Bracelet Of Silence Jams Alexa’s Ability To Eavesdrop – IOTW Report

Bracelet Of Silence Jams Alexa’s Ability To Eavesdrop

Orlando Sentinel

Last year, Ben Zhao decided to buy an Alexa-enabled Echo speaker for his Chicago home. Zhao just wanted a digital assistant to play music, but his wife, Heather Zheng, was not enthused. “She freaked out,” he said. Zheng characterized her reaction differently. First she objected to having the device in their house, she said.

Then, when Zhao put the Echo in a workspace they shared, she made her position perfectly clear: “I said, ‘I don’t want that in the office. Please unplug it. I know the microphone is constantly on.’”

Zhao and Zheng are computer science professors at the University of Chicago, and they decided to channel their disagreement into something productive. With the help of an assistant professor, Pedro Lopes, they designed a piece of digital armor: a “bracelet of silence” that will jam the Echo or any other microphones in the vicinity from listening in on the wearer’s conversations. More

26 Comments on Bracelet Of Silence Jams Alexa’s Ability To Eavesdrop

  1. Smashing it with a hammer and throwing it in the trash will do it too.

    Or, and here’s a better suggestion, just don’t buy a friggin’ Alexa.

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  2. I will never buy such a listening device, but I’m wary of being some place outside my home where one of the damned things may be eavesdropping.

    If you haven’t done it yet, if your smartphone is Google/Android, go into all the Google app settings and then to app permissions and TURN OFF ACCESS TO MICROPHONE AND CAMERA AND LOCATION and anything else you don’t want the Evil Empire to know about.

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  3. I used to have a GPS that could be voice activated by a specific set of words. However, it used to get activated quite often when I listened to old radio episodes of Dragnet

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  4. “Yeah, but the thing would kill all your little gerbils.”

    Definitely won’t be owned by Buttigieg or the Obamas.

    8
  5. Fixed, gave Alexa to my grandson at college. Oh, by the way, I only had it for two days. I told him never to bring it back.

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  6. Uncle Al, hate to tell you but I don’t think they honor your permission settings. My phone is set up just as you say yet YouTube is constantly sending me videos on things I’ve either talked about or relating to places I’ve been. As an example, I’ve been wrenching at a friends small engine repair business. I never look up stuff for small engines, lawn mowers, etc. My YouTube is packed with videos on small engine repairs. Was talking to a guy about my former motorcycle ice racing adventures from my past and suddenly my feed brought up ice racing videos. They’re dishonest eavesdropping crooks.

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  7. Chicago’s aldermen (without a Siri, Echo, or other of these personal spies) will overlook the fact they are ugly and line-up to buy them. A whole division of FBI agents will be left bewildered.

    3
  8. Get that stupid thing out of your house.

    But, be aware you router can be used to not only listen in on you, but it can detect exactly where you are in your home. At this point, at least, a warrant is required to use it to spy on you.

    When bezos puts one of these Alexa spy devices in his homewrecker girlfriend’s bathroom, we’ll all have fun sharing the sounds.

    4
  9. I have one of the Fire TV’s that came with Alexa in bedded in the TV. It took about an hour to remove the microphone and put the TV back together.

    6
  10. just today I pulled out my phone & looked up a restaurant I haven’t been to in about a year to see what they had on the menu …. Google immediately informed me that I was last there on April 2019 😣

    … even though I previously had the ‘do not track me’ button on, they updated my phone 2 days ago & reset the settings …. they still track you, but w/ the button on they just don’t tell you they’re tracking you!

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  11. My friend: Yeah, that’s my Alexa.

    Me: Cool. Something that listens to everything you say. I once heard Alexa called the police because people just used Alexa and police in their conversation.

    Alexa: Calling… police.

    My friend: ALEXA!! CANCEL !!

    Me: Laughing my a** off with my hand over my mouth.

    Actually happened. Still think it’s funny when I see her.

    ============

    I would purchase low-key jamming gear if it could be worn inconspicuously. Not like that bracelet.

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  12. I like to remove my battery once in a while when I go to bed just to mess with them. I envision sirens going off and lights flashing at Google headquarters when I do it!😀

    3
  13. We wouldn’t have an Alexa in our house. There’s enough “smart” technology in here as it is — that we *hope* we have defeated.

    But, when I’m on a client site and they have one, I get a kick out of asking it play Limbaugh’s show, my favorite radio preachers, etc. Alexa’s programmed liberal. I had to do a lot of back flips w/it to get it to play some of the conservative programming I like.

    3
  14. My brother gave me an Echo for Christmas; it’s still sealed in its box…in the bottom of my safe. As far as the cell phone goes, when I need to call somebody I turn it ‘on.’ When I’m finished talking to them I turn it ‘off.’ I’m not a Luddite, but I don’t see the need (or want) to be tethered to a network 24/7/365.

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  15. Amazing isn’t it? Used to be people were upset, fearful and angry about government secret police groups, such as Stasi, keeping detailed track of all their activities, even minor ones. Now they volunteer to let organizations keep even more detailed records. Count me out.

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