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A hard drive is a wonderful thing that can store hundreds of thousands of files in a tiny space. The components inside the hard drive that make magic happen are packed together very tightly. This leaves little room for errors when everything rotates at a speed of several thousand revolutions per minute at a distance of only a few nanometers.
Hard drives really, really dislike being beaten. That's why manufacturers began building shockproof systems many years ago. However, it is difficult for these systems to guard against vibrations caused by sound.
A team of American and Chinese researchers demonstrated an attack that uses ultrasound and audible sound to crash the drive. Influencing the drive with the correct frequencies at the right volume level can interrupt normal read and write tasks. This can even lead to physical damage to the drive.
Interestingly, the team was able to take control of the dynamics of the laptop and use them to disrupt the drive. They did this by simply automatically playing back the audio file embedded in the site.
Note that sound waves can be embedded not only on sites, but also in ordinary sound tracks. Thus, listening to your favorite music, Cannibal Corpse or the King and the jester, into which the attacker preliminarily introduced the necessary sound waves, you risk losing information on your medium, especially since you turn on this music yourself and listen to it at a sufficient volume ...
In other tests, they placed sound emitters next to a computer, a subwoofer, which is often placed on the floor and near a system unit or speaker. In both cases, operating systems (Windows and Ubuntu Linux) reported errors and ended up crashing.
The attack does not take long to make an impact. Just 45 seconds is enough.
Researchers also believe that these acoustic attacks can be carried out from a distance. Long range acoustic devices, such as those used by the police (in some countries) to control crowds, can potentially make sounds that carry the same effect.
This type of attack can be difficult to defend. New drives could be redone to better muffle external sounds, but this will not work for existing drives. Foam can help, but it can also retain heat - and excessive heat will also destroy the hard drive.