Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mic-Lock thwarts audio snoopers


Last year CEO Mark Zuckerberg celebrated Facebook reaching 500 million monthly users by posting a photo of himself on Instagram. The background of the photo also made news.

One sharp-eyed viewer noticed that the Mac on the desk behind Zuckerberg had tape over it's camera.

No big surprise there - folks like NSA leaker Edward Snowden have warned us about snoopers getting access to our webcams. Even former FBI director James Comey covered his laptop camera.

But the photo also showed a bit of tape over the microphone port of the MacBook behind Zuckerberg.

Can snoops also listen to us throughout computer's microphone jack? The answer, it turns out, is yes. An article published by Wired magazine described one possible approach:

Researchers at Israel's Ben Gurion University have created a piece of proof-of-concept code they call "Speake(a)r," designed to demonstrate how determined hackers could find a way to surreptitiously hijack a computer to record audio even when the device's microphones have been entirely removed or disabled. 

And now one company has come up with an easy device to block that vulnerability.

Mic-Lock is a small device that looks like the plug end of headphones or earbud. The Mic-Lock developers say the device "tricks your computer" into thinking that it is connected to a live mic.

With the Mic-Lock plugged in, it becomes the computer's default microphone - but no audio is transmitted. In essence, Mic-Lock makes the computer or smartphone deaf.

The device is designed to work with Windows or Mac computers and with Android or iOS phones an tablets.

The Mic-Lock sells for $4.99 and is available on the Mic-Lock website.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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