Janet Jackson Song Caused Laptop Crashes

Janet Jackson Song Caused Laptop Crashes
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A somewhat funny but definitely bad news story came out last month that involved a popular song from the late 1980s. Raymond Chen, who has worked at Microsoft for a quarter-century, keeps a blog on their website called "The Old New Thing."

In a post dated August 16th, 2022, Chen recalled a story a colleague had told him about how one of the world's largest computer manufacturers had found out by accident that by playing Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" music video, several of their laptops would crash.

Then, they found out it affected their competitors as well. Even laptops nearby seemed to crash, even without any audio playing.

The issue had to do with the 5400 RPM hard drives the laptops had been using at the time. The audio signal from the music video would issue the same natural resonant frequency as the hard drives, causing a "resonant-frequency attack," "to cause a denial of service (device malfunction and system crash,) according to Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) report.

A YouTuber by the name of Dave's Garage actually recreated part of the error by putting a similar hard drive on top of his subwoofer while playing the song.

Fortunately, the hard drive affected has long since been phased out. Additionally, most laptops use solid-state drives as opposed to spinning drives.