Voice recognition software may be convenient but it's also a security risk, expert warns

The CTO of AVG Technologies says that manufactures need to let us configure our voices to the activation of important commands

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The Independent Tech

A security expert has said that voice recognition services are still so unsafe that hackers could control our homes or spend our money by simply using their own voice.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, the Chief Technology Officer at Internet security specialist AVG Technologies, wrote a blog post yesterday that said more needed to be done to tackle the gaps in security when it comes to technology such as Apple’s personal assistant Siri or Google Now.

Google Now, for example can do an image search, show you what films are on that night, or tell you where the closest Indian restaurant is, with just a voice command.

“However, these voice recognition technologies – that are so necessary on smart devices – are perhaps not as secure as we give them credit for,” Mr Ben-Itzhak writes.

“After all, they are not configured to our individual voices. Anyone can ask your Google Now to make a call or send a text message and it will dutifully oblige – even if it’s not your voice asking.

“What if your device is vulnerable to voice commands from someone else? What if it could call a premium number, send a text message abroad, or write an email from your account without your knowledge.”

He says that the increasing popularity of and support for the Internet of Things – such as smart TVs and washing machines – could render some devices in your home unsafe.

This would be the case for say home security systems, cars and connected work spaces, if and when these facilities become available.

He adds: “While we haven’t discovered any samples of malware taking advantage of this exploit in the wild yet, it is certainly an area for concern that device manufacturers and operating system developers should take into account when building for the future.

“As is so often the case with technology, convenience can come at a risk to privacy or security and it seems that voice activation is no different.”

The Independent has contacted Apple and Google for comment.

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