On Air Now
Heart's Feel Good Weekend with Lilah Parsons 10pm - 1am
22 November 2018, 16:49 | Updated: 23 November 2018, 10:37
A cyber security expert has warned parents of the dangers of discussing presents in front of a nearby Digital device - such as one of Amazon's Alexa products.
Several families have received unexpected presents arrive in the post after accidentally ordering presents through Alexa devices.
Matt Horan of C3IA solutions has explained how devices such as the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa can interpret personal discussions as commands and order items without your knowledge.
The expert revealed: "With Christmas approaching I can foresee many people answering doors to delivery drivers with packages that the person knows nothing about - and which their 'home helper' has ordered for them."
Although Amazon say any accidental purchases can be returned free of charge, Mr Horan said people need to be aware of how their technology works.
He said: "With Christmas approaching I can foresee many people answering doors to delivery drivers with packages that the person knows nothing about - and which their 'home helper' has ordered for them.
"Last year these virtual assistants were enormously popular Christmas presents and this year they might be ordering the families' presents themselves.
"If you do feel that life is so much better having your personal assistant, then are some safeguards you can take.
"The most sensible is to disable the voice purchasing element of the device, or at least set up a passcode.
"At least this way you will have some say so over what purchases you make rather than letting a machine on the kitchen worktop make ill-informed decisions on your behalf.
"And of course they can be turned off when you are having detailed discussions about potential items you might want.”
He added: "I know of an instance where a conversation was being held regarding what model of tent to buy and where from, with particular emphasis on the model and type and cost.
"Their virtual assistant listened in, referenced the store's on-line presence, searched for the details of the product to buy and as an added bonus dipped into the voice purchasing functions and ordered the tent - all this without the owner's knowledge.
"Fortunately, an automated text had been sent from the person's bank account advising of the purchase, which as you can imagine was somewhat of a shock."
Similar examples include a member of the Houses of Parliament discussing Syria, but their iPhone Siri system misheard the word and thought it was being activated.
In America, a TV presenter stated 'Alexa, order me a dolls house' and subsequently, many dolls houses soon appeared on viewers doorsteps.
So unless you want some surprise gifts this year - keep it quiet in front of your technology!