As if there weren’t enough reasons to be paranoid in the digital era, researchers in Israel have now confirmed that hackers can spy on you via your headphones. While the idea of hacking a phone or computer’s microphone is nothing new, the new study reveals that hackers can record conversations via headphones even when a microphone is turned off or disabled.
The method works through a specific malware which repurposes a speakers’ earbuds into a microphone, “converting the vibrations in air into electromagnetic signals to clearly capture audio from across a room,” Wired reports. Perhaps most alarming, the hacked headphones can theoretically record audio from up to 20 feet away.
This all may sound a bit dystopian, but it’s very real. “People don’t think about this privacy vulnerability,” says Mordechai Guri, who lead the Israelie research team behind the findings. “Even if you remove your computer’s microphone, if you use headphones you can be recorded.”