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Defeating Digital Assistant Snooping

sergeauckland

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#2

GrimSurfer

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#7
Find a bat, a glove and a ball.

Carefully place the ball on a kid's "T" stand. If you have no "T", a small table will do.

Now imagine you're The Bambino. Line up your inside shoulder with the ball on your practice swing. Then take a quarter step back and swing for the fences. I mean really lean into it.

Don't worry about Alexa. It's an optical illusion and, if you'd swing is true, it will never bother you or your family again.

IMG_1581.JPG


What is the glove for? Cleaning up the plastic bits.

Things are a little more complicated if you're an Aussie. Your first choice is "hills" or "flats"!
 

DonH56

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#9
Actually, eavesdropping on an old phone line is pretty easy if you have access to the CO, don't need to go anywhere near the phone.
 

RayDunzl

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#10
Actually, eavesdropping on an old phone line is pretty easy if you have access to the CO, don't need to go anywhere near the phone.
Preparation for Telecom Trunk Maintenance 2:30am, La Vergne, Tennessee

Input the command to Block the 24 circuits in each affected trunk module (24 voice lines x 64kbit = 1.536Mbit = T1)

Wait for any circuits in-use to go idle and become blocked.

Note that one circuit doesn't go idle and blocked after a few minutes

Ok. Monitor the call:

Male: Ooooh baby....
Female (whispering): I told you I can't talk now...
Male: Ooooh baby....


Ok, it's still 15 minutes till the scheduled time, so wait. 15 minutes pass, that one circuit still busy.

Male: Ooooh baby...
Female: (still whispering) I can't talk! My husband is in bed with me!
Male: Ooooh baby...


Me: Hey dude, she told you she can't talk. How about it?

Male: (pause)...
Female: (pause)...


Click...
and Click...

Ok, Bill. they're all blocked now. Shut it down.
 

pierre

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#12
I believe it’s too late: either we revert to no connection either fighting is too hard. Plus all the bugs, this week Samsung advise owners of smart tv to run manually a weakly virus scan ... great. So assistant, tv, smart whatever, fridge maybe? Just looking at the firewall logs it is scary. Mobile phone are worse, iPhone are incredibly chatty, it is much harder to set up a firewall. If you have good advices I am listening.
 

DonH56

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#13
Not in old spy films.
Really, an argument about that one line? It was a joke, but I give up, you win. Some new spy films do show people clipping into central lines but it's not worth it to me to go back and change my post.
 
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#14
Placing an externally reporting, proprietary, always on device like this in your home precludes any guarantee of security or privacy. The only solution if you must have a voice activated digital assistant without living in the equivalent of a glass house with no blinds is to self host, with an open source framework like Mycroft. Of course, my evaluation is that the primary attraction of devices like the Alexa is raw convenience and that's generally where the critical evaluation stops. So, setting up a properly hardened home network with a server / firewall / vlans / etc is way out of scope for most people.

While I'd love to see a proper commercial self-hosted product, as a business the appeal and ease of just connecting everything into your AWS / GCP / Azure infrastructure is huge for many (good) reasons and wont make a difference to the bulk of your potential customer base.

As for smartphones, your options are relatively limited. There is a company called Purism that makes the Librem 5 smartphone, which has hardware switches for its sensors and a Debian based OS. There's also a company called Privoro which makes a case and software for iPhones that controls sensor access. Both interesting solutions, though there may be other options.
 

restorer-john

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#15
Seriously, do any remotely sensible people have these pieces of junk in their homes? None of my friends or family are remotely interested in "digital assistants"- they are all intelligent, independent thinkers.

Even my two teenage boys think any and all digital "assistants" are useless. In fact, they call them all "AI" (Autistic Intelligence).
 

SIY

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#16
I have a better way of avoiding the snooping. I won't let one of those things in the house.

I've read 1984. The irony is that in that book, everyone was obliged to have a surveillance device at home, we now actually choose to pay money to have one or more.

S
1969: "Be careful what you say or we may get wiretapped."

2019: "Wiretap, what's a good recipe for blueberry pancakes?"
 
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#17
I came to DC to work for two ex-NSA guys - Ken Ammon and Jerry Harrold. He had hired (and got one out of jail) coders that worked from me in New Hampshire doing some of the first IoT designs in 1995-98 ( http://www.ajawamnet.com/amnet/index.html ). When we got bought by Verizon, we all had to take typical corporate training.

One was a thing that talked about "... never put anything in a text, email, etc.. that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the NYT..."

It went so far as to state that if you had something that might be deemed incriminating or similar, to meet the person, in-person; say, in a park (even had a little silhouette animation with a guy on a park bench) and tell them that way. It referred to many cases like the Enron thing...

One of the grey hats I worked with mentioned, "Security is a practice - not a product..." Stuff like using a basic text only email client, and not allowing things like Alexa's in your house.

This has always been the case - with telcomm since the 1960's.

