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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Printer Sounds Revealing the Words Printed

German Heise writes (my translation):

Combining automatic speech recognition and machine learning, Michael Backes – professor for cryptography and information security of Saarland university – and his research team were able to reconstruct nearly three quarters of texts printed with a needle printer by the printing sounds it made. To do so, the researchers originally printed a dictionary, recording the printing sounds and associating words with their characteristic sound in a database. The resulting program then aimed to analyze further sound recordings, filtering through the noise to automatically recognize the words. 70% of the printed health records and bank account statements were successfully filtered – including PINs of bank accounts.

Heise goes on to report how the researches posed as patients, and – equipped with microphones – were able to spy & crack certain prescriptions printed in a doctor’s office. You can find out more about this project (in English) at the University’s homepage.

Just last year, Backes and his team were able to show that it’s possible to see what’s on your monitor by looking at the monitor’s reflection on things like a tea pot, coffee mug, or your glasses – from 10 meters away, using a special telescope.

[Via Rainer.]


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