The first Ultrasound-firewall for mobile phones is born

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The first Ultrasound-firewall for mobile phones is born and it’s free. It detects acoustic cookies, brings them to the attention of users and if desired, blocks the tracking

The first Ultrasound-firewall for mobile phones is born. It has been developed by researchers at St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, in the framework of project SoniControl, and it’s free on the web. The aim is to expose and eventually block any attempt of cyber espionage, using this technology. Smartphones and tablets through so-called audio tracking, can be used by means of ultrasound to unnoticeably track and monitor the behaviour of their users: for example, viewing certain videos or staying in specific rooms and places. Furthermore new technologies, dubbed “data over audio”, use ultrasonic sounds to exchange information between devices via loudspeakers and microphones. So there is a concrete danger that someone can infiltrate the mobile phone with a cyber-attack and spying it’s owner.  The SoniControl project developed a mobile application that detects acoustic cookies, brings them to the attention of users and if desired, blocks the tracking.

The St. Pölten University: It can detect and block different existing ultrasound-transmission techniques reliably and in real time

“The most challenging part of developing the app was to devise a method that can detect different existing ultrasound-transmission techniques reliably and in real time”, said Matthias Zeppelzauer, Head of the project and Senior Researcher in the Media Computing research group of the Institute of Creative\Media/Technologies at St. Pölten UAS, quoted in a news on the University website. “In order to accept voice commands, the mobile phone microphone is often permanently active – he continued -. Every mobile application that has access to the microphone as well as the operating system itself can at any time without notice: activate the microphone of a mobile device, listen to it, detect acoustic cookies and synchronise it over the Internet”, added Zeppelzauer explaining that only a permanent deactivation of the microphone would help. But the device as a telephone would become unusable.

The researchers are working now on IoT to enables secure communication and protects user privacy

The St. Pölten University is now working on a new project: SoniTalk. It’s related to the Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies. This, because an increasing number of devices are communicating with one another and with smartphones/tablet, using ultrasonic communications. So there is the same problems encountered in mobile sector. Furthermore the IoT devices are known to be used in botnet for DDoS massive cyber-attacks. In this contest, the researchers are working to lay the groundwork for a new free standard in the field of ultrasonic communication that enables secure communication and protects user privacy.

The integral news on the University website

The SoniControl website