Personal voice assistants are not safe: they can be hacked

Personal voice assistants are not safe: they can be hacked

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Google assistant, Bixby, Siri, Alexa … Personal voice assistants are revolutionizing smartphones, but they have a serious security risk: they are easily hacked.

Because of our smartphones, there are always holes through which you can glue any unscrupulous. Whether small or large: our devices are a small coladero that manufacturers are constantly patching. But how to solve a sound hack that the ear can not hear?

This looks like science fiction is exactly what a group of Chinese scientists found in Zhejiang University . Testing loudspeakers and all personal voice assistants in the market found that they responded to the low frequencies of those who conform the human voice. Put another way: it is possible to control a voice assistant by issuing the commands at a frequency that the owner of the cell phone can not hear . Disturbing.

A cell phone and a speaker are enough to cut a voice assistant

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In addition to the serious that anyone can outrun our voices, it turns out that the system to achieve this is extraordinarily cheap: researchers say its cost is about $ 3 . There are also no complications when developing the tool: a simple cell phone with a connected speaker that is capable of reproducing frequencies below 20 kHz.

The hack consists of emitting low-frequency voice commands: inaudible but effective

Remember mosquito-style apps that should scare these insects by using sounds you can not hear? Well, it's more or less the same, but using word-of-mouth rather than buzzing. Researchers from Zhejiang University even named this type of hack: the DolphinAtack . Attack of the dolphin because they would use ultrasounds while using these cetaceans.

Below is a video of how the hacking system works against Siri, iPhone. They have verified that it works the same way on the rest of well-known personal assistants, such as Google Assistant or Alexa.

Our cell phones capture a wide range of frequencies

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Because they have to pick up and understand our vocals, smartphones equip microphones capable of listening to frequencies below 20 kHz DolphinAtack's main weapon. It is very difficult to repair the problem, since personal assistants need the best range possible, but of course, once discovered, hackers will have to solve the problem.

It may seem that hacking a voice wizard does not involve much risk, but you should think about the amount of services these wizards associate with. Opening the door of the house using the voice is possible, for example; or raise the blinds. Now imagine someone with a speaker ask the assistant outside our house to open the door. Without forcing anything and without realizing: there would only be silence .

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