Security Risks Concerning Virtual Personal Assistants


VPA (Virtual Personal Assistant) software application follow commands of a user intelligently and performs a variety of tasks such as searching information on the web, scheduling an appointment, monitoring health data, initiating online shopping, searching for addresses & location, etc. Also known as Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPAs); Siri, Google Now, Alexa, Cortana, etc. are the most commonly used ones.

Although Virtual Personal Assistants are of great use, there are certain security risks concerning them. Here we have discussed the most prominent security threats associated with VPAs

  • Eavesdropping: A VPA is programmed to follow voice commands. So, it passively listens to everything being said, if the user forgets to turn it off when not in use. Thus, it ends up collecting user’s voice data without his knowledge. This recorded data always poses a risk of hijacking because cybercriminals might collect & use it unlawfully.
  • Vast Exposure Of Personal Information: VPAs resort to different databases on the web in order to respond to user’s query. Although it is highly convenient, it can pose a serious security threat.
  • Data Theft: VPA keeps a track of the user’s activity and stores that information on the device as well as a remote database. When an VPA hijacker gets hold of this information, he can extract the data and exploit it to offend the user.
  • Voice/Audio Hijacking: This technology recognizes voice to take commands. Even though it understands different words & their pronunciations, it does not distinguish the voices of different users. This can be used against the user, as an impersonator might command the VPA to perform tasks that may harm the user. Even if it recognizes the user’s voice, there is a possibility that a cybercriminal might use the actual user’s voice recording and issue commands to the VPA.
  • Remote Malware Downloading: A compromised VPA might be instructed to visit certain sites containing a malicious link. Once clicked, this link installs a malware in the device which continues to operate & damage the device remotely without the user’s knowledge.
  • Undertake Tasks Autonomously: Users might register automated commands with a VPA. This can be exploited by the hijacker to victimize the user.  For example, the user may direct his VPA to pay his phone bill every month. The VPA further takes the command and connects it to an authorized payment gateway. If the VPA is compromised, the hacker might dismiss the bill payment and transfer funds to his remote account.

There is no denying the fact that virtual personal assistants provide numerous benefits. However, it is important to stay cautious in order to avoid security risks.

For more information about IT, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213-4740.

, , ,

Comments are closed.