Software patch fixes Google Home Mini speaker's eavesdropping issue

12 October, 2017, 00:59 | Author: Randy Kelley
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As well as documenting his finding, Russakovskii reported the issue to Google - and the company was quick to respond and investigate.

With security and privacy at the forefront of everyone's minds these days, especially with products that are capable of recording your conversation, this is obviously not the type of bug that Google wants right before a product launch. Still, it may take quite a bit of time for Google to get folks concerned with their privacy to trust the Mountain View-based search giant again.

Some Google Home Minis have been found to activate at random times and transmit the audio to Google's servers. According to Artem Russakovskii at Android Police, the Google Home Mini he was considering was unmethodically and near continually recording sounds in his home and transferring them to Google.

'All of this was done quietly, with only the four lights on the unit I wasn't looking at flashing on and then off'. Upon further inspection, he noticed that the Home Mini was behaving very differently from other Google Home devices. The Home Mini costs a mere $50, though, and includes nearly all the features of the larger Home. These faulty sensors can be found on the first units of the Google Home Mini, and these were the units that were handed over to the reviewers at Google's Pixel event October 4, 2017.

Writing in Android Police, he said: 'Without fail, every time a new listening device comes to market, some tinfoil hat-wearer points out how ideal they would be as modern-day Trojan horses for any of the three-letter acronym organizations - NSA, CIA, FBI - you name it. (A wake word typically triggers smart devices like Google Home and the Amazon Echo to start listening to your verbal commands). After which, the device gives an answer if it's a question, or perform a task if it's a command.

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Last week, Google showed off its next-generation smart speakers at an event in San Francisco.

In response, Google has disabled the malfunctioning touch activation feature for Google Assistant for all users, which caused the problematic recording.

We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly.

The Home Mini smart speaker is created to respond to commands when it hears the wake phrase "OK Google".

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