Cortana vulnerability allows hackers to bypass Windows 10 passwords to install malware

Researches show that voice assist is a security risk


Security researchers have discovered a flaw with Microsoft's Cortana voice assistant that could enable hackers to bypass the login screen in Windows 10 and infect a system with malware.

The Israeli researchers, Tal Be'ery and Amichai Shulman, found the vulnerability after finding out that Cortana is always on and responds to voice commands, even when a machine is locked.

Advertisement - Article continues below

According to reports by Motherboard, a hacker could plug in a USB stick with a network adapter into the computer, then tell Cortana to launch the computer's browser and go to an unencrypted URL (non-HTTP). This adaptor the intercepts this session to send the browser to a malicious website, downloading malware and infecting the system.

"We start with proximity because it gives us the initial foothold in [a] network. We can attach the computer to a network we control, and we use voice to force the locked machine into interacting in an insecure manner with our network," Shulman told the publication.

Hackers could also connect a targeted computer to a Wi-Fi network they control by simply clicking on a selected network with a mouse, even when the computer is locked.

"One of the things we saw was that even when a machine is locked, you can choose the network to which that machine is attached," said Shulman.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"We still have this bad habit of introducing new interfaces into machines without fully analyzing the security implications of it," said Be'ery. "Every new machine interface that we introduce creates new types of vehicles to carry an attack vector into your computer."

The researchers will present the findings in a presentation at the Kaspersky Analyst Security Summit in Cancun this week.

Featured Resources

Top 5 challenges of migrating applications to the cloud

Explore how VMware Cloud on AWS helps to address common cloud migration challenges

Download now

3 reasons why now is the time to rethink your network

Changing requirements call for new solutions

Download now

All-flash buyer’s guide

Tips for evaluating Solid-State Arrays

Download now

Enabling enterprise machine and deep learning with intelligent storage

The power of AI can only be realised through efficient and performant delivery of data

Download now


cyber security

Report: 16.5 million Britons fell victim to cyber crime in the past year

1 Apr 2020
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS launches Amazon Detective for investigating security incidents

1 Apr 2020

UK government to launch coronavirus 'contact tracking' app

1 Apr 2020
video conferencing

Zoom admits meetings don't use end-to-end encryption

1 Apr 2020

Most Popular

cyber crime

FBI warns of ‘Zoom-bombing’ hackers amid coronavirus usage spike

31 Mar 2020
data breaches

Marriott data breach exposes personal data of 5.2 million guests

31 Mar 2020
application programming interface (API)

Apple buys Dark Sky weather app and leaves Android users in the cold

1 Apr 2020
data management

Oracle cloud courses are free during coronavirus lockdown

31 Mar 2020