Ghost Talk


Electromagnetic interference (EMI) affects circuits by inducing voltages on conductors. Analog sensing of signals on the order of a few millivolts is particularly sensitive to interference. This project (1) measures the susceptibility of analog sensor systems to signal injection attacks by intentional, low-power emission of chosen electromagnetic waveforms, and (2) proposes defense mechanisms to reduce the risks.

We use specially crafted EMI at varying power and distance to measure susceptibility of sensors in implantable medical devices and consumer electronics. Results show that at distances of 1-2m, consumer electronic devices containing microphones are vulnerable to the injection of bogus audio signals. Our measurements show that in free air, intentional EMI under 10 W can inhibit pacing and induce defibrillation shocks at distances up to 1-2m on implantable cardiac electronic devices. However, with the sensing leads and medical devices immersed in a saline bath to better approximate the human body, the same experiment decreases to about 5 cm.

Group Members


Denis Foo Kune, John Backes, Shane Clark, Dan Kramer, Matthew Reynolds, Kevin Fu, Yongdae Kim, and Wenyuan Xu. Ghost Talk: Mitigating EMI Signal Injection Attacks against Analog Sensors in Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy, 2013