Hackers Can Now Use Light Bulb Vibrations to Eavesdrop on Conversations!

Hackers Can Now Use Light Bulb Vibrations to Eavesdrop on Conversations! Researchers from the Israeli’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Weizmann Institute of Science have revealed a new technique for long-distance eavesdropping they call “lamphone.” They say it allows anyone with a laptop and just a telescope and a $400 electro-optical sensor to listen in on any sounds in a room that’s hundreds of feet away in real-time, simply by observing the minuscule vibrations those sounds create on the glass surface of a light bulb inside. By measuring the tiny changes in light output from the bulb that those vibrations cause, the researchers show that a spy can pick up sound clearly enough to discern the contents of conversations or even recognize a piece of music. In their experiments, the researchers placed a series of telescopes around 80 feet away from a target office’s light bulb, and put each telescope’s eyepiece in front of a Thorlabs PDA100A2 electro-optical sensor. They then used an analog-to-digital converter to convert the electrical signals from that sensor to digital information. While they played music and speech recordings in the faraway room, they fed the information picked up by their set-up to a laptop, which analyzed the readings. The researchers found that the tiny vibrations of the light bulb in response to sound—movements that they measured at as little as a few hundred microns—registered as a measurable change in the light their sensor picked up through each telescope. After processing the signal through software to filter out noise, they were able to reconstruct recordings of the sounds inside the room with remarkable fidelity.

 

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