Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have uncovered new hard-to-detect methods involving music, lighting or vibration that criminals may use to trigger mobile device malware.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said, "When you go to an arena or Starbucks, you don't expect the music to have a hidden message, so this is a big paradigm shift because the public sees only emails and the Internet as vulnerable to malware attacks."
A team of UAB researchers was able to trigger malware hidden in mobile devices from 55 feet away in a crowded hallway using music.
They were also successful, at various distances, using music videos; lighting from a television, computer monitor and overhead bulbs; vibrations from a subwoofer; and magnetic fields.
"We showed these sensory channels can be used to send short messages that may eventually be used to trigger a mass-signal attack," said Nitesh Saxena, director of the UAB Security and Privacy in the Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research.