You’ve probably heard about the ‘friends’ who, late at night yell “Alexa, play Slayer at full volume!” through a neighbour’s letterbox. It’s an amusing story, it’s got the ring of authenticity because as a security breach, it’s not only plausible, it’s entirely possible. As a prank it’s annoying, but harmless But what it does highlight is one of voice control’s most obvious and easily exploited vulnerabilities: if you don’t train Alexa or Google Assistant to respond to your voice alone, anybody within earshot can make them do things.
For more than two years Google and Amazon have also been aware of another possible chink in the armour that surrounds voice responsive technology, that it’s so sensitive and works on frequencies beyond human hearing, meaning that commands loud and clear enough to get Smart Speakers and Home Hubs to do anything can be broadcast without the owner ever being aware. Read more