A cyber security expert has warned that parents could be unwittingly ordering Christmas presents through their virtual assistants.
It’s well-known that popular devices like the Amazon Alexa and the Google Home listen in to the conversations that take place in the room, mostly so that it knows whether you’re asking it something.
But a security expert has warned that at this time of year parents are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of having their conversations listened to by this revolutionary technology, as they could accidentally be ordering Christmas gifts when discussing them in the presence of their virtual assistants.
C3IA Solutions, a cyber security firm based in Poole, Dorset, says it’s especially risky for Alexa users whose bank details are linked to their Amazon accounts, as Alexa can send the information straight to the shopping giant to purchase the gifts.
Matt Horan, security director at the cyber security firm, told MailOnline that he knows of several recent examples of the devices listening in on personal conversations and taking them as commands that they then act upon without the owner’s knowledge.
In one case, a couple were discussing what kind of tent they wanted to buy and where to get it from. Their system listened in and then went on to order the product, which the couple were only eventually made aware of when they received an automated message from their bank account.
Last year an American TV presenter caused a mess when he said ‘Alexa order me a doll house’ live on air and hundreds of devices in different households went on to place the order.
Amazon Alexa users have flooded Twitter with anecdotes of their accidental orders.
Although Amazon say anything purchased by accident can be returned for free, Matt say that people still need to be more aware of how the systems work and.
‘With Christmas approaching I can foresee many people answering doors to delivery drivers with packages that the person knows nothing about – and which their ‘home helper’ has ordered for them’, he said.
‘Last year these virtual assistants were enormously popular Christmas presents and this year they might be ordering the families’ presents for them.
‘The most sensible is to disable the voice purchasing element of the device, or at least set up a passcode.
‘And of course they can be turned off when you are having detailed discussions about potential items you might want.’
Looks like you’ve got another little rascal to hide the Christmas lists from!