New Research Shows Smart Devices May Make You More Vulnerable to Hackers - But, Don't Panic
Article By: Zach Casper, PCI’s Cyber Network Operations Director
I’m sure by now many of you have read one of the recent articles discussing the ability to control voice assistants with lasers that easily pass through windows. Research Hackers have proven that they can – essentially – replay voice commands silently by simply having them ‘vibrate’ the microphone via the photo-acoustic effect.
Pretty fascinating. But it also can sound pretty scary. I think these articles can be a bit alarmist. There are some practical things we can do to protect our home and family.
Now, the real threat here varies. If you have a connected garage door or IoT deadbolts, then – YES – someone could use this technique to access your home.
If you have your remote start for your car connected, it could be turned on. But you still must use the key fob to unlock and access the vehicle. However, many will turn off after 10-minutes.
Items could be purchased if you have your device set to do so via Amazon or, other stores. Inside the home, you could be spooked by toggling light switches.
Either way, it’s a privacy concern that can sound scary.
I’ve read mitigation steps, stating to move your voice assistance away from windows in your home. I checked my device location and, yes, it can be seen through a few of my windows. But here’s the deal, I don’t have a single smart lock in my home. I don’t yet trust them.
I am, however, looking at smart garage door openers. Mainly for the feedback portion so I can check to make sure I shut my garage door once I’ve gone to bed or left the house. If I opt to get one, yes, items in my garage could be at risk.
However, there are two easy steps you can take to protect against this new threat.
- Voice assistants have a mute button. Press this and they no longer listen nor respond to commands. I’ll often use this feature when I don’t want my kids commanding Alexa to play Baby Shark for the 60th time, or I simply don’t want it listening at night or when we are away from our home.
- Unplug the device when on a trip and away from the home. Make this a part of your normal routine when securing your home when leaving on vacation.
As always, just be mindful and practical when it comes to devices and their security. These two simple steps will go a long way in protecting your home and family.
Here’s a link to two of the articles I read. Let me know what you think.