Multiple technology implementations that once existed only in science fiction are now common in millions of homes. According to cybersecurity services specialists, a clear example are voice-activated apps, such as Google Sound Amplifier, for Android. This tool has access to anything that the user listens to, such as TV shows, conversations between friends, music that the user listens to, etc.
While some consider its use to be really useful for multiple purposes, less confident users consider these tools to be authentic Trojan horses in terms of surveillance in the middle of the digital age.
The developers claim that the most common use of this app is to help people with hearing handicaps. Using Sound Amplifier, people with hearing difficulty will clearly be able to detect sounds that they might not otherwise be able to detect without this intervening in their environment, so other people nearby won’t even notice their use. This app uses machine learning to classify millions of audio samples and adapt to the needs of each user.
According to cybersecurity services experts, when a user connects their hearing aids to a smartphone with Sound Amplifier, they can customize frequencies to increase the sounds emitted by a given audio source. Simply put, the augments app amplifies the desired sound and filters out ambient noise, so you can comfortably listen to a conversation in a noisy environment.
Despite its advantages, experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) believe that threat actors could take advantage of this app for malicious purposes. For example, a private conversation can be easily heard with this tool; in addition, an attacker could combine the use of this app with social engineering techniques to steal the login credentials of an unsuspecting user.
As if that is not enough, the use of this application implies privacy inconveniences. Cybersecurity services specialists claim it is a proven fact that Google Sound Amplifier will store a record of every user conversation that will then be sent to the cloud. For obvious reasons, this is a really serious privacy issue, similar to privacy violations that are frequently incurred by voice-activated software tools, such as Google and Apple attendees.
Problems like this, although undesirable, should at least help remind us of the need to create an Internet Bill of Rights that protects the user against these attempts at systematic surveillance. Haven’t we fought many battles before to prevent those kinds of violations of our privacy?