Your New Friend Alexa May Have an Issue with Boundaries
Make sure to check your Amazon Echo to find out whether your helpful virtual assistant Alexa is not spying on you. There is no doubt that the dulcet tones of Alexa on the Amazon Echo can be a massive help around the home or office. Popular with millions of people around the world, Alexa is always ready to respond when you call, but recently researchers from a cybersecurity company have created a ‘hack’ that may allow Alexa to be a little too proactive.
Always Listening – That’s the Problem
Alexa is designed to stay in sleep mode, until voice-activated with the command, “Alexa!”. Cybersecurity experts, however, have designed a simple program that forces Alexa to remain always-activated, record conversations and then send those recordings to a third party. The malicious program was camouflaged as an app calculator that is activated when a user opens the app, or tells Alexa to open the calculator app. Once activated, Alexa is always listening, even when you think your Echo is off.
Hacking into Alexa
The device’s inbuilt security protocols should force the program to terminate the session once complete, or to request permission to continue the session. But the hack was able to bypass the protocols and force Alexa to continuously listen and record voices.
How to Protect Your Systems
This specific program was created purely to test the system’s security and was immediately reported to Amazon, which has since fixed the vulnerability. However, it is a sobering reminder of the potential dangers of such a system. What can you do to protect yourself from your Alexa? Just like any other online systems, computers and mobile phones, it’s important to check regularly for malware, unknown applications and small files that you know you did not install. Also, take a look at the little blue light every now and again. It indicates the Amazon Echo is activated. When you’re not using it, it should be off. If it isn’t there might be a problem.
Your Technology Needs to be More Radical than Your Cyber-Attacker’s
There is no doubt that the world has become completely digitized. Virtually every facet of our lives is impacted by internet technology, from social media, digitized data, artificial intelligence, smart homes—you name it, the internet dominates the world.
Digital is great but the Risks of Data Breaches Have Multiplied
Digital data has revolutionized the way business is conducted today. The benefits are enormous. And so are the risks. While digital platform developers are working diligently to improve the world for consumers, hackers are working diligently to steal crucial business data for personal gain. A mere glance at the news reveals that every business sector has been impacted by cyber crime. Not only are the economic disruptions staggering, but the risk of personal financial harm is significant. Recently, for instance, it was reported that FedEx became victim to a cyber attack, resulting in a significant impact on its worldwide operations. Protecting the cyber borders of data is more important than ever.
Cyber Criminals are Patient
Cyber criminals are primarily interested in extracting data from company servers, with the aim of disrupting operations. This requires companies to rethink their cyber security strategies, to focus instead on the “cyber supply chain.” Hackers have become very adept at sneaking into the system and slowly stealing data for months before they are detected. Cyber security professionals, therefore, need to focus their attention on both inbound and outbound traffic.
Organizations are not Paying Enough Attention to the Risks
In spite of the vulnerabilities and increased incidents of breaches, response and recovery of data continue to be the weak link in corporations today. Organizations should conduct cyber security emergency drills, similar to the national emergency drills conducted by the government in order to remain alert and abreast of the newest cyber terrorist strategies. Artificial intelligence is assuredly the next frontier, but the success of any cyber security strategy relies on vigilant and skilled people. A strong cyber defense system requires a team effort, constant attention, and a continuous assessment of and response to threats coming from all sources.