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Can headphones be hacked and used for surveillance?

iphone earphones surveillance
Written by Dario Komsic

Headphones, we dont see them as something malicious. To us they are only a piece of equipment through which we play our favourite tunes and relax a little while enjoying our playlist.

We all know that our computers and mobile phones can be hacked, and some people even advise that we cover the webcams on our laptops with a piece of tape, except when we’re not using them ofcourse. Since it is quite possible, if your computer is infected, someone might be watching you through that tiny little camera on your laptop.

No need to panic. Nodoby is watching you and your computer is most likely not infected. If you use a proper antivirus and don’t download stuff from scammy websites and don’t visit those same sites at all, you should be safe. But are you really?

can headphones be hacked

can headphones be hacked

Can headphones be used as a microphone?

As a recent study conducted in Israel shows, YES they can.

Even if your headphones do not have a microphone built in, they can still be used as a microphone in order to listen to your private conversations.

A team of scientists in Israel has developed a code, that if gets in your computer, can use your headphones as a microphone and that way record all conversations you have while your headphones are plugged in your computer.

Technically its not the headphones that get hacked, its your computer.

If this piece of software gets in your computer ( as a part of a malware ), it will actually turn your headphone jack into a microphone jack by changing your sound card settings. That way the hackers will be able to record all your conversation, any time they want, as long as your headphones are plugged in ofcourse.


Some of you might think, how can a sound be recorded with headphones, headphones are meant to produce sound not record it? You’re indeed correct, headphones are only meant to be used in order to produce sound and play it to your ears, however the process can be reversed because microphone is basically a reversed speaker. And speaker is actually a reversed microphone, of sorts. So yes, this is done just by reversing the process of outputing and recording sound. Quite simple.

iphone earphones surveillance

iphone earphones surveillance

While conducting these tests, scientists were able to record all sounds that were up to 6 meters away from the earphones themselves .

All of these tests were done on computers with success, however all of the same can be done on smartphones,tablets, and all other tech gadgets that have a headphone jack.


How to stay safe from malwares like this one?

Its actually quite simple. Just be mindful of the software you download and websites you visit. Do not download pirated software from illegal websites, avoid scam sites ( if you’re unsure if a website is a scam, just google: website name scam , and do a quick search to determine if its safe to visit or not ). Get yourself a good antivirus, free antiviruses are good for basic browsing, but aren’t adequate enough. I really suggest you use a paid antivirus, because in the long run, its definitely worth it. It will keep your computer safe from all malwares, not just this one, and your computer will be virus free, and fast too. From my own personal experience I recommend these paid antiviruses,trust me, its definitely worth it,and here are some of my best Antivirus recommendations, that can be bought easily on Amazon:

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 1U 1Y 2016
List Price: $29.99
Price: $29.99
Price Disclaimer
Bitdefender Total Security 2016 1PC/1Year
List Price: $42.00
Price: $42.00
Price Disclaimer


To sum it all up, if you’re worried about this, just make sure to keep your headphones unplugged unless you’re using them, and make sure not to download software from some “illegal” or “scammy” websites, get a good antivirus,like the one I suggested above , and you’re pretty much safe.





About the author

Dario Komsic

I'm an Engineer, Entreprenour, Web Devoleper, Graphic Designer, Tech Enthusiast and Audiophile who likes to read, write, work and explore all about new tech stuff, gadgets, phones, computers, you name it.

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