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VR Headsets Are Not as Secure as You Think, Study Warns

(Image Credit Google)
(Image credit- BBC) As augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are envisioned as the next stage in the development of the internet, enveloping us in new digital worlds, the headset hardware and virtual keyboard interfaces that go along with them open up novel opportunities for hackers. In two papers that will be presented this week at the annual Usenix Security Symposium in Anaheim, a prestigious worldwide conference on cyber security, computer scientists at the University of California, Riverside discuss their results in this regard. The rapidly developing metaverse technology relies on headsets that interpret our bodily motions reaches, nods, steps, and blinks to navigate new worlds of AR and VR to play games, socialize, meet coworkers, and possibly shop or conduct other types of business. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and other tech giants are currently working on this technology intensely. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="4172"]Virtual reality has some very real health dangers | CNN Image credit- CNN[/caption]

How AI Translates Movements in VR Headsets

However, a computer science team at UCR's Bourns College of Engineering led by professors Jiasi Chen and Nael Abu-Ghazaleh has shown that spyware is capable of watching and recording our every move and then using artificial intelligence to translate those movements into words with 90% or better accuracy. The two papers that Abu-Ghazaleh and Chen will present at the cybersecurity conference were written jointly with Yicheng Zhang, a Ph.D. student in computer science at UCR, and Carter Slocum, a visiting assistant professor at Harvey Mudd College who received his doctorate at UCR. The title of the first paper is "It's all in your head(set): Side-channel Attacks on AR/VR Systems." It describes how hackers may accurately reconstruct a victim's hand gestures, voice commands, and keystrokes on a virtual keyboard, with Zhang serving as the principal author. In addition, the paper demonstrates how spies can recognize applications as they are launched and perceive nearby persons with a distance accuracy of roughly 4 inches (10.3 cm). [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Long-term effects of virtual reality use need more research, say scientists | Virtual reality | The Guardian Image credit- The Guardian[/caption]

More Details

In the second study, "Going through the motions: AR/VR keylogging from user head motions," the security issue associated with making use of a virtual keyboard is explored in more detail. Also, it demonstrates how minute head movements produced by people using virtual keyboards may be used by spies to deduce the text that is being typed, with Slocum serving as the primary author. The researchers then created a program called TyPose that extracts these head motion data and uses machine learning to determine the words or characters a user is typing. Both papers are anticipated to alert the tech sector to gaps in their cyber security. Abu-Ghazaleh stated that"We demonstrate the feasibilities of attacks, and then we do responsible disclosure." He added "We tell the companies that, hey, this is what we were able to do. And then we give them time to see if they want to fix it before we publish our findings." Also read: Enhanced Meta VR Headset: Assessing Brain Activity and Analyzing Behavioral Responses

By Monica Green

I am specialised in latest tech and tech discoveries.

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