Tag Archives: alexa

How to hack a house using a laser

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If you use the software, such as voice assistants of the largest companies, you should be aware, as scientists discovered a new type of hacker attack!
The attack exploits the sensitivity of microphones using micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). Microscopic MEMS elements react to light as if it were sound. Although researchers have tested the possibility of hacking only Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Facebook and a limited number of tablets and phones, they believe that all devices using MEMS microphones are vulnerable to this threat.

Below you can find a video showing how exactly this procedure works:

The attack is based on the idea of exchanging the sound with a low-power laser beam directed at the device. Basically the lasers trick the microphones into making electrical signals as if they’re hearing someone’s voice. It works even from the distance of 110m and can be executed from another building, through glass windows or doors. It can be really dangerous as some people do not use the required authorization feature for certain commands so that hackers are able to open smart garage doors, order stuff from Amazon on your cost or even start your vehicle. 

Researchers who discovered this dangerous feature claim that the cost of producing a device that could hack any voice assistant, based on MEMS microphone, is about $400 including $340 laser driver, a $20 laser pointer and a $25 sound amplifier. The low costs and simplicity of using it, in this case, are not an advantage, as it makes it possible for almost anyone to make such a device at home, unfortunately for criminals as well.  

To protect your smart household I would highly recommend setting as many passwords as possible when it comes to the security of your voice assistant, moreover to place it in a part of your house which is not visible from outdoors. 

If you would like to find out more details on how exactly this hacker attack works, you can visit the website devoted to this solution:


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Alexa, a witness of a murder?

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Echo speaker

Since the release of Amazon Alexa in 2014 there have been many controversies regarding the amount of data that the speaker is collecting at all times. The way it works is that the Echo device is designed to detect “wake words” and only then start working. However, there were a lot of cases when Alexa actually recorded more than the user would expect. Echo can sometimes misinterpret the “wake words” or other commands and start listening and recording even when a user does not intend to record.

Court cases

Even though this is something that should not happen at all, the New Hampshire authorities investigating the murders of two women still want to check. A judge ruled that they can examine recordings from the Echo device because they believe that there might be evidence related to the crime. Investigators believe that Echo could have recorded the attack and the events that followed it.

Last year, when the similar case occurred in Arkansas, the suspect who owned the speaker agreed to release recording from the day of the suspected crime. In the end, a murder charge was dropped.

Is our privacy at stake?

Though these recordings might be beneficial in such cases, we have to think about the amount of information we are giving away to large corporations. Should we question our actual privacy, or should we believe that our recordings are in good, safe hands? Using Alexa you can do almost anything, from ordering food to your home address, to checking your bank account. While at a time it is very convenient, we need to keep in mind that such devices are always listening and gathering all kinds of personal data from the user.

It all comes to personal preferences and the ability to adapt to the actual changes. In the modern world the word “privacy” almost lost its meaning. Every device that you own collects information. About you, your data usage, your shopping preferences and so on. There is almost nothing you can do about it, since this is the life that we have now. This data can be used in many different ways, from personalized ads to such things like winning presidential campaigns. In most of the cases it won’t affect you that much, however, it is worth imagining what could be done with the information that is being collected about you. Who knows, maybe one day you say something that you would like to buy around Echo speaker and a couple of days you will see ads about this on Amazon.


  1. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazon-echo-judge-orders-company-produce-alexa-recordings-double-murder-case-2018-11-12/
  2. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-alexa/oregon-family-finds-amazons-alexa-has-a-mind-of-her-own-idUSKCN1IQ05B
  3. https://www.bestvpn.com/privacy-news/is-alexa-listening-to-you/
  4. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/07/tech/amazon-echo-alexa-bentonville-arkansas-murder-case/index.html
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