Recently, Reddit users brazedowl has suddenly “stripped” Google Home to listen to every sound in his apartment even when not in use. Specifically, when brazedowl accidentally burned an item in the kitchen causing the smoke sensor to sound loudly, the user’s phone immediately sent a notification saying that Google had “heard” the sound of the smoke sensor. , even though Google Homes devices are still sleeping.
Typically, Google Home will only work when it hears certain phrases or commands (wake words), the most common being “OK Google” or “Hey Google”. However, according to the sharing above, it seems that this smart speaker is still secretly eavesdropping on the surrounding static movements, and of course, it is impossible to ignore the shrieking smoke sensor of brazedowl.
It seems that Google Home is still silently listening to all the surrounding noise, even when it is not activated by wake word.
In addition, a number of other users have noticed similar odd behavior from Google’s speaker models. For example, they all receive a notification when they make sounds such as broken glass, the sound of air bubbles squeezing from air bubbles, the sound of air compressors, and the sound of alarm clocks or alarms.
In a document posted on Protocol, a spokesperson for Google said that the latest software update for Google Home has accidentally enabled this “wait” feature for their speaker model. Immediately after that, they immediately fixed the above situation, and apologized to the user for this negligence.
Besides, Google also emphasized that all of its smart speakers are only active and start to receive commands when users say the above wake word phrases. However, the problem that brazedowl and many other redditors face can cause a serious security hole. There’s no guarantee that Google won’t make this mistake again in the future, and it doesn’t matter if they can do anything shady with the devices they offer customers.
Although the above problem has been fixed, it also leaves many concerns about security and privacy issues for users in the future.
Google is also not the only brand to use the “listen at all times” feature. Earlier in 2018, Amazon’s Echo smart speaker was equipped with a similar capability called Alexa Guard. Besides listening to suspicious noises, Alexa virtual assistant will also confirm whether the user is speaking normally or quietly. If they whispered, it would respond at a much lower volume as well.
However, unlike Google, Alexa Guard is activated only by the user’s voice when they are out of the house, not always turned on 24/7. After all, this is also one of the features that help them reinforce the security of their apartments.
This is not the first time Google has automatically enabled the microphone feature of the speaker without prior notice to the user. In 2019, this technology giant voluntarily installed the microphone into the Nest Secure alarm system. Meanwhile, the information on their box or website does not mention this. It was not until Google released an update that allowed Nest Secure to use Google Assistant that users were supposed to be eavesdropping all the time without even knowing it.
According to Independent / Reddit