on the technical side 06-01-2018
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ADCC / NKC Systems Inc.

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on the technical side 06-01-2018

“Alexa, listen to what I am saying about my boss. Record it and send that recording to my boss.” 

Do you know Alexa? Alexa is the smart speaker from Amazon. It is designed to make our lives easier but did you ever consider that it might make things easier for someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart?

Would you ever want to have a private conversation about someone sent to that person? A similar event happened recently. A Seattle couple discussed hardwood floors in the “privacy” of their home. Later, they received a phone call to notify them that they had been hacked. A recording of their conversation was sent to someone in their address book.

The couple panicked and contacted Amazon to report the incident and determine what happened. The Amazon staff determined that Alexa mistakenly heard “Alexa” and interpreted a voice command to record a conversation and mail it to someone in the address book. Does this give you any reason of concern?

The couple was very modern thinking and had Alexa installed throughout their house. Can you imagine how they must have felt? Alexa was listening to EVERY noise in their home. Is there anything in your home that you would like kept private?

Every day, we are closer to “1984”. Not really the year, 1984 was a few years ago but we getting closer to the society defined in the book “1984”. Computers are wonderful devices but we need to consider all possibilities with new technology.

Did you know that ANY cell phone call could be recovered by court order? The old rules on phone calls are obsolete. It used to be that if law enforcement suspected criminal activity, a court order could be obtained to listen to phone calls. Law enforcement could start to listen after the court order was received. Digital communications allow telecom companies to easily record conversations and those recordings are available as long as the phone service retains them.

The Alexa issue is even more serious. That little box listens to EVERYTHING said in the privacy of your home. Are Alexa sessions recorded? What happens to all the conversations recorded by Alexa? Will anyone be allowed to listen to those recordings? If the data is there, someone will be able to listen.

A funny story about a couple that was recorded in their home talking about hardwood floors doesn’t sound like big news but it raises very serious concerns. The fact that someone in the couple’s address book received a recording of that conversation should raise your awareness even more. This was a wakeup call. Beware of that little box. It’s listening to everything.



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