Computer hard drive can be destroyed by acoustic attack from ordinary speakers

Information security specialists from Michigan and Zhejiang universities cross-checked each other's work and confirmed the discovery of a new critical hardware vulnerability. A huge number of classic hard drives around the world are potentially affected.

The reading head of the hard disk must be positioned extremely accurately in space, for which it is equipped with different sensors. It was they who were chosen as the object of the attack - it turned out that ultrasonic vibrations from the outside could well provoke interference. And if you build the right attack tactics, then a series of failures in the head control system will force the defense mechanism to mistakenly move it outside the operating zone. And this is irreversible damage to the device itself and the recorded data.

You can do without ultrasound, say Chinese researchers - if the speaker system is powerful enough, then ordinary sound waves can create dangerous vibrations. We are talking about displacement of the disk head by hundredths of a millimeter - a strong pop or blow on the device's case is enough to disrupt its operation. Moreover, this can be done even with the help of the system's own speakers, for example, in a Dell XPS 15 9550 laptop, the acoustic system gives out a volume of 103 dB, and 96.5 dB is enough to break a hard drive.

It is relatively easy to provoke such an attack if you know the exact location of the victim and the emitting device. A simple script is enough to activate the sound card, and the computer does not need to be hacked - you can simply send a "modified" music file that the user will launch himself. Numerous computers are especially vulnerable in government agencies, where outdated cheap equipment is often installed, and users are not highly qualified in information security.