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How to Turn a Coke Can Into an Eavesdropping Device

Cyber-researchers are testing the bounds of optical attacks with a technique that allows attackers to recover voice audio from meetings if there are shiny, lightweight objects nearby.

BLACK HAT ASIA — A soda can, a smartphone stand, or any shiny, lightweight desk decoration could pose a threat of eavesdropping, even in a soundproof room, if an attacker can see the object, according to a team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

At the Black Hat Asia security conference on Thursday, and aiming to expand on previous research into optical speech eavesdropping, the research team showed that audio conversations at the volume of a typical meeting or conference call could be captured from up to 35 meters, or about 114 feet, away. The researchers used a telescope to collect the light reflected from an object near the speaker and a light sensor — a photodiode — to sample the changes in the ...

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