Research has disclosed a range of vulnerability issues which affect Google assistant and Google smart speakers and could allow hackers to eavesdrop.
Google smart speakers offer simple access to information through voice commands. As the functionality of smart speakers grows so does their flaws to exploit grows too. Two possible hacking scenarios that apply to Google assistant and Google Home speakers have recently been discovered. The flaws allow third-party access to sensitive information and eavesdrop on users; this clearly violates their terms of privacy policies. This personal security vulnerability may put its users at risk.
Voice assistants are available on Android and IOS Smartphones and on other gadgets which clearly dominate the world of gadgets these days and they all function the same way. This technology allows electronic devices to be controlled hands-free, by simply using voice recognition commands like “Hey Siri”,” Alexa” and “ok Google” to get started.
As helpful and accessible as they all may seem, they also pose a real danger to security and to the safety of their users which makes them feel their privacy agreement is being breached. In other words some users feel they are being spied on by the manufacturers of these devices.
One instance is when Google assistant picked up a conversation between some friends and me, while at the gym. As soon as the device heard my voice say “go and ask google” the music player stopped and it started recording our conversations while waiting to pick up a command.
In some cases, background noise and private conversations between people may trigger the voice assistant as well. Entering a secure room in order to discuss certain business ideas may no longer be safe, as long as there is a smart device present in the room.
According to research, it is best to sign out of your google accounts when not using the google voice assistant as these recordings are being saved on your google account once you sign in.
Other ways to prevent your devices from recording unnecessarily is by turning them off when not in use. Also try keeping them inside bags or drawers when in the office or during private conversations.
However, Amazon’s “Alexa” and Apple’s “Siri” are said to be free of this vulnerability; except with the use of a laser beam pointer, which, 1 out of 10 times is not quite effective, unlike google assistant whose vulnerability is caused by the device itself.
Additionally, Alexa asks: “what do you want Alexa to do?” and Siri asks: “what do you want Siri to do for you?”, once you prompt them. This feature is absent on google assistant. Google assistant wakes up with “Hey google” and picks up any command it listens to without asking “what do you need google assistant for” like other devices.