Amazon Alexa sent a conversation recording to someone on the user’s contact list without permission, according to media sources.
Based on a report of KIRO7, a media outlet covering Seattle and western Washington state, a woman in Portland got a phone call two weeks ago. The person on the other end of the line said, “Unplug your Alexa devices right now. You’re being hacked.”
The person was one of her husband’s employees on the contact list, calling from Seattle. He said he received audio files of recording from inside their house and sent the audio files to the family.
The family installed Echo devices in every room of the house in order to control heating, lighting and the security system.
After receiving the call and unplugging all Echo devices, she called Amazon several times and got an Alexa engineer to investigate on-site.
The engineer didn’t give a clear explanation for the incident. He did apologize 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes and thanked her for bringing this to their attention.
After the news became widespread, Amazon told The Washington Post that this incident is rare and that it is not a common issue for every user.
According to Amazon, the voice assistant woke up from a word that sounded like “Alexa” and also responded to a phrase which it interpreted as “send message.” Alexa did ask “To whom?” and interpreted the answer from a conversation to be the name in the contact list.
“As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely,” said Amazon.
It isn’t the first time Alexa is suspected to invade user privacy. Last month, researchers founded a flaw in Alexa to be continuously listening to a person without the user’s knowledge. Amazon quickly fixed the issue after it was reported to the company.