Maybe Microwaves can be hacked but turn them into cameras? Nah

In her recent interview with Bergen Record columnist Mike Kelly, the Counselor to the President for Donald Trump Kellyanne Elizabeth Conway stated that there was an article talking about how we can all be spied upon by “microwaves that turn into cameras.” She went on to explain that it is “just a fact of modern life.”

Kellyanne claimed she read the revelation in an article, but by “article” she perhaps meant the latest Wikileaks Vault7 documents about CIA allegedly hacking everything that came their way or this MIT report on “Microwave Camera: Seeing Through Walls and Recording Microwaves in Flight” or she misunderstood microwave oven for microphones. In all possible scenarios, it may be possible to physically hack a microwave but turning them into a surveillance camera is out of the question since a camera consists of an image sensor and lens while a microwave has neither of them.

However, it is a fact that Internet-connected devices (IoT) including webcams, CCTV cameras or even baby monitors can be compromised and used for surveillance purposes. Also, Internet-connected cars can be compromised to cause deadly accidents. In 2015, hackers demonstrated hacking of Samsung’s smart fridge resulting in stealing of login credentials however it remained limited to stealing the login credentials rather than miraculously installing a camera and spying on users.

It must be noted that in 2013, Nathan Broadbent, an electrical engineer hacked his microwave to sense what was about to be cooked in it (and program the oven settings accordingly), and to communicate with the user via voice and a tablet computer. Yet, the microwave remained a microwave, not a spying camera.

It is still unclear which article Kellyanne was talking about, so users are advised not to panic over her statement.

Editor’s note: 

If you are familiar with a case involving any such device being hacked for surveillance purposes we would love to hear from you and update the article accordingly.

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