About the SPQR Lab

The SPQR Lab is part of Northeastern University with laboratory space at the EXP Building in Boston, Massachusetts. With a 13-campus system spanning London, Canada, and USA, Northeastern has a global vision to improve cybersecurity of health care delivery and cyberphysical systems. With students from the Khoury College of Computer Sciences and the College of Engineering departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Bioengineering, we work broadly on research problems pertaining to embedded security, cyberphysical system security, and medical device security. We explore the research frontiers of computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and health care. Our latest embedded security projects examine how to protect analog sensors from intentional electromagnetic, acoustic interference, and light injection.

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Recent Projects

Light Commands Figure

Light Commands

Light Commands is a vulnerability of MEMS microphones that allows attackers to remotely inject inaudible and invisible commands into voice assistants, such as Google assistant, Amazon Alexa, Facebook Portal, and Apple Siri using light. In our paper we demonstrate this effect, successfully using light to inject malicious commands into several voice controlled devices such as smart speakers, tablets, and phones across large distances and through glass windows.

Poltergeist Figure

Side Eye: Extract Sound from Muted Videos

Side Eye is a technique that allows adversaries to extract acoustic information from a stream of camera photos. When sound energy vibrates the smartphone body, it shakes camera lenses and creates tiny Point-of-View (POV) variations in the camera images. Adversaries can thus infer the sound information by analyzing the image POV variations. Side Eye enables a family of sensor-based side channel attacks targeting acoustic eavesdropping even when smartphone microphone is disabled.

Poltergeist Figure

Poltergeist: Manipulating Computer Vision Systems with Acoustics and Motion

As cameras become increasingly pervasive, the security and privacy of computer vision systems is a focus of SPQR's research. Our work explores how different physical processes such as acoustics and motion are captured and interpreted by cameras, and how malicious parties may exploit these effects to intentionally adulterate vision systems’ output or exfiltrate sensitive information from it. Our recent research shows acoustic injections into cameras may cause accidents to autonomous vehicles.

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