Kaspersky Lab patents method to protect people from audio surveillance

By Press Release | Updated 28 Jun 2017
Kaspersky Lab patents method to protect people from audio surveillance
  • Kaspersky Lab has devised a method to counteract unauthorized access to microphone data on Windows devices and is being used in Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security

Kaspersky Lab has patented a method to help people protect themselves from audio surveillance. The company has devised a method to counteract unauthorized access to microphone data on Windows devices and claims that no other security solutions on the market have integrated technologies to protect microphones from malicious access. The method is used in the company’s home solutions, Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security.

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Read the complete press release below

Everyone wants to be safe from spying on their own computers. To help people protect themselves from the threat of audio surveillance, Kaspersky Lab has patented a method to counteract unauthorized access to microphone data on Windows devices. The method is used in the company’s flagship home solutions – Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security – and, at that moment, no other security solutions on the market have integrated technologies to protect microphones from malicious access.

To control access to user audio data, it is necessary to monitor all requests to the microphone in the operating system, and block those where access is unauthorized or conducted by an untrusted program. If users simply switch the microphone off, or cover it with tape, they are not solving the problem, because it may still be possible for intruders to record sounds from around the device via loudspeakers or other methods. There is currently no default special protection from unauthorized access to user audio data in the Windows OS. This is why Kaspersky Lab experts developed a new approach – and patented it. 

Kaspersky Lab’s technology filters internal commands sent to, or received by, the Windows Audio service, and indicates the creation of each new audio stream by any application. After this, the technology uses Kaspersky Lab’s Application Control feature, which categorizes all programs as “trusted”, “low/high restricted” or “untrusted” depending on their reputation, content and manufacturer. If it recognizes that an ‘untrusted’ or ‘low/high restricted’ program is trying to access the microphone, the request is immediately blocked.

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Alexander Kalinin, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab, one of the authors of the technology, says: “User privacy is very important to us, which is why we are developing technologies to keep users’ digital lives safe from malicious access. When it comes to audio protection, the main difficulty in the development of this technology was the existence of an audio stream multiplexing system within Windows, so that several applications can record sound simultaneously. However, this problem was resolved easily with help of our rich kernel driver infrastructure, which includes a mechanism to control commands between Windows services”.
Audio protection is part of the Privacy Protection set of technologies included in Kaspersky Lab’s home security solutions. It also contains Webcam Protection – which notifies users about access to their integrated or connected webcam - and the Private Browsing feature, which blocks any attempts to collect data on users via a web-browser. Both features are available for Macs and PCs.

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