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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

With Laser, Researchers Say They Can Hack Alexa, Google Home, Siri

A variety of voice assistant products.

A study found that laser pointers, and even flashlights, may be used to effectively hijack digital assistants from hundreds of feet away.


Researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M) and the University of Electro-Communications in Japan used laser pointers, or even flashlights, to effectively hijack digital assistants like Google Home, Amazon's Alexa, and Apple's Siri from hundreds of feet away.

U-M's Kevin Fu said, "It's difficult to know how many products are affected, because this is so basic."

The researchers said the devices' microphones respond to light as if it were sound, as they contain a small plate called a diaphragm that moves when sound hits it.

Focusing a laser or flashlight on the diaphragm can reproduce this movement, and translate it into electric signals; correcting this flaw would require redesigning most microphones.

U-M's Daniel Genkin said keeping home-based voice assistants out of the line of sight from outside is one simple solution.

From The New York Times
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