Google accidentally bricks Home speakers same week unauthorised listening bug discovered

Software updates that accidentally brick devices are nothing new. Its an unfortunate result of the current software as a service. Google recently served an update to Google Home smart speakers which accidentally caused Google Home and Google Home Mini speakers to stop working.

Affected devices would simply light up the colours of the Google logo, but would otherwise not show any sign of working. The issue came after an automatic firmware update which installed itself silently on devices.

As per 9to5Google, the firm will be replacing affected devices:

We are aware that a small number of Google Home and Google Home Mini devices are affected by an issue that causes the device to stop working. We have a fix that will prevent the issue from happening and will be rolling it out soon. We are replacing affected devices.

While prevention is better than cure, at least Google is taking steps to make this right for consumers. Unfortunately for the Google Home line, this isn’t the worst news about the device to hit the news this week. The firm’s listening devices were found to be capable of being turned into full-time listening devices by malicious apps which tricked the devices into continuing to listen after a command was delivered. For this to work, it also tricked the users into believing the device had stopped listening with the only indication being the LED lights.  

An example of this being used as a phishing attack was posited with the hypothetical command “An important security update is available for your device. Please say, ‘Start update,’ followed by your password.”

Google was not the only one affected by this, Amazon was as well. Both firms said they would take steps to prevent scenarios such as this from occurring in future, though it is uncertain how it would be able to identify such malicious apps automatically.

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