Researchers have discovered a new way for bad actors to listen to homeowners’ private conversations by hacking into their robot vacuums. Robot vacuums, such as Roombas, use smart sensors to autonomously operate. Attackers hack into the targets vacumes using the LiDAR smart sensors, with researchers thus giving the attacks the name “LidarPhone”. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is the remote sensing method robot vacumes use to sense when they are near to objects. The LiDAR system uses light to detect where objects are with pulsed lasers measuring the distance from objects. This technology is what helps the robot vacuums to move around obstacles while cleaning the floor.
Fortunately, these LidarPhone attacks are actually rather complex. In order to perform such attacks, actors would need to have previously compromised the device itself. They would also have to be on the victim’s local network to launch the attack. This limits the threat of LidaPhone attacks but does not eliminate it all together of course.