Here’s why it’s important to audit your Amazon Alexa skills (and how to do it)

Here’s why it’s important to audit your Amazon Alexa skills (and how to do it)


What are you up to, glowing orb? | Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Amazon has always tried to push its Alexa-enabled smart speakers as a platform, boasting about the number of third-party “skills” available (more than 100,000 in the most recent count). In our experience, the majority of these skills are useless gimmicks; one-note jokes you install and forget about. But it turns out they might pose a privacy threat, too.

The first large-scale study of privacy vulnerabilities in Alexa’s skill ecosystem was carried out by researchers at North Carolina State and Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany. They found a number of worrying issues, particularly in the vetting processes Amazon uses to check the integrity of each skill. Here’s a quick summary of their findings:

  • Activating the wrong skill. Since 2017,…

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