Hacking sensors isn’t as big an area of research as hacking operating systems and firmware, but the results of simple physical hacks can be far-reaching.
In a talk at Enigma 2017 Yongdae Kim, professor in the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s Graduate School of Information Security, showed how active and passive sensors can be hacked by simple laser pointer or speakers set on just the right frequency.
Passive sensors, like gyroscopes and magnetometers, simply measure their environment and report back. Active sensors, like radar and sonar, send out a signal and then take measurements on the return signal. Both are hackable relatively simply.
Many materials have a resonant frequency that causes them to oscillate – think breaking a wine glass with a high note – and it’s just a matter of finding that frequency.