only accept anything from 20-20kHz (the range of normal hearing)? A microphone is essentially a speaker that is sensitive enough to become excited by environmental sound. On our intercom system the speakers in the room act as microphones during 2-way voice communication. And since speakers can have their frequency range limited through the use of a crossover network, the same should apply hear as well. I'd imagine it's possible to implement a virtual crossover network in software, where the program/app would only accept input from a certain frequency range. There are some car audio head units that have built in crossovers for the low level signals passing through them, so the same thing here should apply.

7. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

This would be a problem for the iPhone since the HomePod uses ultrasound to pair with iPhones.

16. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

There's no reason they couldn't set up something like sound profiles, where in some apps the microphone could use it's full frequency range and in other apps only use the range of human voice or hearing. It wouldn't have to be a hardware limit that would affect everything, but something that could be determined on a case by case basis.

10. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1324; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Is this the same as those insect/pest repellers? Because I can hear those from a mile away and they are annoying AF.

18. CitizenX

Posts: 41; Member since: Jun 27, 2014

I don't know if people out there realise how HUGE this is. They make it sound so trivial, but the implications are enormous...

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