Conference Paper

Alanwar, Amr
Balaji, Bharathan
Tian, Yuan
Yang, Shuo
Srivastava, Mani

KAUST Grant Number
Sensor Innovation research program


Voice controlled interactive smart speakers, such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod are becoming commonplace in today’s homes. These devices listen continually for the user commands, that are triggered by special keywords, such as "Alexa" and "Hey Siri". Recent research has shown that these devices are vulnerable to attacks through malicious voice commands from nearby devices. The commands can be sent easily during unoccupied periods, so that the user may be unaware of such attacks. We present EchoSafe, a user-friendly sonar-based defense against these attacks. When the user sends a critical command to the smart speaker, EchoSafe sends an audio pulse followed by post processing to determine if the user is present in the room. We can detect the user’s presence during critical commands with 93.13% accuracy, and our solution can be extended to defend against other attack scenarios, as well.

Alanwar, A., Balaji, B., Tian, Y., Yang, S., & Srivastava, M. (2017). EchoSafe. Proceedings of the 1st ACM Workshop on the Internet of Safe Things. doi:10.1145/3137003.3137014

This research is funded in part by the National Science Foundation under awards # CNS-1329755 and CNS-1705135, and by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through its Sensor Innovation research program. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the funding agencies.

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

Conference/Event Name
1st ACM International Workshop on the Internet of Safe Things, SafeThings 2017


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