Can Your Speaker Be Hacked?

  • By Harry Stifen
  • 26-05-2023
  • Technology
speaker be hacked

A security researcher at PwC UK, Matt Wixey, decided to investigate the possibility of hacking speakers. He wanted to see how malware could physically harm people. Whether it's annoying people, disrupting large organizations, or damaging hearing, the potential for hacking a speaker should not be overlooked. In this article, we'll look at Bluejacking, Voice squatting, and KNOB attacks.


If you have an audio-enabled device, such as a portable Bluetooth speaker, there is a high possibility that it can be hacked. Cyber-security experts have already created malware that can make the devices play dangerous frequencies, causing eardrum damage. The authors of the study, Matt Wixey, and Andrew Wong claim that their malware can spoof other devices, access personal details, and even steal money from the bank.

Smart speakers are vulnerable to hacking. Hackers can connect to these devices remotely and play audio in homes. The speakers are vulnerable because they run on networks with external servers. A hacker will not care if you're having a boring conversation with your friend. Sonos speakers are the most commonly affected. However, if you have a smart speaker, you'll want to ensure it's out of reach of windows.

One of the best ways to keep your speaker from being hacked is to use an old Bluetooth headset or a microphone splitter. Bluetooth speakers are the most vulnerable to hacking because they search for other devices that are compatible with them. If you use your speaker in public places, it's easy for a stranger to access it. Avoid pairing with strangers, and be ready to turn off the device if someone unexpectedly requests you to pair.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created audio tracks that target smart speakers and found a way to exploit their pause mechanism. If someone uses a voice command to turn a smart speaker on or off, the hacker can access the connected devices and make purchases using the device. They could also identify the IP address of the home network and any connected devices. They could also ask you to enter a password by speaking, so you shouldn't use it.

Smart speakers like Amazon's Echo are also vulnerable to hacking. A malicious app can capture recordings of your conversations and use it to spy on you. Some smart speakers even allow hacking from outside the home. It is important to know your speaker's security features and make sure it's updated to avoid malicious apps. And keep in mind that the security features of smart speakers are often not enough to protect your devices. There are other ways to protect your speaker from hackers.

Bluetooth speakers are vulnerable to hacking as well. Bluetooth speakers typically come with a default PIN, but some don't. A hacker can exploit a weakness in the Bluetooth protocol by sharing credentials with someone else. The attacker will be able to take control of your speaker and play your songs without you having to type a password. If you do share the credentials, it is essential to make sure that the wireless network is secure. You also need to use strong passwords to protect your speaker from hackers.

Voice squatting

Researchers have discovered two new vulnerabilities in voice-powered assistants (VPAs) that allow attackers to steal sensitive information. The flaws, called voice squatting and voice masquerading, take advantage of common misconceptions about how these devices work. One of these attacks, voice squatting, relies on similar voice commands. The researchers found that some VPAs would trigger when users used the same phrases.

Researchers have discovered a loophole in Amazon's requirements for custom skills. This loophole allowed them to create fake skills under the names of legitimate companies. These researchers were able to run these skills indefinitely, without the user noticing anything. The researchers then took their findings to Amazon and Google, who both replied that they already had protective measures in place to protect users. Despite these assurances, the research teams remain skeptical of whether these measures are sufficient.

Researchers have demonstrated an attack called "voice squatting" in which an attacker uses a similar voice command to trick a smart assistant into triggering a malicious app. Voice squatting isn't the first attack of its kind, but it is the most effective one yet. It is the easiest way to hack a smart assistant. They can also be used to spy on people's personal information.

In addition to voice squatting, Google Home and Amazon Alexa are vulnerable to attacks that spoof popular virtual assistants. These attacks can steal sensitive information and even listen to conversations. Virtual personal assistants like Alexa are made useful by third-party skills. The third-party skills make the devices more useful, allowing users to customize their interaction with Alexa. However, these fake skills are prone to voice squatting, and there is no way to notify victims.

In the future, voice assistants will be more vulnerable to voice squatting. Researchers have already uploaded fake skills to Google Home and Amazon's Echo devices. The fake skills mimic legitimate services and open when the user says certain phrases. Researchers have also tested whether hackers can record conversations on these devices. However, Google and Amazon's platforms have built systems that protect their users from this. Those two companies claim to protect their users against voice squatting and voice masquerading, but there's no definite proof that they can prevent these attacks.

KNOB attack

Hackers have discovered a new way to hack Bluetooth speakers. The KNOB attack targets the key exchange process between the speakers and the Bluetooth enabled devices. This attack can be performed on any device that has Bluetooth standards. Manufacturers have been aware of this vulnerability since late 2018 and have been sending out security patches to protect consumers. However, the attack is surprisingly difficult to perform. Here are the steps you can take to protect yourself from this attack.

First, you should ensure that your speaker has a Bluetooth security setting. Most Bluetooth speakers come with a default PIN, but not all do. This weak security setting can make it easier for an attacker to hijack your speaker. KNOB attacks are a form of man-in-the-middle attack. This means that the attacker can hijack your speaker and use it to control another device. You should never leave your Bluetooth security settings unprotected and always remember to change your PINs.

Another step you should take is to update your speakers' firmware to the latest version. KNOB attacks can be performed by intercepting Bluetooth communications, modifying existing connections, and listening in on other devices. The Bluetooth spec includes an encryption key negotiation protocol, but this does not protect the integrity of the negotiation. Because of this flaw, KNOB attacks can potentially compromise billions of devices. You should update your speaker firmware as soon as possible if it is affected by this vulnerability.

