September, 2022

Songs has the power to crash a hard drive

The MITRE Corporation, which helps identify and categorize vulnerabilities in software, has recently listed a new issue. The vulnerability, recorded as CVE-2022-38392, points to the music video of Janet Jackson's 1989 classic Rhythm Nation as bringing down a specific model of hard disks. This bug isn't new, but it came into the limelight after Microsoft principal software engineer Raymond Chen told about it in his blog post recently.

Chen recalled a story told to him by a colleague that an unnamed major computer manufacturer discovered Jackson's song crashed their laptops and then some of their competitors' laptops. Chen says the company eventually found out that the song contained one of the natural resonant frequencies for the model of 5400 rpm laptop hard drives that they and other manufacturers used. The manufacturer managed to fix the issue by adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback.

The bug is actually from the days of Windows XP and only seems to affect certain laptops. But security experts warn that the mechanism that causes the HDD crashes is well-known and a real threat. It's HDD resonance - the physical phenomenon that causes sound produced by one object to vibrate at the same frequency as the natural frequency of another object, which results in dangerous outcomes.

Security experts say that while the bug in question is peculiar, it isn't the first, or the only one of its kind. In fact, the impact of hard disks suffering performance penalties in loud environments that cause high vibrations is well documented. There's evidence that hackers have also employed the phenomenon of vibrations leading to crashes to bring down computers deliberately.

And because this problem only affected older Windows XP-era laptops (circa 2005), most computer users don't have to worry about this vulnerability. Still, any storage device can fail due to human error or physical problems with the device that may lead to data loss. If that happens to your hard drive, don't try to fix the issue yourself - seek professional help if you value the lost data - contact ACE Data Recovery. ACE Data Recovery engineers can retrieve any data even from HDD that other data recovery companies consider "unrecoverable".