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Forget Russian Spies; There Could Be One in Your Office

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 13, 2018 1:58 PM

Now that the dust has settled on the Russia hack in the presidential election two years ago, we can all go back to our regularly scheduled programming. Right?

After all, the next presidential election is two years away, so who cares! It's not like Russian spies care about what's going on at your office. Right?

In case you were wondering, however, a new hack turned some Amazon Echo speakers into spies. That's right, even if nobody else is listening, your smart speakers may be.

Echo Hack

Endgadget reported that Chinese researchers figured out how to use Echo to eavesdrop remotely. They created a "rogue Echo" by removing a memory chip, modifying firmware and soldering it back on the circuit board.

In other words, it's not like hackers can turn your device into a spy from afar. They would have to physically take it apart to do the hack.

Maybe if your smart device were made in China, or Russia, but nobody's saying that. But Alexa, the voice of Echo, has been listening to users for some time.

Two years ago, Alexa famously became a witness in a murder investigation. Police got a warrant for her data to check the defendant's alibi at the scene of the crime.

Always Listening

Echo listens 24/7, but owners can turn it off or at least mute the device when communicating confidential information. They can also delete the stored data by logging in to their Echo app or Amazon account.

Unless somebody has physically hacked the device, however, it's not likely to be a Russian or Chinese spy. At least, not before the next presidential election.

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