Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

Posted on
Thu May 24, 2018 3:42 pm
RogueProeliator offline
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Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

Well, this is a tad disturbing... and definitely validates those that have voiced their opinion against having an always-listening device in the home...

https://androidandme.com/2018/05/news/amazon-alexa-recorded-a-private-conversation-and-sent-it-to-a-contact/

I'm assuming this was a non-widespread bug, and it is specific to Alexa, but that isn't to say that it couldn't happen to any of them (Google, Apple, etc.)

Adam

Posted on
Thu May 24, 2018 5:06 pm
jay (support) offline
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Re: Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

CNET has comments from Amazon. While I agree with the general sentiment that always-listening devices are risky, this particular instance is tickling my "hoax" spidey sense. Specifically, this is apparently what the log from the Echo dot says happened:

"Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like 'Alexa,'" a spokesperson tells CNET. "Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a "send message" request. At which point, Alexa said out loud "To whom?" At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, "[contact name], right?" Alexa then interpreted background conversation as "right". As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely."


I can see the first two things happening - I've personally had Alexa hear something that sounds like "alexa" followed by it trying to do something. But the following 2 spoken announcements followed by misheard but appropriate responses stretches credulity IMO. :roll:

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Posted on
Thu May 24, 2018 5:31 pm
lanbrown offline
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Re: Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

Regardless of the exact actions that it took for this to happen, these type of devices shows how they can be used maliciously. Nothing is immune from bugs and vulnerabilities. What if a hacked Alexa (or one of the others) is placed in an environment, this just shows how they could be used.

Much like people can root an Android phone, Jailbreak an iPhone, hack an Amazon fire device, etc. I'm sure the Echo line of devices are susceptible as well. Sure bugs can be remediated, but how many unreported ones are currently being utilized?

Posted on
Thu May 24, 2018 5:54 pm
jay (support) offline
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Re: Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

Smart home technology has always been a risk/reward proposition and it always will be (all technology can be used maliciously). I was just pointing out that this specific "report" didn't seem to pass the sniff test.

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Posted on
Thu May 24, 2018 6:14 pm
lanbrown offline
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Re: Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

I agree, it seems far fetched that it could have occurred as described. Then again, if we heard the conversation it might have made sense.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8PX8LeImdU

Posted on
Thu May 24, 2018 9:18 pm
RogueProeliator offline
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Re: Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

I can see the first two things happening - I've personally had Alexa hear something that sounds like "alexa" followed by it trying to do something. But the following 2 spoken announcements followed by misheard but appropriate responses stretches credulity IMO.

I don't discount that it could have been faked... but another article I read said that Amazon engineering had reviewed it (presumably the actual audio, though it did not explicitly say that) and said it was indeed a mistake on their part. Still, seems like SOMEONE would have heard her speaking.

Having said that, I have personally witnessed some very strange things by Alexa. In one case while we were visiting in the kitchen at my parent's house, their Alexa randomly started up:

Alexa: "Got it, I found 3 types of pancakes... [listed three, don't remember which]. Which would you like." [Note, there was absolutely NO mention of pancakes in the conversation]
Son: "None"
Alexa: "Okay, would you like to place the order?"
Son: "No"
Alexa: "Your order has been placed."

It was quite funny and my mom was able to cancel her order via the Amazon app. But that is three "mis-hears" right there and two were absolutely spoken correctly. No idea what she first queued on to ask about ordering pancakes.

Posted on
Thu May 24, 2018 9:20 pm
RogueProeliator offline
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Re: Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

Also note, I was just passing that along as I found it amusing, I understand the risk/reward and I still have them in my house. But i wouldn't tie anything too critical like a door lock to them.

Posted on
Thu May 24, 2018 10:08 pm
lanbrown offline
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Re: Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

Some people have the Echo and dots scattered around the house. Imagine someone standing outside, Alexa, unlock the front door. The door unlocks and in they come to rob you.

Posted on
Fri May 25, 2018 10:06 am
Swancoat offline
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Re: Alexa Recording and Sending Conversations

lanbrown wrote:
Some people have the Echo and dots scattered around the house. Imagine someone standing outside, Alexa, unlock the front door. The door unlocks and in they come to rob you.


This would meet the public's definition of 'hacking' lol.

http://nerdhome.jimdo.com

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