Alexa and Google spy on you

Only after the Google SVP let the public know ‘He’d let guests know about smart speakers‘, there is more bad news on these smart home devices. Researchers found approved apps that deliberately turn these devices to spy on their owner.

Alexa is listening
Alexa and Google Home evasedrop

Amazon- and Google-approved apps turned both voice-controlled devices into “smart spies.”

Source: Alexa and Google Home abused to eavesdrop and phish passwords

Google chief: I’d disclose smart speakers

“Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.”

Well, d’uh. If Rick Osterloh, SVP of Devices and Services, says so. At least the BBC writes.

Behavioral advertising efficiency

Researchers from U Minnesota, UC Irvine and CMU took a look into “behavioural based advertisement”, a segment that requires heavy tracking of users across websites through cookies. A report of their findings is here: Online Tracking and Publishers’ Revenues: An Empirical Analysis. Money quote:

Empirical analysis of behavioral advertising finds that surveillance makes ads only 4% more profitable for media companies

They found that despite the 40% “ad-tech” premium charged by behavioral ad companies, the ads only added about 4% the media companies that published them, meaning that behavioral advertising is a losing proposition.

Source: Boing Boing

Phones Open to Attack through WhatsApp Flaw

Meanwhile, another flaw from the Facebook universe. While it appears it’s not immediately related to data leakage, it gives great potential to 3rd parties, though. On the upside, nobody will attribute it to Facebook this time.

It’s a good opportunity to point out and recommend the alternatives to Whatsapp, in particular Signal and Threema.

A WhatsApp vulnerability left Android and iOS devices open to attack from sophisticated surveillance software. The Facebook-owned company said it hasn’t yet been able to determine how many people were impacted, and told users to ensure they’re running the latest version of the app.

Source: WhatsApp Flaw Left Phones Open to Attack From Sophisticated Spyware | Digital Trends