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Hackers can crash your hard drive using just sound waves!

Hackers can wreak havoc in many ways. Be it breaking into your network to steal your personal info or taking over your devices so they can launch other attacks. That’s why it’s so important to keep all your gadgets up to date and backed up.

The term “hacker” usually carries a negative connotation, but that’s not always the case. Good “hackers” can help research/solve problems or find security vulnerabilities. Then they can alert the proper people so a patch is made to fix it.

Some researchers have found a way thieves or scammers can cover their tracks.

Acoustic attacks on hard drives

Scientists from Purdue and Princeton universities discovered a way to crash your hard drive. No, why would someone even want to do that? Well, a crook could use it to stop security systems from recording video.

(Image: DVR Recording Failure. Credit:

Or they could use it to disrupt the hard drive logging what’s going on while malware is installed. If they completely crash it, the computer will shut down. Imagine that on a critical computer system at say, a nuclear power plant. Not good.

How does it work?

Sound is nothing but a bunch of vibrations. If you change the frequency of the sound waves, you can increase or decrease the amount of vibrations. Get it going and it’s enough to shake the internal parts of a hard drive.

(Image: Hard Drive Failure Credit:

Strong vibrations could cause internal parts to scratch the disks and ruin the data. So hard drives have safety features built in that prevent damage if it senses vibrations. So when the safety features are active, it’s not writing data, which would allow the hackers/crooks to do whatever they want.

To prevent this from happening, you could get acoustic shielding to surround hard drives on sensitive systems. Many newer computers are coming with solid-state drives that don’t have all the moving parts like a traditional drive has. So that would be another way to thwart an acoustic attack.

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