Your Chrome browser may be listening in to your conversations according to a coder who found the bug by mistake. Should anyone be surprised?
Any computer using the Google Chrome browser can eavesdrop on conversations happening around it states Israeli coder, Tal Ater.
Ater found the bug while working on his own speech recognition software and claims that Google found a way to ‘fix’ the bug back in October 2013 but as yet to add the update to the latest version of Chrome.
Google has stated that the speech recognition system does not pose a threat to any users but Ater feels that it is a breach of privacy.
“Even while not using your computer – conversations, meetings and phone calls next to your computer may be recorded and compromised,” Ater commented in a blogpost.
For the voice recorder to work, users need to grant permission in the settings. Once permission has been granted, a red dot on the tab for the site will appear to alert users that they are being recorded.
Ater claims however, that the software can very easily be exploited and that the red dot doesn’t always need to come up on the screen for it to work.
“The malicious site you visited can continue listening in on you long after you have left it,” said Mr Ater. “As long as Chrome is still running nothing said next to your computer is private.”
Google stated, “the security of our users is a top priority, and this feature was designed with security and privacy in mind,” said a Google spokesperson. “We’ve re-investigated and still believe there is no immediate threat, since a user must first enable speech recognition for each site that requests it.”
While it is unlikely that Google is using the Chrome browser to spy on users, tech companies do seem to be on a mission to understand consumers better.
By tracking online activity and even gauging your mood, companies like Google can market to you better and advertise to you better.