It has now been established that mobile phones and other handheld devices have already overtaken conventional PCs as the medium for accessing the internet.
That straightaway pits these millions of devices, smartphones or tablets open to internet security threats of all kinds.
What is more critical is that many smartphone users also employ payment channels on their devices, and the seriousness of the threat becomes obvious.
The security provided for the phones to unlock includes voice recognition software, and is considered reasonably reliable. But voice can be copied and imitated and, as a result, phones can be unlocked.
Luckily, an app is being developed to help smartphones fight off such hacking threats and offer better internet security. The app will actually use magnetic fields within compass tools that are already available on these smartphones.
Different Ways to Create a Voice Clone
Based on forensic evidence seen in criminology, the human voice has in the past been successfully duplicated to deceive communication recipients.
There is the normal way of imitating someone’s voice—through practice or through an inherent histrionic capacity to listen and reproduce a similar sounding voice.
The other is to record a person’s conversation on any device and then use technology to produce an exact replica of the voice. When played back, the listeners may find it difficult to distinguish between the original and the duplicate.
Digital voice assistants like Siri or other such technologies can fall prey to these manipulations, and the voice hacking crowd would have no qualms about adopting any unscrupulous methods to perform the hack.
Here’s where the new research and the app aimed to enhance internet security can be of great use.
Research Efforts to Improve Internet Security
A prototype of the technology is being developed by a team of engineers at the University of Buffalo, New York. This team of engineers has basically come up with an app that can activate the compass tool within the smartphone whenever a voice command is used to unlock the phone or to perform any other function.
The concept is that the magnetic field present in the compass will be activated by the app and then the proximity between the voice generator and the phone can be detected by the magnetic field, resulting in the command getting blocked. This app would vastly improve internet security of smartphone users and would also make work all the more difficult for hackers.
Involvement of Technology
The proposed app-based internet security tool to prevent voice hacking assumes that the hacker will try and replay a voice resembling that of the phone’s owner to unlock the phone.
And once the phone is open, all passwords and other confidential data can be stolen and misused. This can put both users and many of their friends and/or contacts in jeopardy.
The hacker will have to use some sort of a speaker to deliver the voice sample, and the magnet in the speaker will be detected by the magnet in the smartphone’s compass tool. The app is programmed in such a way to create instant alert and block the phone from being unlocked.
There are also ways the trajectory mapping algorithm can come into play and the distinction can be made between a genuine human holding the phone close to his/her mouth and some kind of an artificial device delivering a voice command.
Work in Progress but Quite Realistic
Whenever such new developments hit the technology space, the initial knee-jerk public reaction is to play it down and express some reservations about its efficacy.
However, when you have chosen to practically entrust your whole existence to a smartphone that holds all of your private information, then even a small development that can offer internet security and protect your device from possible hacking attacks becomes important.
In addition, the app that’s demonstrated by this university team sounds quite convincing, and it does not require any external interference or extra hardware. The compass tool is already native in smartphones and this app, as and when it is developed and made available in app stores, can be downloaded and used.
The research team has mentioned that they are continually upgrading the app prototype and when it is finally offered for use on smartphones, it will be a perfect internet security tool.