The Battle Has Begun! It’s You vs. Alexa’s Eavesdropping Skills!
By Aditi Bhat
How often do you have those heated debates about Man vs. Machine with your friends? If you are undergoing data science training, you may be debating on personal data and privacy with your friends all the time. So far the year is turning out to be a revelation about how your personal data is being used against you, by companies you deeply trusted. The privacy rules need a reform to meet the developing technological capabilities.
That being said, IoT products like Amazon Alexa sure give a fancy and useful addition to our lifestyle, but to what extent can these near to perfect intelligent devices be trusted? To validate this statement, you can find plenty of videos of Alexa goofing up on the internet. In fact, Amazon Alexa recently put the idiom ‘walls have ears’ to the test.
Your new eavesdropping neighbor?
The incident took place in Oregon, where Alexa recorded a couple’s conversation and sent it to one of their friends without notifying the couple. They were later alerted by the friend to turn off the device as he thought it was being hacked.
This incident draws attention to the fact that your privacy is susceptible to the slightest of technical snags. And that it’s not limited to misinterpreting voice commands. It involves the fundamental right of every human – privacy.
Another story that made it to the headlines was when Amazon Echo installed for television viewers ordered dollhouses by itself. The error was reported by multiple owners. But what prompted it to do so? It may have responded to a dialogue made on TV! Unbelievable, right?
However, Amazon claims that it’s close to impossible for such incidents to take place as it requires multiple commands by the user to get to the point of sale or share.
Alexa has accurate voice capabilities. It easily takes voice commands for playing music, operating IoT home devices, and even ordering online from Amazon. The company currently records the user’s voice and stores it on Amazon servers.
Amazon Alexa, since its release, has made its place in the common man’s house in the United States. The risk lies with its enormous stored data, so the company and its engineers must draw boundaries between the data that can be used and the data that should remain private. People will say Aloha to Alexa, if it can tackle these data security concerns.
Big data, bigger responsibilities
That being said, if you’re looking to make it in the world of big data analytics by coming up with a revolutionary Internet of Things product, you must understand the ethical aspects associated with the same. AI is letting machines understand humans like never before, but there is also the need to draw some boundaries.
Recently, a security firm named Checkmarx tried to hack Alexa and turn it into a spying device. The team was able to achieve the goal without hacking. They used the features that were given to developers to turn Alexa into a 24/7 eavesdropping device. What does it mean? A mic in your house connected to the internet is putting you at great risk of leaking your personal information.
The lesson? If you’re pursuing a big data analytics certification, make sure that you have a backup plan for such security concerns!
What’s in store for the future?
Amazon recently filed a patent featuring voice sniffing technology. The technology may let Alexa devices eavesdrop on your private conversations and use them in personalized marketing strategies. For the good or bad? Only time will tell!
What’s your take on the recent Alexa eavesdropping incident? Tell us in the comments section below.