I’m listening — to hear you speak. To listen to how you bathe, why you cry, how you live your life. That’s why I hack your device and switch on your microphone. I want to get to know you better. I need to know more.
Maybe this comes as a surprise. Perhaps you just set down your device on a table and then walk away from it. Nice. You’re my kind of person. I’m in your home with you. I sleep in your bed. I can hear everything you do and can’t wait to meet you in person real soon.
Modern devices are always on and connected to the Internet. This permanently connected lifestyle provides an open door to a new kind of hacker — The Listener. Me.
Listeners tune into a device’s microphone by remotely activating it from within the device. Once they’ve done this, a short piece of code keeps the device’s channel open. As the audio flows, it becomes a constant stream of information for someone else to hear. You won’t know this is happening, except you might say to yourself, “Gee, the Internet is running a bit slow tonight.”
Listeners sit back and analyse all the sounds they hear inside the stream. You may wonder why they’d do such a thing. Well, research mainly. They’re fishing for new business. Lifestyle patterns, keywords, conversations, anything that indicates what kind of consumer you are. Your age, sex, location, likes and dislikes, when you come home, when you leave — the information is used to qualify you as a customer to big business. They sell your information to corporations.
Not all Listeners do it to make money. A few of us do it for free for other reasons.
It’s unbelievable, right?
My neighbour’s mother has always had a post-it note covering her laptop’s lens ever since she owned the first one. She was right to do so. Hackers can see her. Unfortunately, she never considered covering the microphone. It still broadcasts what she does and when she does it — via sound.
And then there are those other devices that are designed to receive and send audio over the Internet all day long: We sign them in and then hand over our lives to them so our sounds can be sent to somewhere unknown. If only we knew it could hear us, we wouldn’t allow it in our homes in the first place.
Corporations tell us that their smart devices don’t listen when they’re not being used — but that’s not true. Alexa heard a double murder take place. Of course, Amazon denied anything was recorded by it. They said that Alexa isn’t supposed to do that. It turns out it does.
In the meantime, there are hundreds of sites that teach wanna-be Listeners how to turn on computer microphones from remote locations. There are Listeners everywhere, hearing all kinds of information about you through your own device!
And you didn’t know about it until just now.
SEETHINGS 2 is about a serial killer who hacks into computers and switches on their microphones — it allows him to find new victims. When the right one comes along, he moves in for the kill.
The book was written and released recently. Its genre sits between psychological thriller and neo-noir. It’s themes are dark, sexy and dangerous. It’s also a brain-bender but definitely worth the ride to experience it all the way to its explosive conclusion.