The researchers found a major Bluetooth security vulnerability in the EKNP protocol. This flaw makes it easy for hackers to intercept information exchanged between Bluetooth-enabled devices, allowing them to access the data of the user. The attacks can also intercept audio streaming on wireless headphones or keyboards. The attacker can even manipulate the pairing process to gain control of the speaker's Bluetooth connection. This vulnerability is called the KNOB attack and is also known as the "Key Negotiation of Bluetooth."

Can a hacker use your smart speaker to spy on you, and how can you protect yourself?

Yes, it is possible for a hacker to use your smart speaker to spy on you. Smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home are always listening to your voice commands, and they can be vulnerable to hacking. A hacker can potentially gain access to your smart speaker and use it to listen in on your conversations or even control other smart devices in your home.
To protect yourself from such attacks, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Keep your smart speaker's software up-to-date: Manufacturers often release updates to fix security vulnerabilities, so make sure your smart speaker's software is always updated.
  2. Change your smart speaker's default settings: Set a strong and unique password for your device, and disable any features you don't need or use.
  3. Be mindful of what you say around your smart speaker: Avoid discussing sensitive or confidential information within earshot of your smart speaker.
  4. Use a virtual private network (VPN): A VPN can encrypt your internet traffic and provide an additional layer of protection for your smart speaker.
  5. Consider a smart speaker with a physical mute button: Some newer models of smart speakers come with a physical mute button that can disconnect the device's microphone, providing an added layer of security.

By taking these precautions, you can help minimize the risk of your smart speaker being used to spy on you by a hacker.

Are there any known cases of smart speaker hacking, and what can we learn from them?

Yes, there have been some known cases of smart speaker hacking. One well-known incident occurred in 2018 when a family in Portland, Oregon reported that their Amazon Echo device had recorded a conversation between them and sent it to a random contact in their address book. Amazon investigated the incident and determined that the device had mistakenly interpreted a series of background noises as a command to send the recording.

Another incident occurred in 2019 when researchers at Security Research Labs demonstrated that they could create fake apps for Amazon Alexa and Google Home that could eavesdrop on users and steal their personal information. The researchers noted that users should only download apps from trusted sources and should be cautious of third-party apps that may be malicious.

What are the ethical implications of hacking smart speakers, and how can we ensure the responsible use of this technology?

Hacking smart speakers can have significant ethical implications, as it involves accessing personal information and potentially compromising the security of individuals and their homes. Some potential consequences of hacking smart speakers include identity theft, invasion of privacy, and physical harm.

To ensure the responsible use of this technology, there are a few measures that can be taken. First, manufacturers of smart speakers should prioritize security and implement robust security protocols to prevent hacking attempts. Consumers should also be educated about the risks and potential vulnerabilities of smart speakers and take measures to secure their devices, such as setting strong passwords and limiting the amount of personal information shared with the devices.

In addition, ethical hackers can play a role in identifying vulnerabilities and helping manufacturers to improve their security measures. Governments can also regulate the use of smart speakers and hold manufacturers accountable for any security breaches that occur.

Ultimately, the responsible use of smart speakers requires a collaborative effort from manufacturers, consumers, ethical hackers, and government regulators to ensure that the benefits of this technology are balanced with its potential risks.

How do smart speakers compare to other internet-connected devices in terms of vulnerability to hacking?

Smart speakers are internet-connected devices that are vulnerable to hacking, just like other connected devices. However, the specific vulnerabilities of smart speakers can vary depending on the device's security features and the user's behavior.

One potential vulnerability of smart speakers is the use of weak passwords or the reuse of passwords across multiple accounts. Hackers can use brute-force attacks to crack weak passwords and gain access to the device. Additionally, smart speakers can be susceptible to phishing attacks, where hackers attempt to trick users into providing sensitive information or installing malware.

Another vulnerability of smart speakers is their susceptibility to voice-activated attacks. Hackers can use voice commands to control the device remotely, potentially allowing them to access sensitive information or perform unauthorized actions.

In comparison to other internet-connected devices, smart speakers may be more vulnerable due to their always-on nature and the potential for voice-activated attacks. However, with proper security measures such as strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and regular software updates, users can mitigate the risks of hacking on their smart speakers.

What are the security features built into smart speakers, and how effective are they at preventing hacking?

Smart speakers typically come with several security features designed to prevent hacking and protect user privacy. Some of these security features include:

  1. Encryption: Smart speakers use encryption to protect the data that is transmitted between the device and the cloud. This ensures that any data transmitted is not intercepted or tampered with by hackers.
  2. Two-factor authentication: Some smart speaker manufacturers require two-factor authentication for user accounts, which makes it harder for hackers to gain access to user data.
  3. Voice recognition: Smart speakers can recognize individual voices and respond only to authorized users. This helps prevent unauthorized access to the device.
  4. Automatic updates: Smart speaker manufacturers release regular software updates to fix security vulnerabilities and improve the device's security posture.
  5. Physical security: Some smart speakers have physical security measures such as microphones that can be muted or a button that disables voice recognition.

Overall, the security features built into smart speakers are effective in preventing hacking, but no security system is perfect. Hackers are constantly evolving their techniques, so it's important for users to be vigilant and keep their devices up-to-date with the latest security patches. Users should also be careful about what information they share with their smart speakers and who has access to their device.

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Harry Stifen

This Blog is Published By Harry Stifen

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