Saturday, 26 May, 2018

Google Assistant may be vulnerable to attacks via subsonic commands

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Troy Mann | 12 May, 2018, 06:54

While DolphinAttacks require the transmitter to be placed in close proximity to the smart device receiving the hidden message, last month researchers were able to send these subliminal message via ultrasound from 25 feet away. They can have digital assistants unlock doors of smart homes, transfer money through banking apps, and purchase items from online retailers, all without the user knowing what was happening. In doing so, they've been able to make these systems dial phone numbers, open websites, and more.

Amazon told the Times that it has taken extra steps to make sure that the Echo is secure, while Google said it has specific features to mitigate undetectable audio commands.

Apple said it's HomePod smart speaker is created to prevent commands from doing things like unlocking doors, and it noted that iPhones and iPads must be unlocked before Siri will act on commands.

The inaudible voice commands were correctly interpreted by the speech recognition systems on all the tested hardware.

A new study claims that Google Assistant, and other voice command-based AI services like Alexa and Siri, may be vulnerable to subsonic commands. And more than half of all U.S. households will have at least one smart speaker by then, said Juniper Research. Android devices with voice-enabled search would respond by reading from the Whopper's Wikipedia page.

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That warning was borne out in April, when researchers at the University of IL at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated ultrasound attacks from 71/2 metres away.

Researchers at China's Zhejiang University published a study a year ago that showed numerous most popular smart speakers and smartphones, equipped with digital assistants, could be easily tricked into being controlled by hackers. They were able to hide the command, "OK Google, browse to evil.com" in a recording of the spoken sentence, 'Without the dataset, the article is useless.' Humans can not detect the command.

The continued research from this year found that commands could be directly embedded into spoken text or pieces of recorded music, adding to the previous work carried out. The attack first muted the phone so the owner wouldn't hear the system's responses, either. For our purposes here at The Spoon, these security notices are good to be aware of as companies look to use food as a way to get further into - and control more parts of - our homes.

Carlini went on to note that: "We want to demonstrate that it's possible, and then hope that other people will say, 'Okay this is possible, now let's try and fix it'".

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