Spying chronicles by technology author Mugambi Paul

As people shift to working from home in response to measures to stem the spread of the global coronavirus outbreak, a new security threat has reared its ugly head. Lawyers are now warning that smart speakers, such as Amazon Alexa, could be spying on them during critical meetings at home.

U.K. law firm Mishcon de Reya issued advice to staff to mute or shut down listening devices like Amazon’s Echo or Google’s voice assistant when talking about client matters at home. The firm also suggested that staff not have any such devices near their workspace.

The warning from Mishcon covers any sort of visual-enabled or voice-enabled device, such as the aforementioned smart speakers from Amazon and Google. However, Joe Hancock, who heads Mishcon de Reya’s cybersecurity efforts, said that video products such as Ring, also owned by Amazon, as well as baby monitors and even closed-circuit TV, are also a concern.

“Perhaps we’re being slightly paranoid, but we need to have a lot of trust in these organizations and these devices,” said Hancock. “We’d rather not take those risks.”

He added that the firm is worried about these devices being compromised, especially with cheap knock-off devices.

Smart speakers pose a security risk
Law firms are currently facing challenges trying to create work-from-home arrangements for specific job functions while maintaining security. Alongside confidential discussions, critical documents and communications also need to be secured. This mirrors the situation faced by banks in Wall Street, where some traders are now being asked to work from alternative locations that banks keep on standby for disaster recovery, instead of from home, to maintain confidentiality.

Smart speakers have already become notorious for activating in error and making unintended purchases, or sending snippets of audio to Amazon or Google. In fact, a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners claims that their installed base was 76 million units and growing, which has put them under scrutiny from cybersecurity experts.

Devices can start recording even by accident
For their part, Amazon and Google claim that their devices are designed to record and store audio only after they detect a keyword to wake them up. These companies say that instances of inadvertent activation are rare. However, a recent study by Northeastern University and Imperial College London found that these can happen between 1.5 and 19 times a day.

“Anyone who has used voice assistants knows that they accidentally wake up and record when the ‘wake word’ isn’t spoken – for example, ‘seriously’ sounds like the wake word ‘Siri’ and often causes Apple’s Siri-enabled devices to start listening,” stated the study.

“There are many other anecdotal reports of everyday words in normal conversation being mistaken for wake words,” continued the report. “Our team has been conducting research to go beyond anecdotes through the use of repeatable, controlled experiments that shed light on what causes voice assistants to mistakenly wake up and record.”

Companies are listening in
One of the more concerning things about these devices is that the companies behind them are actively listening in. Last year, Amazon admitted that not only did Alexa save recorded audio, even if they were deleted, but that its employees were also actively listening in on those recordings.

“This information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone,” Amazon said in a statement after the fact came to light.

“We have strict technical and operational safeguards, and have a zero tolerance policy for the abuse of our system. Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow.”

Despite this, Amazon does not explicitly state in its terms and conditions that employees review customer recordings. That said, the privacy settings for Alexa does offer users the chance to opt-out of helping the firm “develop new features.”
lets meet on disability sausage YouTube channel and interrogate further

Imaginary blessings guest author: Opinion are of his own.

Over the last 3 decades, we have experienced a lot of changes on the area of technology. Additionally, all the aspects of our lives have tremendously changed
over the same period of time. Unfortunately, religion has remained analogue. The use of the term “analogue” in association with religion can make you,
the subscriber of its ideologies, very bitter and angry with me.

Before I face the wrath of your bitterness, I want to admit with thanks that the same religion has embraced modern technology in transmitting their summons
and communicating with the congregation in WhatsApp among other social-media platforms. The use of technology has intensified especially with the advent
of the Covid19 pandemic.

Do you consider the above 2 paragraphs as contradicting one another? Are you confused by the two? Before the confusion overwhelms you, I would like to
help you construct the difference between the transmission of the summon and its content. Which among the two is capable of influencing the congregation’s
way of life and preparing them to become better citizens of the kingdom of God?

As a faithful follower of your religion, how much change have you seen in the content of the summon offered to you by the same religion? Is the change
big or small, major or minor according to your assessment?

You definitely don’t require an answer to these obvious questions. 

