Voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa, are found to be easy to hack due to huge design flaws in modern devices researchers have found. The researchers managed to gain access to seven different voice recognition systems on a wide range of gadgets, including iPhones, Samsung Galaxy handsets and Windows 10 computers, using equipment which cost them less than $3. So far, 16 different devices have been found to be vulnerable, but the researchers have said their list is ‘by far not comprehensive’.
The team, from Zhejiang University found that the voice assistants can be triggered by voice commands that are inaudible to humans. Though an attacker would have to be in close proximity with the target device, they could take over without actually touching the device. Using an ultrasonic transducer and an amplifier to convert normal voice commands into ultrasounds that are impossible for humans to hear. By doing this, they were not only able to activate voice assistants, but also able to make them do things.
This could be dangerous to the phone user as the hacker could force a device to open a malicious website or spy on their owner by launching a video or phone call. It could also be used to spread false emails and text messages by using this method of hacking. To protect yourself from such an attack you can switch off the always-on setting on Siri or press the mute button on Echo.