Woburn, MA – June 22, 2017 – Kaspersky Lab has patented a method to counteract unauthorized access to microphone data on Windows devices to help protect consumers from the threat of audio surveillance. The method is used in the company’s flagship home solutions, Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Total Security, which are the only security solutions currently on the market that offer integrated technologies to protect microphones from malicious access.
To control access to consumer audio data, it is necessary to monitor all requests to the microphone in the operating system and block those where access is unauthorized or conducted by an untrusted program. If consumers simply switch the microphone off or cover it with tape, it may still be possible for intruders to record sounds from around the device via loudspeakers or other methods. There is currently no default protection from unauthorized access to user audio data in the Windows OS.
Kaspersky Lab’s new patented technology filters internal commands sent to, or received by, the Windows Audio service and indicates the creation of each new audio stream by any application. After this, the technology uses Kaspersky Lab’s Application Control feature, which categorizes all programs as “trusted,” “low/high restricted” or “untrusted,” depending on their reputation, content and manufacturer. If it recognizes that an “untrusted” or “low/high restricted” program is trying to access the microphone, the request is immediately blocked.
“Consumer privacy is very important to us, which is why we are developing technologies to keep our customers’ digital lives safe from malicious access,” said Alexander Kalinin, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. “When it comes to audio protection, the main challenge was the existence of an audio stream multiplexing system within Windows, which allowed several applications to record sound simultaneously. However, this problem was resolved easily with the help of our rich kernel-driver infrastructure, which includes a mechanism to control commands between Windows services.”
Audio protection is part of the Privacy Protection features included in the Kaspersky Lab home security solutions. This set also contains Webcam Protection, which notifies users about access to their integrated or connected webcam, and the Private Browsing feature, which blocks any attempts to collect data on users via a web browser. Both features are available for Macs and PCs.
Kaspersky Lab currently has over 580 patents registered in US, Russia, the EU and China. Read more about patent US9652625 here.