Voice-activated security is a staple of Hollywood movies. In the real world, though, it's not quite as effective as you might think.
Voice recognition tech is so vulnerable to hacking and exploitation, in fact, that security researchers recommend disabling your smartphone or tablet's voice features ASAP.
In an interview with Forbes, Yuval Benn-Itzhak with security firm AVG had this to say:
“Microphones should be disabled immediately and our current recommendation is that the user switch off features [involving voice commands]. At the moment, leaving biometric technology as it is today is like leaving a computer without a password and just allowing anyone to walk by, click and take an action."
Burglars with enough technical know-how could, according to Benn-Itzhak, bypass your gadgets' security without having to guess a password or break out a virus.
Hackers can already make their way into Nest's "smart" thermostat. What you might not know is that security researchers have already tricked Siri and Google Now - Apple and Android's voice-activated personal assistants - into letting someone past a phone or tablet's lock screen.
One test involved the researchers releasing a game that recorded a player's voice. They had a test subject unknowingly record specific commands that ordered Google Now to unlock, email their contacts and more. Then the researchers played back the recorded commands to the phone.
It turns out that Google Now isn't great at telling whether or not it's listening to a pre-recorded voice. It just does what it's told.
While this threat is just theoretical at this point, something tells me that this is going to be a big problem in the future. I won't go as far as AVG and say you should disable voice commands, but you should keep a close eye on your smartphone or tablet.
A good compromise is to disable Siri on your lock screen. Go to Settings>>Touch ID & Passcode. Type in your passcode - you do have one set, right? - and under Allow Access When Locked, slide Siri to Off.
On Android, you'll want to turn off OK Google from the lock screen. Go to Settings>>Voice and tap "OK Google Detection." Then make sure "From lock screen" is off. Note that very few Android gadgets have this ability yet, but it will be more widespread after Android L arrives this month.
Voice commands are just one way hackers can break into your gadgets. Learn the 7 essential steps to secure your smartphone or tablet.