Israeli Scientists Found A Way To Spy Just By Looking At Light Bulb

Indranil Maiti21 June 2020 4:05PM IST
2 min read814

What comes to your mind when you hear the term hacking? Maybe a weak password, or some ultra-cool technique that can access your digital life. But back in your mind you always know that's only digital life, at least you are safe in your personal life.

Will you feel safe if I tell you, scientists have found a way to listen to your conversation by using a light bulb. And the scariest part is, hackers don't even have to bug your home. All they need a hanging light bulb, which is a common household thing. So, how can a light bulb open door into your private life?

Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, have been trying to find a way to eavesdrop without using malware or bug. This kind of hacking is very unique, as this makes, the user aware of their false sense of security. How does it work?

Sound wave is nothing but air pressure passing through space. When sound waves pass through any object, it displaces that object a little. For relatively big objects, like a light bulb, it affects at the microscopic level. But this teeny tiny deflection can cause a small change in light output. A telescope and an electro-optic sensor is enough to record the small change even from a long distance.

In the experiment the researchers kept the telescope 80 feet away from the target building, pointing to a light bulb inside that building. While they played two songs and a speech recording in the target room, the telescope and the sensors were able to recreate the same sound at real-time. Standford computer scientists Dan Boneh said,

Even if this requires a hanging bulb and high decibels, it's still super interesting. And it's still just the first time this has been shown to be possible. Attacks only get better, and future research will only improve this over time.

Next time when you start discussing private matters with someone, do remember to keep all the windows and doors shut.