The attack model was brought to light by a group of researchers, who based their findings on the science of ultrasound cross-device tracking (uXDT), a new technology that started being deployed in modern-day advertising platforms around 2014.
uXDT relies on advertisers hiding ultrasounds in their ads. When the ad plays on a TV or radio, or some ad code runs on a mobile or computer, it emits ultrasounds that get picked up by the microphone of nearby laptops, desktops, tablets or smartphones.
These second-stage devices, who silently listen in the background, will interpret these ultrasounds, which contain hidden instructions, telling them to ping back to the advertiser’s server with details about that device.
Advertisers use uXDT in order to link different devices to the same person and create better advertising profiles so to deliver better-targeted ads in the future.