Tubes Among Us: Analog Attack on Automatic Speaker Identification


Shimaa Ahmed and Yash Wani, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Ali Shahin Shamsabadi, Alan Turing Institute; Mohammad Yaghini, University of Toronto and Vector Institute; Ilia Shumailov, Vector Institute and University of Oxford; Nicolas Papernot, University of Toronto and Vector Institute; Kassem Fawaz, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Recent years have seen a surge in the popularity of acoustics-enabled personal devices powered by machine learning. Yet, machine learning has proven to be vulnerable to adversarial examples. A large number of modern systems protect themselves against such attacks by targeting artificiality, i.e., they deploy mechanisms to detect the lack of human involvement in generating the adversarial examples. However, these defenses implicitly assume that humans are incapable of producing meaningful and targeted adversarial examples. In this paper, we show that this base assumption is wrong. In particular, we demonstrate that for tasks like speaker identification, a human is capable of producing analog adversarial examples directly with little cost and supervision: by simply speaking through a tube, an adversary reliably impersonates other speakers in eyes of ML models for speaker identification. Our findings extend to a range of other acoustic-biometric tasks such as liveness detection, bringing into question their use in security-critical settings in real life, such as phone banking.

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {287334,
author = {Shimaa Ahmed and Yash Wani and Ali Shahin Shamsabadi and Mohammad Yaghini and Ilia Shumailov and Nicolas Papernot and Kassem Fawaz},
title = {Tubes Among Us: Analog Attack on Automatic Speaker Identification},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {265--282},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

Presentation Video