Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

Pre-release Google Home Mini goes rogue, starts recording 24/7

Pre-release Google Home Mini goes rogue, starts recording 24/7

To his horror, he saw that there were thousands of Home Mini recordings.

Ouch. With the Google Home Mini being released on October 18th, it was discovered that some of them were constantly recording audio and transmitting it back to Google without being intentionally activated. The company was quick to respond to the issue and has already deployed an update to stop the vulnerability.

The number of devices believed to be affected by the bug is quite low - being limited to devices given out at a "Made by Google" event in the United States, the company informed Sky News, however it may still cause concern for British consumers.

He came to this conclusion after experiencing certain mishaps with the Google Home Mini, in which the smart speaker would fail to pick up on commands. It's only then the microphones record what you are expressing to it, convey it to the cloud and try to respond to your question. If Google can't adjust the touch sensitivity through a software upgrade, it might have to recall the units it has sent out. However, the alarming part in this whole snooping episode is that the Home Mini didn't make any noise while recording the sounds. And it appears that the problem is a glitch that causes affected units to think that they should be recording when they should not. As a result, Google has rolled out a software patch that deactivates the touch panel entirely. The culprit, it seemed, was the device's touch panel, created to allow his Home Mini to activate Google Assistant without a verbal command; due to a fault, the device constantly experienced "phantom" touch events that turned the assistant on and began recording.

Russakovskii opened Home's search history page and confirmed that there were a ton of searches made from his end, things he never consciously asked the Google Home Mini in the first place. The bug won't impact the Google Home Max, as it isn't launching until December.

Google announced a bunch of new hardware at its #MadeByGoogle event last week. And issues like these trigger the notion further. However widespread this issue is (we haven't seen any other reports like this), the good news is that this was caught before the product hit store shelves.

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