Home Wireless chargers inject voice commands, damage phones

Wireless chargers inject voice commands, damage phones

February 22nd – The ‘VoltSchemer’ attacks involve injecting voice commands into a smartphone’s voice assistant using the magnetic field emitted by a standard wireless charger.

VoltSchemer can cause physical damage to a phone and can generate intense heat, potentially resulting in temperatures in excess of 500F (260C), which may also affect nearby items.

How it works

VoltSchemer is an attack type that leverages electromagnetic interference to manipulate a charger’s behavior. Researchers successfully tested an attack on nine popular globally-available wireless chargers, revealing vulnerabilities in their design.

Wireless charging relies on electromagnetic fields and electromagnetic induction, with a transmitter coil generating an oscillating magnetic field and a smartphone’s receiver coil converting it to electrical energy.

Cyber criminals can manipulate the charger’s input voltage to create an interference signal, disrupting the magnetic fields without physical modification or malware.

Essentially, VoltSchemer exploits security flaws in the hardware design of wireless charging systems and the protocols governing their communication.

Frying devices

Smartphones have been engineered to stop charging upon reaching full battery capacity, preventing overcharging. Usually, charging information is conveyed to the charging station, instructing the stations to decrease or cease power supply.

However, the interference created by VoltSchemer’s noise signal can disrupt this communication, leading to the maintenance of maximum power delivery and overcharging. In turn, this can result in overheating of the smart phone on the charging pad, posing a serious safety risk.

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