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Great, researchers have found a way to hack Alexa, Google Home, and Siri with laser pointers

Well, this is new.

Apple homepod
Image: Unsplash

Japanese and American researchers from the University of Michigan have found a way to hack Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Siri. However, it may not be with something any hacker would use regularly. They have been taking laser pointers and, occasionally, flashlights to the microphones on smart home devices reports The New York Times.

The researchers found that the microphones on these kinds of devices respond to flashing lights the same way a person would to talking to it.

Using a laser pointer, these researchers were able to turn the lights on and off again, open smart-locked doors, and even start cars that were linked to smart home devices.

Wait, a laser pointer hack can hack…those?

The researchers tested their hypothesis in a variety of situations. One of them, taking place at the University of Michigan, had a Google Home device being hacked from the top of a water tower. The Home was located across the street 200+ feet away. Another experiment included using a telephoto lens, where the researchers were able to override a device 350 feet away.

What’s dangerous about this, is the microphone interference can allow the hacker to take over any voice commands. Kevin Fu, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, is surprised how much can be affected by a simple laser pointer.

“This is the tip of the iceberg. There is a wide gap between what computers are supposed to do and what they actually do. With the internet of things, they can do unadvertised behaviors, and this is just one example.”

An unnamed Amazon spokeswoman has said they are not familiar with the light problem but urges customers to take safety precautions.

What do you think? Surprised that a simple laser pointer can be used to hack your smart speaker? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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