Uncovered: 1,000 phrases that incorrectly trigger Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant

“Election” can trigger Alexa; “Montana” can trigger Cortana.

Uncovered: 1,000 phrases that incorrectly trigger Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant

Enlarge (credit: Schönherr et al.)

could pose more risk than benefit to users. New research suggests the privacy threat may be greater than previously thought.

The findings demonstrate how common it is for dialog in TV shows and other sources to produce false triggers that cause the devices to turn on, sometimes sending nearby sounds to Amazon, Apple, Google, or other manufacturers. In all, researchers uncovered more than 1,000 word sequences—including those from Game of Thrones, Modern Family, House of Cards, and news broadcasts—that incorrectly trigger the devices.

“The devices are intentionally programmed in a somewhat forgiving manner, because they are supposed to be able to understand their humans,” one of the researchers, Dorothea Kolossa, said. “Therefore, they are more likely to start up once too often rather than not at all.”

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