Turns out Janet Jackson is the cybersecurity risk we never saw coming

Janet Jackson
(Image credit: YouTube)

If your computer crashes every time it hears Janet Jackson’s 1989 song Rhythm Nation, it’s not because it shares the same musical tastes as you. Instead, it is happening because you’re running an old, 5400 RPM hard drive that simply can’t handle a specific frequency that the video resonates.

Not only would playing the video crash such a device - it would also crash a nearby device that isn’t even playing the video. All it takes is for the frequency to physically reach the affected endpoint to have it crash.

It sounds too odd to be true, but according to a blog fromMicrosoft’s Raymond Chen, “a colleague of mine shared a story from Windows XP product support. A major computer manufacturer discovered that playing the music video for Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” would crash certain models of laptops.”

Unique frequencies

“It turns 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," Chen noted. 

"The manufacturer worked around the problem by adding a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback.”

Even though the flaw might sound trivial, researchers found it relevant enough to list it on the register of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs). 

It's listed as CVE-2022-38392 and, according to The Register, has already been acknowledged by security vendor Tenable.

So in the highly unlikely case that you’re running a computer with an old, sluggish 5400-RPM hard disk drive, make sure to keep it away from anyone who might still enjoy Janet Jackson's music.

Via: The Register

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.