Friday, May 26, 2017

Is Google Home Just a Little Too Close To Home?

Today's hottest tech items are listening devices such as "Google Home" and "Amazon Echo". These  are WiFi/Internet connected and can respond to voice commands and answer them with built in speakers.  For example, if you wanted to know who wrote the Wizard of Oz, and you have an active Google Home device, you would simple say "OK Google" followed by the command "who wrote the "The Wizard of Oz"?  Then it would search the Internet and respond with the answer.

Here's the problem.  These devices respond to anyone's voice.  A fact that resulted in two major problems this year.

The first was during the airing of the Super Bowl.  Google Home ran a 60 second commercial, and the words "OK Google" were repeated over and over again.  As result, any Google Home devices that were within earshot of the commercial literally went nuts trying to comply with multiple commands in such a short period of time.

The second disaster was caused by Burger King, who apparently saw this TV to Google Home relationship as positive.  In a 15 second TV Commercial, the spokesperson leans into the camera and  says "OK Google, What is the Whopper burger".  Immediately every Google Home device within earshot  responded by listing the ingredients of the Whopper from Wikipedia. Here's the commercial and Google Home's response:

I don't know how many Google Home devices were affected by this, but it demonstrates a real problem.  If you have WiFi connected devices/appliances in your home that are compatible with Google Home commands, they can be controlled by anyone's voice.  Those items could include your security system or your garage door opener.

Now, think about that. If someone knows you have Google Home and knows that you have an answering machine within earshot of it, that person could potentially open your garage door or shutdown your security system by simply calling your home.  And, what if your Google Home is hacked and your every conversation is being recorded by an external listener?  After all, Google Home is connected to your network.  A simple phishing attachment to an email that you opened could tell a hacker all the devices that are connected to your WiFi including Google Home, your refrigerator, your security system, or garage door opener.  Google Home is also capable of remotely starting your car or opening its doors; if so connected.

Obviously people should reconsider the convenience of Google Home and the devices that they hook into it.


Google's Home TV ad makes Google Home systems go crazy:

Alexa and Google Home Record What You Say. But What Happens to That Data?:

Why your next Echo command should be: ‘Disconnect me from the internet’:

Google Says No Whopper For YOU! Shuts Down Burger King’s Google Home Hack:

Keeping Your Home Safe With Google Home:

​How to keep your smart TV from spying on you | ZDNet:

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