Recall the show Laugh-in? There was a character Lily Tomlin played - from 1968:

"...well Mr. Veetle, I don't see why you're kicking up such a ruckus... according to our files your present bank balance plus stocks ...."

"Privileged information... [snort snort] Oh, Mr. Veetle, that's so cute...you're dealing with the telephone company..."


Yea...

I do have one thing - if I had the time, I'd do - anyone that wants to do it atleast send me a link to you Youboob channel....

Imagine getting a case of Alexas...

"Alexa - Sledge Hammer..."

It responds "A slege hamm..." and right then it gets smashed with a sledge hammer...

"Alexa - Guillotine..."

Alexa: "A guillotine is a ..." KA-CHUNK

"Alexa - Steam Roller..."

Alexa: "A steam roller is ..." crush...

You get the idea... I'd buy that for a dollar...
 
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digicidal

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#18
"I am an engineer. I love technology," Carey said, "but I have very little faith in the people who control technology. "
Yup... sums it up nicely I think. Although he's an optimist compared to me, as he said "very little faith" not "no faith whatsoever".
 

jsrtheta

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#19
I came to DC to work for two ex-NSA guys - Ken Ammon and Jerry Harrold. He had hired (and got one out of jail) coders that worked from me in New Hampshire doing some of the first IoT designs in 1995-98 ( http://www.ajawamnet.com/amnet/index.html ). When we got bought by Verizon, we all had to take typical corporate training.

One was a thing that talked about "... never put anything in a text, email, etc.. that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the NYT..."

It went so far as to state that if you had something that might be deemed incriminating or similar, to meet the person, in-person; say, in a park (even had a little silhouette animation with a guy on a park bench) and tell them that way. It referred to many cases like the Enron thing...

One of the grey hats I worked with mentioned, "Security is a practice - not a product..." Stuff like using a basic text only email client, and not allowing things like Alexa's in your house.

This has always been the case - with telcomm since the 1960's.

Recall the show Laugh-in? There was a character Lily Tomlin played - from 1968:

"...well Mr. Veetle, I don't see why you're kicking up such a ruckus... according to our files your present bank balance plus stocks ...."

"Privileged information... [snort snort] Oh, Mr. Veetle, that's so cute...you're dealing with the telephone company..."


Yea...

I do have one thing - if I had the time, I'd do - anyone that wants to do it atleast send me a link to you Youboob channel....

Imagine getting a case of Alexas...

"Alexa - Sledge Hammer..."

It responds "A slege hamm..." and right then it gets smashed with a sledge hammer...

"Alexa - Guillotine..."

Alexa: "A guillotine is a ..." KA-CHUNK

"Alexa - Steam Roller..."

Alexa: "A steam roller is ..." crush...

You get the idea... I'd buy that for a dollar...
We have a whole generation that has never learned what any Chicago street urchin could have told them: "Don't write anything down." When I was a defense attorney, Facebook was a treasure trove. People would actually boast about making false accusations against my clients, like no one could figure out how to find their posts. I stopped a felony prosecution in its tracks when I showed the DA that the deputy sheriff who had charged my client had "friended" my client's wife the day after the arrest.
 

garbulky

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#20
Seriously, do any remotely sensible people have these pieces of junk in their homes? None of my friends or family are remotely interested in "digital assistants"- they are all intelligent, independent thinkers.

Even my two teenage boys think any and all digital "assistants" are useless. In fact, they call them all "AI" (Autistic Intelligence).
It's debatable if I'm remotely sensible:D:D
. However, it is one of the best things in my house and I can't imagine going back to the way it is.
Instead of going into massive detail you can read what it's actually like in use here
http://emotivalounge.proboards.com/thread/51943/talk-house-amazing-echo-review

A few thoughts
- The power of the always on digital assistant that it can allow you to control your entire house including your entire home theater system. And it works how you want it not how somebody decides you want it.
-All your non smart appliances work with it. Also you can completely ignore that you have a smart house and use it like you normally would which is what my in law does when she visits. Fully backwards compatible.

- When you have one in every room, it responds to you wherever you are. You don't have to think about it. If anything this is its biggest selling point. Your entire waking life in your house, you are catered to no matter where you are.
- Due to its powerful intercom features, you can talk with your family in any room of the house hands free. Or it can call them when they are outside the house on their phone. And they can intercom in using their phone into any room in the house. Seriously powerful communication.

- You can also use the announcement feature for brief messages all over the house.
- You can have your entire house change colors with color changing and dimming bulbs.

Some common things I use it for:
"Announce can you get x from upstairs?"
"Remind me to do x at this time."
"Movie mode" all lights turn off, amps turn on, tv switches to Blu Ray HDMI input, DAC switches to coax input.
- "What's the time"
- "Will it rain today?" (Yes, you can expect 0.5 inches of rain at 2PM).
- "I'm getting up (all lights turn on)"
- "Set thermostat to 71"
" Turn off thermostat"
 
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