Over 25 million home voice assistants at increased hacking risk

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Amazon Alexa leads skill count against Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana. Reuters

While the Google Assistant and Alexa have raised a new multi-billion dollar market, a recent report by cybersecurity firm McAfee revealed on Monday that more than 25 million voice assistants, which are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) devices are at an increased hacking risk as cybercriminals are exploiting rudimentary vulnerabilities present.

As per Raj Samani, McAfee Fellow and Chief Scientist at McAfee, "Most IoT devices are being compromised by exploiting rudimentary vulnerabilities, such as easily guessable passwords and insecure default settings."

"From building botnets to stealing banking credentials, perpetrating click fraud, or threatening reputation damage unless a ransom is paid, money is the ultimate goal for criminals," he said.

The McAfee "Mobile Threat Report" suggested that in the second half of 2018, there has been a 550 percent increase in consumer security risks connected to fake and malicious apps.

It also added that the numbers of fake app detections by McAfee's Global Threat Intelligence, have raised from almost 10000 in June 2018 to nearly 65000 in December 2018.

The report indicated that the hackers are trying to use new devices to gain control over IoT devices via password cracking and violating other vulnerabilities, such as through the exploitation via voice assistants.

In addition to that Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Security Evangelist at McAfee said, "The rapid growth and broad access to connected IoT devices push us to deliver innovations with our partners that go beyond traditional anti-virus. We are creating solutions that address real-world digital security challenges."

The American computer security company has extended its partnership with Samsung to protect global customers from cybersecurity threats on Galaxy S10 smartphones.

However, it should be noted that as per a Juniper Research report, by the year 2023 there will be eight billion devices with integrated voice assistants compared to 2.5 billion at the end of 2018.