Feeds

Google Chrome has voice-snoop bug, claims developer

Sneaky microphone switch-on popunder demo published

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A frustrated developer claims that Google is sitting on a bug that would expose voice search to eavesdroppers, and has released exploit code on github.

Tal Ater, whose speciality is speech recognition, claims in this blog post that a site can plant script in Chrome that will allow an attacker to turn on the microphone of a visitor to a site – and leave it open for as long as Chrome remains open.

He has posted the code to github.

When it's working right, Chrome's voice search allows a visitor to any site to ask for voice control, at which point the microphone is turned on – and the user gets a clear indication that this has happened, Ater writes. This choice is also remembered for the future.

However, he says, a malicious site could exploit this by opening "popunders" that users aren't aware of. Here's his description of how this works:

“When you click the button to start or stop the speech recognition on the site, what you won’t notice is that the site may have also opened another hidden popunder window. This window can wait until the main site is closed, and then start listening in without asking for permission. This can be done in a window that you never saw, never interacted with, and probably didn’t even know was there.”

The popunder can also be disguised as (for example) a banner ad – and it won't show the indication that the microphone is listening.

Ater has posted this demonstration to YouTube:

Youtube Video

Ater claims he notified Google about the flaw in September 2013, but that Google is waiting on “ongoing” discussions at the W3C before it acts on the bug. The Register has asked Google for a response. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, watchdog claims
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.