Alexa recorded a woman’s private conversation and sent it to a random contact

In Category Amazon News Posted by err0r On 01/16/19 Comments 0

It's every smart home speaker owner's worst nightmare: a private message recorded and sent to a recipient without their knowledge. But that’s what happened to a Portland woman, who told a Fox News affiliate that her Amazon Echo recorded an audio clip of her conversation and sent it to a person on her contact list.

The woman, who declined to provide her last name to Fox, said she was alerted to the bug when the recipient of the message — one of her husband’s employees — called her home to alert her that she’d been “hacked.”

“Amazon takes privacy very seriously,” an Amazon representative told Fox. “We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”

An investigation by an Alexa engineer turned up no leads, according to the woman. But the engineer speculated that the Echo speaker “guessed” the command to send a message via Alexa Voice Messaging without asking for verbal confirmation. Normally, Alexa and Google Assistant — which has similar messaging capabilities — alert users when they’re about to send an audio message.

“[Amazon] said, ‘Our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us; they saw exactly what you said happened, and we’re sorry,'” said the woman. “‘He apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes, and he said, ‘We really appreciate you bringing this to our attention; this is something we need to fix!'”

Amazon said it offered to “de-provision” the communication features of the woman’s Echo speaker so that she could continue using its “smart home” features without concern that her voice would be captured and transmitted. The woman, however, is seeking a refund.

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