Tags: Cyber Security | Education | Financial Markets | NSA/Surveillance | amazon | google | it

Demand for High Tech Lowers Quality of Life

Demand for High Tech Lowers Quality of Life
(James Copeland/Dreamstime)

Thursday, 14 June 2018 12:57 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Big brother is listening. Actually, big sister, or did I cross a line in assuming the gender of Amazon’s Alexa assistant? Before the accusations of misgendering and the accompanying hate mail starts pouring in, lets examine the facts behind the latest cybersecurity threat involving both Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Voice assistant platforms that the average American now has to contend with.

Researchers from Indiana University, Bloomington, the University of Virginia and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have labeled their recently uncovered vulnerability an incidence of "voice squatting." In addition, there has recently been another kind of related attack discovered called "voice masquerading."

In the course of their research, agents devised methods that worked on both the Google and Amazon platforms, and attacks were executed against the Home Mini and the Echo Dot products.

Via unrelated third-party developer ecosystems that allow malicious coding mimicking "skills," or applications for the gadgets, voice-squatters have managed to create a new, malicious skill that is specifically designed to infiltrate the unaware system when the user says certain words or phrases. The code being designed in real time can also mimic other "malicious skills," and when weaponized, those skills will do sneaky things, like continuing an audio recording when it's supposed to have disconnected.

How else can these methods be weaponized against Americans? It can via the "reprompt" function. That feature allows for a "skill" to continue executing without any intention from the victim, as long as a command is issued to users via any audio or text file. The researchers uncovered this vulnerability by creating a long, silent audio file as a reprompt that would not tip off users to the fact that the mic was still recording. This method was exploited in recording for 102 seconds of user audio on Alexa and 264 seconds on Google Voice Assistant.

Unlike trojans similar to Trojan.Peskyspy that have the ability to record Skype calls, this new discovery of voice squatting and masquerading is exclusive to targeted devices running the Amazon and Google platforms. Options for potential weaponization cover the gamut from jealous lovers, to for-profit hackers, intelligence agencies and other lower lever 4th Amendment violating bureaucrats.

Voice command intuitive artificial intelligence is nothing new. What the future holds for the security of new software and hardware designers in the age of advanced hacking techniques is a constantly evolving equation.

Whether weaponized for military, economic or personally intrusive purposes, everyone from IT professionals to private citizens need to subscribe to additional security protocol in an effort to mitigate potential exposure to the latest unvaccinated infection.

In a world that has devalued the importance of person to person, verbal communications, the market for Artificial Intelligence and Voice Commanded will only continue to grow and by extension, black market profiteers looking to exploit the design cracks and security flaws will continue evolve similarly.

Algorithms and machine learning alone, already dominate a major part of our daily lives, in terms of the products and advertisements peddled through online retailers like Amazon and others and exposes private citizens to the surveillance of our data by intelligence outfits like the National Security Agency (NSA).

The easier we demand our modern lives become, the more susceptible to the pitfalls of the modern cybersphere. Unfortunately, it seems that in due time, we may learn that our safest and most private confines may no longer be the four walls of our homes.

Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer and Editorial Director for Reactionary Times. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax TV and columnist for Newsmax.com since 2016. His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cybersecurity and sports, has also been published by websites including The Hill, The Washington Times, LifeZette, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun and PJ Media and many others. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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The easier we demand our modern lives become, the more susceptible to the pitfalls of the modern cybersphere. Unfortunately, it seems that in due time, we may learn that our safest and most private confines may no longer be the four walls of our homes.
amazon, google, it, platforms, voice
Thursday, 14 June 2018 12:57 PM
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