Tag: replies

Alexa and Google Home abused to eavesdrop and phish passwords

By now, the privacy threats posed by Amazon Alexa and Google Home are common knowledge. Workers for both companies routinely listen to audio of users—recordings of which can be kept forever—and the sounds the devices capture can be used in criminal trials.

Now, there’s a new concern: malicious apps developed by third parties and hosted by Amazon or Google. The threat isn’t just theoretical. Whitehat hackers at Germany’s Security Research Labs developed eight apps—four Alexa skills” and four Google Home actions”—that all passed Amazon or Google security-vetting processes. The skills or actions posed as simple apps for checking horoscopes, with the exception of one, which masqueraded as a random-number generator. Behind the scenes, these smart spies,” as the researchers call them, surreptitiously eavesdropped on users and phished for their passwords.

These horror stories of privacy violations on smart speakers are unending. There are just a few options here.

  1. Don’t have anything, that has a mic or camera and is connected to the internet, around you.
  2. If that’s too much for you, don’t have any smart speakers in your home. Use your smartphone to connect to a good old Bluetooth speaker.
  3. If you do want a smart speaker around, learn you to use it cautiously. Switch it off when not needed. Use the mute option. Do not, do not install any third-party skill on the device. Let only Google and Amazon track you. At the very least, they can be held accountable.

Why there’s no Instagram on iPad?

John Gruber wonders what’s holding Instagram back from launching a Instagram for iPad. Especially when they adjusted their app for Galaxy Fold.

Instagram is willing to update their Android app to adjust to the extraordinarily niche Galaxy Fold, but still hasn’t updated their iOS app to adjust to the extraordinarily popular and much-used iPad?

I feel there are a couple points here that might help understand this.

  1. Instagram still believes it is a creative photo sharing application first. This is what the first line on their homepage reads – a simple, fun & creative way to capture, edit & share photos, videos & messages”. They possibly want more creators on their platforms than passive consumers of the stream of photos. For them then, iPad is not a good device for taking pictures.
  2. According to them, Galaxy Fold is still a smartphone first with a first rate camera system. So, it deserves providing the first rate experience of using Instagram.

Of course, how true this assumption is, is debatable.

Tik Tok, Tick Tock…Boom.

Tik Tok is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on US social networks convincing US consumers, in particular kids, to download and use the app. This is fucking brilliant, by the way.

I have managed to stay away from this social phenomenon” – but am always impressed with the creativity on display in the app. Everytime that happens, I cautiously move away – I do not want another mindless entertainment fighting for my attention.

And am not even thinking about the political backdrop and its effects – which this essay from John Battelle nicely summaries.