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The Rise of the Voice Assistants





Every major tech manafacturer has a Voice Assistant from Microsoft Cortana, Google Home, Apple Homepod, and Amazon Alexa.

Introduction

According to the Pew Internet Research states, "Voice assistants are present on a wide range of devices, but the most common way for Americans to use them is on a smartphone: 42% of U.S. adults use voice assistants in this way. Some 14% of the public has used a Voice Assistant on a computer or tablet, while 8% say they use them on a stand-alone device such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home."(1)

Presented with a number of reasons why they might use voice assistants (1):
  • 55%  = interact with their devices without using their hands,
  • 23% = because they are fun,
  • 22% = speaking to an assistant feels more natural than typing, and
  • 14% = easier for children to use

Voice Assistant Security
Even though these devices are fun and great to use, there is the ongoing threat of cyber-security. One attack in particular, a "Dolphin Attack",  was tried out by students in the USA and China (2). The article states: "Two teams said the assistants responded to commands broadcast at high frequencies that can be heard by dolphins but are inaudible to humans. They were able to make smartphones dial phone numbers and visit rogue websites." (2)
The solution to this problem is to: 1) unplug your smart device when you're not home, or 2) keep your device away from windows where someone can broadcast ultra-sonic messages to your device, or 3) Apple and Google both allow [or even change] their "wake words" to be switched off so the assistants cannot be activated without permission. (2). The best defense is to simply train your device to understand your voice. The same goes for your family members with separate profiles. If it only reacts to your voice, then people outside your home can't plan an attack.
Devices with a voice assistant technology are popping up everywhere. Although, they are meant to help the user reduce barriers, be aware of your surroundings and use some security measures to ensure your voice assistant stays safe. The following article from Symantec named, "Everything you need to know about the security of voice-activated smart speaker" goes into detail on what you should do to secure your device (3). 
Every major tech manufacturer has a voice assistant from Microsoft Cortana, Google Home, Apple Homepod, Samsung Bixby, and Amazon Alexa.  Just be mindful of your voice assistant (as well as other Internet of Things (IoT)) devices. They are easy to use, fun, and can save you time, but ensure that when you're not at home, people can't access your information
Bibliography
(1) http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/12/12/nearly-half-of-americans-use-digital-voice-assistants-mostly-on-their-smartphones/
(2) http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41188557
(3) https://www.symantec.com/blogs/threat-intelligence/security-voice-activated-smart-speakers


This post first appeared on Nick Stockton: Be The, please read the originial post: here

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The Rise of the Voice Assistants

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