While this is a troubling development for fans of smart home technology, Light Command isn't going to make all your smart speakers and displays easily hackable. "This means that anything that acts on sound commands will act on light commands". Most smart speakers, and other smart devices have a microphone so that they can hear the user's command.
What could they command the voice assistants to do?They successfully levied attacks using ordinary laser pointers, laser drivers, a telephoto lens and even a souped-up flashlight.
"We find that five mW [milliwatts] of laser power - the equivalent of a laser pointer - is sufficient to obtain full control over many popular Alexa and Google smart home devices, while about 60mW is sufficient for gaining control over phones and tablets", the report said.
Researchers were able to send these spiked laser beams and control most smart speakers from a distance of 164 feet.
Researchers at the University of MI and Japan's University of Electro-Communications have revealed how they could control smart speakers and other gadgets by simply pointing a laser at them, which was injected with a voice command.
Nonetheless, we do have a couple of solutions to guard against this security problem if you indeed do want to enable your voice assistant. Smart speakers don't often come with extra security protections - if you issue a voice command, it just works.
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In one experiment, researchers set up a Google Home device in a fourth-floor office, then hit it with a laser set up in a bell tower, giving a distance of 75 meters (246 feet) between the two.
As the high-tech "smart home" is increasingly controlled by voice commands issued through devices like Google Home or Alexa, it becomes enormously susceptible to outside attacks - to say nothing of the surveillance possibilities.
The researchers' video shows how LightCommands work. Most microphones, they said, would have to be redesigned.
The vulnerability can be used to break into other systems that are connected through a smart speaker like smart home devices, connected garage doors, online shopping, remotely starting some vehicles, and more.
"While causing negligible reflections, the double-pane window did not cause any visible distortion in the injected signal, with the laser beam hitting the target's top microphones at an angle of 21.8 degrees".
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