Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

Alexa . . . Stop Sending My Home Creepy Inaudible Messages!

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As the saying goes, sometimes it’s not what you hear but what you don’t hear that matters most.  Researchers at UC Berkeley might have uncovered the ultimate example of that statement by proving that Alexa, Google and Siri have the ability to hear and act on inaudible commands being sent through their AI driven smartspeakers.  Yes, you read that correctly.  As long as your smartspeaker is on and connected to the internet it can transmit commands which humans can’t hear, but your AI-enabled digital assistant can.

Why is this a big deal?  Think about giving Siri instructions to manipulate other connected IoT devices in your home – like say your smart doorbell.  What if a tech savvy thief could send a signal to Siri to unlock the front door via your Echo speaker?  Or maybe something a little less menacing, like commanding Alexa to add a product to your shopping list which you inadvertently buy?  That would definitely be a way to drive incremental sales, right?

Amazon, Google, and Apple have implemented unauthorized command safeguards for the smartspeakers themselves, but the filter doesn’t work for the AI systems which run on these speakers.  Now that the cat is out of the bag with this loophole I’m guessing their respective engineering teams are scrambling to come up with a fix.

 

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