Ah, boss? I just overheard someone say they spotted the microphone!
Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2019 - 12:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nest, google, alphabet, iot
You may recall a news story last summer, about USB fans which were handed out to journalists that showed how oblivious many people are when it comes to security. The recent news about the microphone in Google's Nest Secure shows that the lesson still has not been learned, though there is certainly an extra level to this particular story. Google recently announced that they would be activating the microphone embedded in the Nest Secure, something which they completely neglected to document that their home security system contained.
The Nest Secure consists of several sensors to detect a window or door opening, as well as a base with a speaker to sound alerts and a keypad to verify the user. You would not reasonably expect such a thing to contain a microphone, let alone an undocumented one. Google insists that they simply forgot to include it in the parts list and that this is all just an innocent misunderstanding. They are also asking you to believe that the microphone has never been enabled and that there is no possible way that it might have been secretly recording conversations.
As a point in Google's favour Ars Technica does point out that every other product Google sells has a microphone in it, and so it would be reasonable to suspect one was present in the Nest. In a world where your TV spies on you, an update can brick your shoes and you can buy smart locks that will ensure you will never be able to go home again, just to mention a few, having your security system spying on you does not seem too far fetched.
“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.” According to the company, "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option.”
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Password managers are storing plain-text master passwords in PC memory @ The Inquirer
- LG folds at prospect of launching bendy phone while Samsung flaunts its upcoming kit on telly @ The Register
- Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 Modem Is the 4G/5G Solution We've Been Waiting For @ Slashdot
- ReRAM biz Crossbar hopes fav-du-jour IoT AI can help it avoid the tracks of Intel's Optane storage chip juggernaut @ The Register
- Valve is killing off Steam's video section because nobody really used it @ The Inquirer
- The death of Windows Phone and the five stages of mobile grief @ The Tech Report