One of the basic precautionary measures by which a user can protect the contents of their computer is by simply having a lock screen password that’s not written on a sticky note stuck on the right side of the screen.. After a certain period of inactivity, or after logging out, to re access the desktop you need to enter the password.
Independent Israeli researchers Tal Be’ery and Amichai Shulman found a way to bypass the lock screen in Windows 10 using the built-in voice assistant Cortana. As the researchers found, the always-on voice assistant Cortana reacts to some commands, even if the computer is in sleep mode and locked.
According to them, an attacker with physical access to a computer can connect a USB with a network adapter to it, and then give the Cortana voice command to connect to the browser and go to any site not using HTTPS. Since these sites do not encrypt traffic, the network adapter can intercept the session and open a malicious site in the browser, from where malicious software will download to the system without the user’s knowledge.
“We can connect a computer to the network we monitor and use voice commands to make the locked computer interact with our network in an unsafe manner,” the researchers told the Motherboard. An attacker can also connect a computer to a Wi-Fi network under his control, or even enroll it as a slave in a botnet. To do this, just click on the selected network, even if the computer is locked. The problem was that the Cortana helper by default “listened” to commands and opened the browser even in locked mode. Researchers reported their discovery of Microsoft, and the company corrected this vulnerability. But why would microsoft leave their listening program on even when a computer is off or asleep to begin with.