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Microsoft under fire for eavesdropping as report reveals contractors listen to some Skype calls

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The list of companies that enlist human workers to listen in on your personal conversations just won't quit growing. According to an investigation by Motherboard, Microsoft-owned Skype has been listening to audio of users speaking to one another via its translation service, which uses AI to convert language in nearly real-time. While Skype states that it may analyze audio of phone calls conducted through the service to improve its abilities, it has never explicitly stated that humans would be doing that work. Skype conversations are being recorded and analyzed by Microsoft contractors. The company says it is meant to improve its translation service.

Laser can be used to simulate a human voice and hack into Google Home and other smart devices

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A group of researchers have published results from a shocking experiment that shows how voice controlled smart devices can be operated remotely using targeted laser beams to simulate human speech. The researchers announced Monday that they were able to control a Google Home and command it to remotely open the garage door from a separate building 230 feet away. Also susceptible were Amazon's Echo, Facebook Portal, a range of Android smartphones and tablets, and both iPhones and iPads. The experiments were conducted by a group of scientists from the University of Michigan and The University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo. 'It's possible to make microphones respond to light as if it were sound,' Takeshi Sugarawa, of University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo, told Wired.

Security flaw in Amazon Echo devices could let hackers spy on you

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A group of security researchers have exposed a flaw in the Amazon Echo that allows hackers to secretly listen to unsuspecting users' conversations - but only if they're savvy enough to be able to carry out the attack. In a presentation dubbed'Breaking Smart Speakers: We are Listening to You,' researchers from Chinese tech giant Tencent explained how they were able to build a doctored Echo speaker and use that to gain access to other Echo devices. The researchers have since notified Amazon of the vulnerability, and the company issued a patch in July. Hackers from Tencent's Blade security research team exposed a flaw in Amazon's Echo smart speaker that would allow someone to secretly spy on others and play random sounds'After several months of research, we successfully break the Amazon Echo by using multiple vulnerabilities in the Amazon Echo system, and [achieve] remote eavesdropping,' the researchers said in the presentation, which was given at the DEF CON security conference, according to Wired. 'When the attack [succeeds], we can control Amazon Echo for eavesdropping and send the voice data through network to the attacker.'

Alexa and Google Assistant fall victim to eavesdropping apps


Security researchers developed skills for both Google Home and Amazon Echo devices that could eavesdrop on people. Smart speakers already face privacy concerns, but now security researchers have found that malicious apps designed to eavesdrop can sneak through Google's and Amazon's vetting processes. On Sunday, Security Research Labs disclosed its findings after developing eight voice apps that could listen in on people's conversations through Amazon's Echo and Google's Nest devices. All of the apps passed through the companies' reviews for third-party apps. The research was first reported by CNET sister site ZDNet.

Who ISN'T listening? Report claims Apple contractors often hear private conversations from Siri

Daily Mail - Science & tech

It's official: if you're using a voice-assistant -- pretty much any voice-assistant -- someone could be listening in. The Guardian reports that Apple has joined an ever-growing list of tech companies that listens in on commands uttered through its virtual voice-assistant. Snippets of audio, reports The Guardian, are sent to contractors who are responsible for listening and grading them for accuracy, including whether or not the command was accidental or whether its assistant, Siri, was able to complete the task. As is the case with other similar programs from Google and Amazon, however, a whistleblower says the program has inadvertently swept up audio data that most might find confidential. Those include, according to an unnamed source in the report, conversations between patients and doctors, sex, criminal activity, and official business talk.