A recent radio broadcast of the National Public Radio hacked its listeners’ Amazon Echo devices and made them go crazy by accident.
Amazon Echo, a.k.a. Alexa, is quickly growing more and more popular among tech lovers of all ages. The voice command assistant has been on the market ever since June 2015 and it’s considered as one of the easiest ways to transform your house or apartment into a smart home. Alexa’s tiny sleek frame and its magical abilities such as controlling light sources and thermostats, playing music and news podcasts, providing weather reports and so on have idolized the device into a must-have tech toy for people, who don’t want to use apps on their smartphones in order to achieve the same effects the Amazon Echo devices offer.
However, it seems that Alexa isn’t as magical as it seemed and definitely not reliable as you might have thought. A radio broadcast run on the National Public Radio earlier this March somehow managed to hack into Alexa devices all over the US. It’s not clear if the devices thought the radio broadcast hosts were saying the magical awakening word “Alexa”, but the devices apparently listened in on the podcast – and responded to it just as if they were hacked! Somehow all Amazon Echo machines, which were close enough to radios during the podcast, got affected by it. Alexa devices all over the US woke up and started acting crazy. Some of the broadcast’s listeners immediately alerted the radio and its hosts. Some of the hacked people even stated that their Amazon Echo tech toys had started messing around with their thermostats, playing news reports, and so on. The radio show’s hosts even started joking about the entire thing and started giving direct commands like “pledge your loyalty” using the awakening word “Alexa”.
Overall, all of this just shows how vulnerable Amazon Echo devices are and that they are always listening.