That’s Miss Jackson, if You’re Crashy

Leave it to a mega star like Janet Jackson to create a cyber security situation back in the mid-2000s. The pop singer of yesteryear released a song called Rhythm Nation which happened to emit some frequencies that would legit crash a nearby computer. Rob Thubron at Techspot has more of this odd tale.

Jackson's track would crash certain models of laptops when it was played within proximity of the device.

It was discovered that the effect could be replicated on other laptops from multiple manufacturers, all of which shared a common feature; the same 5,400 RPM hard disk drive was found in the machines, which were popular sometime around 2005, or 16 years after Rhythm Nation just missed out on topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


What is fascinating to me about this situation is that people from Microsoft figured this out. Someone who worked at Microsoft wrote about this on their dev blog. Windows XP product support told him about this and they were able to recreate the scenario. Yes, Janet Jackson was really crashing computers with her one song that happened to emit that exact frequency a drive was susceptible to.

Once a known issue, manufacturers were able to resolve the issue by filtering out that frequency when audio was played back. But still, this is a logged and known security issue and one could only imagine a random person somewhere running into this problem. All they did was want to listen to some music.