As relates to the issue of disability, the traditional summons which regarded disability as:

·         A curse from God

·         A creation of witchcraft

·         Beggars in the streets

·         Divine punishment of past sinners carried over from generation to generation

These are perpetrated by religions although using better words and phrases with the promise of comfort and encouragement. The solution given to the “disabled”
fraternity is healing and hand-out contribution from the congregation. Healing, prosperity through prayers of deliverance and better life in heaven are
promises too good to be opposed or disagreed with, since the holy books used by the various religions also support them.

To be honest, I also believe in them. Although recorded in the holy books, these promises are verbalized and transmitted to the congregation by the clergy,
who are human beings. As it is, the nature of human beings, everything they give has to be accompanied by a corresponding cost to be paid by the person
with a disability. The emotional relief brought by the assurance of healing and the material relieve gotten from the generous charitable contributions
are not left out of this silently costed religious offers.

Healing, for example, is accompanied by a severe blame of lack of faith on the part of the person with a disability, in case it fails to take place after
the healing prayers. 

The very first question that welcomes a visually impaired person to the prayer meeting is:

·         What do you want God to do for you?

Like other people of my caliber, I once got this question and answered it in a way that was different from the previously given answers which the questioners
were familiar with. Instead of talking about the disability and healing, I said that I was coming to seek God’s presence. This triggered a series of many
other questions, key among them being: “you don’t want to be healed?”

As I previously mentioned, I know that God heals. Since I could not let my faith down, I answered them by saying that whenever there is God, healing will
automatically be there. I went further to give a triangulated analogy of the president, ministers and the security officers, that once the president is
invited, ministers and the security officers accompany him even without the invitation.

I don’t need to tell you that the above answer received a short moment of silence followed by a shrill-forced approval.  God and Satan, the champions of
good and evil respectively must be jovial and ever laughing at us, the so-called believers, due to our high expectation and pursuit of Imaginary Blessing.

I will use the example below to illustrate this remark:

In response to the clergy’s kind appeal for monitory support to the vulnerable and the disabled, the head of a school, public/private company, government
department or parastatal can generously give a substantial amount of money, let’s say 10,000 or more depending on the power of the currency.

The same generous believer, in the course of his/her official work next day, encounters an impaired applicant of a previously advertised position and denies
the applicant in question an opportunity solely on the basis of the impairment.

From this example, you must be amazed by the believer’s hypocrisy. If you had a chance of blessing, how much of those blessings would you give the said
believer? If God and Satan were to engage in a legal battle in pursuit of the soul of the said believer, who do you think would win the case?

I don’t want to get you into more confusion since I very well understand that you are not God, and therefore can’t know the formula of awarding blessings.
Above all, the 2 kingdoms have attorney-generals to advise them on the same. 

Following the good example of Jesus Christ, (who did not come to abolish or do away with the law of Moses, but to make it better) I would suggest that
religious summons improve by emphasizing on:

·         The presence of God in a believer’s life

·         long term charitable acts like donating their votes to the persons with disabilities alongside other material help.

Using their existing attention and respect from the political class, they can help the impaired persons to lobby for legally structured economic empowerment
and employment access programmers.

To their members who are lawyers and those in leadership/headship positions, they can encourage pro-bono legal advice and representation to the impaired
persons who are denied justice on the basis of their impairments and the extension of personal goodwill on those who go to offices to seek various services.

Before you start blaming me for politicizing religion, go back and read the world history (abolition of slave trade, decolonization and ending apartheid).

If you see no clergy or religious movements involved in all that, then you can go ahead and execute your blame. 

Lastly but most important, they should clarify that:

·         Disability is given by God and is part of his plan for the world as contemplated on by the “Call of Moses in the Book of Exodus” and the Remarks
of Jesus Christ in the gospel book of St. John

·         Impaired people are some of the best leaders, in reference to Morse’s, who was a stammered

·         Priority should be given to salvation and repentance so that healing can come as a bonus

·                                                                         Faith without actions is dead.

In conclusion, I wish to assure all who read this post that it is meant to give feedback for improvement and not for criticism. It is driven by the quest
to make the world better than I found it. Above all, I need to show appreciation for the spiritual services I consume by commenting on them and giving
my views on how the said services could be improved.
the views expressed above are for the author and are not associated with any agency or organization