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Security & privacy

Anyone can hack into your locked phone to send a text or make a call

In the past, the scariest thing that could happen to your smartphone was to get hacked, or have a critical security flaw. As our tech devices now come paired with digital assistants built-in, we have more issues to worry about.

This particular security issue is unfortunately with the Siri personal companion for iOS users. You probably know already know that to use the virtual assistant, all you need to do is say, “Hey Siri.” The digital assistant is activated once those wake-up words are uttered.

Siri been present since the introduction of the iPhone 6S in September 2015.

It’s a very useful tool if it’s not being utilized by someone other than the owner of the device. Apple’s security flaw makes it possible that anyone can commandeer someone else’s locked devices by using this function.

What is Apple’s Siri flaw?

The flaw involves someone manipulating voice controls for purposes that can be construed as unlawful. For example, someone could tell Siri to send a message or make a phone call from a device that isn’t theirs. They can tell Siri to call the last number that was dialed on the device.

Anyone nearby can say “Hey Siri, text mom” and it will begin composing a message. They could also make phone calls by saying something like, “Hey Siri, call Bob” and it will find someone in their contacts with that name associated to dial.

There is however a catch in that the person must have a voice print that’s similar to the device’s owner in order for the command to be executed successfully.

Other voice assistants are on the market as well that support varied users such as Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Both devices can learn to discern one person’s voice from another.

So what does this mean? Well if your voice is comparable to someone else’s, you could, in theory, access their device without even touching it.

Turn off Siri and protect your privacy

If you’re even slightly concerned with others hijacking your device, you can turn off the “Hey Siri” feature. Here’s how:

  • Go to Settings
  • Scroll down and tap on “Siri & Search
  • You can turn off the toggle that says “Listen for ‘Hey Siri
  • Or you can turn off the toggle that says “Allow Siri When Locked” – This will leve Hey Siri on, but only when your iPhone is unlocked.

For users that want their messages to stay private, these extra precautions may help give you that peace of mind. Also, be mindful that many devices such as iPhone 6S through iPhone X, Apple TV, iPod Touch 5th generation, some iPad Pro and iPad Mini versions, some Apple Watch versions, and HomePod all have Siri installed on them.

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