IT ISN’T AS BAD AS IT SOUNDS: This Amazon Echo ‘hack’ can turn your friendly home assistant into a covert wiretap.

Vulnerabilities in older editions of the Amazon Echo can let hackers transform the digital assistant into a covert listening device, researchers have claimed. As a result, the exploit, which can be done without affecting the device’s functionality, could place a wiretap in your living room.

Research published on Tuesday 1 August by MWR InfoSecurity detailed how its experts found the Amazon Echo to be susceptible to a physical attack, allowing a hacker to gain control over the device and install malware, listen in on conversations and steal private data.

By removing a rubber base at the bottom of the Amazon Echo, the research team could access the 18 debug pads and directly boot into the firmware of the device, via an external SD card, installing malware without leaving any physical evidence of tampering.

The researchers said they were able to gain “remote root shell access” that enabled them to access the ‘always listening’ microphones on the machines.

Any “hack” requiring physical access to the device is really no different from breaking in and planting a bug — which doesn’t require an Amazon Echo at all.