Business Information Security – Cybersecurity Services

Are the intelligent assistant a risk for your privacy?

Marina Córdoba  // 19 June , 2018


The new revolution in technology are the intelligent assistants or IPA’S (Intelligent Personal Assistants) that consist of an application attached to a device (mobile, tablet, computer) that allows to perform predetermined actions by voice commands.

These intelligent assistants use ASR technology (Automatic Speech Recognition) for the recognition of speech and for the understanding of the language of the users, NLU (Natural language Understanding). These technologies work together to listen passively and understand the language that the user habitually uses.

They also generate benefits for the user, facilitating their everyday and avoiding waste time with daily operations. They are capable to write or read an email, make calls or turn on different devices in the house.


However, intelligent assistants also involves a lot of danger, they are targeted by cybercriminals. Due to the ease of attacking them, the Internet Security Office (OSI) warns of the risks to which these intelligent assistants are exposed.

Keep in mind that the user gives access to the assistants to a lot of personal information such as contacts, calendar or emails. This information is obtained with voice commands that can be activated by people with the same tone of voice or using the same intonation.

Another risk that exists is the possibility of activating the assistants using low frequency sound waves that the human ear can not grasp or the use of interlaced phrases that contain the activation word.

Also the passive voice of these devices recognizes at all times what users are talking. Sometimes the user is not aware of what data is being collected by the device and to what extent privacy is violated . It should be noted that the assistant recognizes the voice not only of the user but also of the people around him / her.


Finally to prevent possible violations in intelligent assistants we recommend you to follow the following tips:

  1. Configure the wizard to recognize only the voice of the owner or the people that he authorizes.
  2. Disable functions that are not commonly used.
  3. Set passwords for those functions that may contain sensitive personal information.
  4. Modify the activation word that comes by default.
  5. Protect all devices with at least  WPA2 and robust passwords .
  6. Deactivate, when not in use, the passive listening of the assistant to prevent it from being activated by mistake.
  7. Read the privacy policies to know what information the assistant collects and stores.
  8. Keep updated the software of the assistant and the programs that it uses.
  9. Do not disseminate confidential or personal information through the attendees.

Do you use intelligent assistants? Did you know about these dangers?

Marina Córdoba | Marketing Digital Assistant at  R3 CyberSecurity

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