It seems that the privacy of users has become common and violated all the time, and the latest privacy violations were in video conferencing applications, and it seems that mute or muting the sound may not work as you think and does not mean that your voice will not be heard by anyone, it is exactly the opposite where the mic works and can Hear what you have to say with the app itself.
Mute is not what you think
Most of us use the Mute button to mute the surrounding sound while making video calls with others, but it seems that everything we believe is correct, as a new study indicated that pressing the mute button in popular video conferencing applications such as Zoom, Google Mate, Slack, Skype and others may not work in Reality is as you think and these apps continue to listen to what you have to say in flagrant violation of privacy.
According to the study, users and I first believe that the Mute button when activated cuts the audio permanently, but pressing Mute does not mute the audio or prevent the transmission of audio to the application servers. That is, the application continues to capture your voice and transmits it to the servers, but does not send it to the other party.
How does the mute system work?
We have to understand how the mute or mute system works so that we are aware of everything. At first, for video conferencing applications to work, you need to get permissions to access the microphone but at the same time they can listen to what you say when the Mute button is active and the reason is not known and may do so in order to collect data, improve the service and to notify the user that the audio is muted.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Loyola University at Chicago conducted a comprehensive binary analysis of the uptime of a given number of video calling apps to determine what kind of data each app collects and whether that data poses a privacy risk.
The apps tested in the study were Zoom, Slack, Skype, Google Mate, Discord, Cisco, WebEx, Blue Jeans, Werbie, GoGoMeeting, and JitsiMate. Click on the "Mute" button.
The researchers found that if the mute button is activated, all apps collect audio data from time to time except for people who use the service through a web browser. In all cases, the apps sample audio intermittently for various or unclear reasons.
As for the famous Zoom video calling application, the most widely used in the world, it was found that it listens to what the user says even when the mute button is turned on, but the worst was the Cisco WebEx program, which continued to transmit sounds from the user’s microphone to its servers despite the activation of the mute button, in the same way that It works out when the mute button is not activated.
Serious security problem?
Even if we accept that these apps collect limited, random audio data when the audio is muted, the researchers note that this data can be used to decode what the user is doing 82% of the time via a simple machine learning algorithm.
Even if video conferencing applications secure their servers, encrypt data transmissions, and are committed to protecting that audio data, any external attack could leak those audio files and only us would be the victim.
Also, keep in mind that video calling applications are not limited to us, but are used by important personalities such as company managers, politicians, and employees of sensitive positions in the country, so if this data is leaked, it will be disastrous for everyone.
How to protect yourself and your privacy
Of course we press the Agree button on any policy without reading how these programs deal with our data. However, there are some steps that you need to take in order to protect privacy such as:
If the microphone is connected to your computer via a USB cable or jack, you need to disconnect it even after pressing the mute button.
You can use your operating system's audio control settings to mute the microphone input channel in order to prevent apps from getting any sound.