The Talking Dead: A Gateway to Scams?

Scams by text and email, as well as data breaches, have become a regular part of our daily lives. Often, we make ourselves vulnerable by sharing personal information. Whether it is for shopping online or home automation, we open ourselves up to vulnerabilities on a regular basis. In June, Amazon announced a project that, while may be well-intentioned, may present yet another way for people to be taken advantage of.

Intended to help people cope with the loss of a loved one, the project allows for people to have conversations with the dead. With a sample of roughly sixty seconds of one’s voice, Alexa will be able to mimic the voice of a person. When the announcement was made, it was emphasized that this would not, “eliminate the pain of loss,” but would provide a form of therapy and coping for those who are experiencing such loss.

With so many feeling comfortable storing their personal and credit card information with Amazon, there is no doubt adding voice samples for this experience will occur and others may upload voice samples for customization to hear a voice other than Alexa’s. The real question is what happens should these samples be compromised.

A variant on the common text message scam of someone asking you to purchase gift cards for which you will be reimbursed could very well come in the form of a recognizable voice asking the same. Those who are dealing with loss and struggling to move on from such loss may be more susceptible to such exploitation, especially those who are not technology savvy.

Of course, that is just a basic example. Should someone compromise these voice samples and the AI that allows for the creation of conversation responses, it could be used for phone scams, contribute to deepfake audio and video, or perhaps be used for overriding voice authentication systems. In these cases, the threats would not be limited to Alexa devices, but would carry over into other threat vectors and, if paired with other relevant data points and information, those affected could range from an individual to an entire organization.


AI, cyber security


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