This bug lets Google Assistant listen in on your conversationsLast updated on Oct 16, 2019, 08:19 pm
Google Assistant, the famous voice-activated AI made by Google, carries a critical security issue.
The issue, first flagged by the founder of Android Police, gets the Assistant up and running, thereby draining the battery of its device and also increasing the chances of capturing voice conversations without permission.
Here's all you need to know about it.
Wake word detection
First, here's a refresher on Assistant's wake word detection
We all know that Google Assistant on phones, smart speakers and displays can be triggered by the 'Ok Google' or 'Hey Google' wake word.
The command prompts the Assistant to activate and listen to the query that follows immediately after the wake word.
It helps the Assistant answer only relevant queries that the user wants and nothing else.
Issue triggers with multiple Assistant-powered devices
While Assistant's detection works seamlessly, AP founder Artem Russakovskii reported that its capabilities can go haywire when there are multiple Assistant-powered devices in close proximity.
Essentially, when you trigger Assistant on one device, say like a Google Home, the other one, like on your phone, can also activate.
Post that, the second device's Assistant remains stuck as 'active', listening in on your conversations indefinitely.
Here's what he tweeted about the issue
Love it when my Google devices hear me say Hey Google, realize I'm talking to the Google Home, and THEN NEVER TURN OFF THEIR SCREENS.— Artem Russakovskii (@ArtemR) October 9, 2019
Presumably, this Pixel 3 will remain on until the heat death of the universe or its screen catches fire, whichever comes first. pic.twitter.com/5paCoU9xi1
Several users have reported this issue
Along with Artem, many other Google Home and Pixel users have reported the same problem.
The complaints associated with this issue go back to February 2019 and can be found on Google Assistant forums and Google Pixel subreddit.
However, it's worth noting that the bug doesn't occur frequently, which means you may or may not be able to replicate it.
Either way, this can be a major problem for users
As the bug in question keeps the secondary Assistant active (even when the primary device has handled the query), it can listen in on your conversations without you knowing.
The data can obviously be deleted from your Google account, but the fact that the AI is hearing what you're talking about is pretty scary.
Also, its working may even drain your phone's battery.