With Amazon selling nine times as many Echo devices this holiday season than the last, more and more people are shouting, “Alexa,” to fulfill a variety of modern-day wants and needs. Pretty soon that matt black cylinder with the pretty blue lights will be just another household appliance. With its seven piece microphone array the Amazon Echo is always listening, and once it hears the wake word it records your commands and uploads them to Amazon’s server, many believe it records much more than that. Authorities in Bentonville Arkansas recently issued a warrant for Amazon to turn over the uploaded recordings of a suspect from their server to help them solve a case. Though Amazon refused, they did give the police some information. Amazon may not hand everything over to everyday police officers, but according to some they are an open book of information when it comes to the NSA. A seasoned hacker by the name of Seamus Murphy claims that he has discovered the backdoor programmed into the Echo operating system specifically for the NSA. Murphy explains:
The Echo is any surveillance agencies wet dream come true. Imagine if the Abwehr had this technology in the 1930’s, or if the KGB had it in the 1980’s, can you imagine what they would’ve done with it? Now realize that the NSA is utilizing the Echo just as you’re imagining the way their surveillance predecessors did. I think some people realize that government agencies could use Alexa to spy on them if they wanted to. Though most people don’t really think about that kind of stuff, or they’re completely ignorant of that fact and would be more than happy to trade in their privacy for a top forty song on command, even if they had the choice. Those who seek to rule us are quite deceitful, their job becomes easy when the tools to keep us in order are sold to us as must have toys of the new age. Thoughts like that are the reason I set out to prove that the Amazon Echo is a direct link to Big Brother. After about a month of throwing commands at the Echo while recording its responses I finally hit pay dirt when it replied back to me after saying a very specific phrase. It said, “OPSEC cleared, GCHQ remote user access point DBMS, Joint SigInt Activity awaiting PRISM clearance phrase.” Of the many things I recorded, that was the smoking gun. In plain English Echo replied back; “security has been cleared, Government Communications Headquarters remote login for data management, awaiting PRISM surveillance personnel login information.” I didn’t try to access the system, I’m not sure what will come of all of this, I may disappear, or the government may just overlook it as a fluke and not mess with me. Either way I’m glad I found it though I won’t attempt to gain entry into their server, and I wont share the phrase that brought me to the NSA access point.
Seamus Murphy didn’t disappear nor did the government overlook his programming skills as a fluke. Shortly after Murphy told his story he wound up in a psychiatric hospital after authorities claimed that he had lost his mind and tried to kill himself and several others in his neighborhood with a large homemade explosive. Since his admission into a mental institute he has not spoken to anyone in the outside world including his family as his caretakers claim it may severally damage him. Murphy’s family claim that Seamus is of sound mind and has been falsely committed since he discovered the NSA exploit in the Amazon Echo. His family also states that he never could have constructed a bomb as he knew little about engineering anything, and that he has an immense fear of fire. Seamus will not be released until his mental health is cleared by a psychiatrist.