Thursday 4 September 2014

Your Chrome Speech Recognition Can Be Turned Into Spying Device by Malevolent Intent

Talking of computer browsers, worldwide users are mostly familiar with three of them, which are Internet explorer of Microsoft, Free share Firefox and the third is Google Chrome. Among these three familiar browsers, a special feature separates the Google Chrome from the other three, and that is Speech Recognition. It can secretly listen to you, using your computer’s microphone and can transcribe the conversations occurring at your home without your knowledge.

This ‘hands-free’ Voice Recognition’ technology has been an obsessive for many technological companies over the years. Their vision is to build a Matrix-like world where the computer users like us will be too lazy to even move their fingers to click a mouse button. Their future has us all perpetually online through computers performing almost all our daily functions via computer. The capability has been there around for some years and so has the ability to abuse it.

A Whistle-blower: 

An Israeli software developer, naming Tal Ater, was working on this Voice Recognition software, brings to world’s notice about a security bug in Google’s Chrome browser which is yet to be fixed. The whistle-blower warns that this bug in Google Chrome are being exploited by various malicious sites which can activate your PC’s microphone and listen to anything said around your computer even after you have left those sites.

Working Mechanism: 

The whistle-blower first discovered the bug while working on the voice recognition technology and is termed as Annyang. It is a tiny Java-script library that lets its visitors control the site with voice commands supporting many languages. The visitors uses this technology as an alternative to mouse or keyboard to manoeuvre around by simply saying commands like ‘search’ , ‘back’.

Spying activity: 

The whistle-blower though defends Google as there is no fault or any sinister intent on their part, for this error. It is the websites that the user’s visit, which is being exploited by the Google Chrome bug to spy on you in your home and you won’t be aware of that.

Example: suppose you are gaming online or just surfing the internet with an old computer of yours. You enter a site that supports voice recognition and you activate it upon entering, simply by clicking a button marked ‘Voice Recognition Off’. After you have finished navigating the website through your own voice commands you click the ‘Voice Recognition Off’ button or just leave the website. Your Google Chrome Browser will show that the plug-in is now off and has stopped listening to the sounds caught by your microphone. The problem lies with the monitor which clearly shows that the listening device is OFF, is actually still ON.

Refusal of fixing the bug: 

Google refuses to fix the bug as they are not guilty on their part. But the whistle-blower explains that Google will just need to fix the hole of its browser or else this whistle was not needed to be blown.

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