It is common for Apple buffs to blow the Siri trumpet. They say the voice-activated assistant saves a lot of time and in turn enhances their productivity. Well, guess what? Now it also acts like iPhone spyware for all practical purposes.
Okay so the deal is, your voice input data that is supposed to interact with Siri is sent to a North Carolina based facility in the US. Apple has claimed that this data collection is being used to enhance the voice recognition of Siri – basically it is being touted as a quality improving move, while it is being conveniently ignored that the menace that accompanies this maneuver is pretty huge.
Here’s a question: if Apple is tracking this data via Siri only for the enhancement of the quality of its own products, why did it not keep things on the shush side, instead of divulging it in the open for the iPhone hackers’ benefit. Even the software license agreement for iPhone 4S carries the notification that through Siri the users consent to the company’s “transmission, collection, maintenance, processing” among other use of the information – which includes user data and yes, voice input.
The head of the developing team of the original Siri app, Edward Wrenbeck, has been quick to downplay the apprehension regarding Apple’s faux pas. He claims that since the iPhone spyware is already well and truly in the Apple mix and that data tracking has become something pretty normal, hence it “isn’t something to worry about”. However, he did acknowledge the fact that “maybe”, Siri was in fact making things easier for iPhone hackers; but he stayed adamant that no new path was created via Siri that didn’t already exist.
So while noises being generated from Apple continue to peddle the whole episode as not that big a deal, IBM simply refused to buy that. The company in fact banned Siri from all staff iPhones amid concerns that it would be playing the part of employee monitoring software, with the hacker instead of the employer at the other end of this spying game. The fact that Siri records the voice, and sends it to a server for interpretation, means that a lot can be done by the hackers to dig out this data or indeed modify at the company’s expense. Think of it as employee monitoring software; only the data is being extracted out of the office realm this time around.
Another thing that particularly perturbs IBM is the idea that Apple would have access to its data. Leaking out secrets to Apple is not a thought that IBM finds particularly amusing and hence shutting up shop on Siri was the logical course of action for the company.
As Apple nears the iPhone 5 release, the security concerns are hiking up almost in synchrony with the anticipation surrounding the company’s next device. Apple’s defense mechanism needs a lot of beefing up if it wants to maintain its stranglehold on the smart phone market; especially since the tech world is going nuts over Samsung Galaxy SIII, which has been doing a remarkable job at forcing aficionados to switch allegiance.
Natalia David, a blogger by profession an author significantly contributes towards PC and Cell Phone security, mobile spy and iPhone spy software. If you want to know more about Natalia you can follow her on twitter @NataliaDavid4