Can Alexa Be Hacked? What You Need to Know

Roman Janson Follow Apr 05, 2024 · 4 mins read
Can Alexa Be Hacked? What You Need to Know
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The rise of smart home technology has brought about a new era of convenience, allowing us to control everything from our lights to our security systems with just the sound of our voice. At the forefront of this revolution is Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant that has become a fixture in millions of homes around the world.

However, as the adoption of Alexa and other smart home devices has grown, so too have concerns about their security. Can Alexa be hacked? And if so, what are the potential consequences? Let’s take a closer look.

Local Amazon Echo Hacking

One method hackers have used to target Alexa devices is known as “smart bugging.” In 2017, a British hacker demonstrated how he was able to install malware on an Amazon Echo that turned it into a remote listening device (Barnes, 2017). Thankfully, this technique requires physical access to the device and is not something that can be done remotely, so the average user is likely not at risk.

Additionally, Amazon has made it significantly more difficult for hackers to tamper with Echo devices produced since 2017 (Barnes, 2017). So while this vulnerability did exist in the past, it appears to have been largely addressed by the company.

Audio Typo Squatting

Another area of concern is the potential for hackers to create fake Alexa “skills” - the voice-controlled apps that expand Alexa’s functionality. In 2018, researchers from Indiana University, the Chinese Academy of Science, and the University of Virginia discovered that by using accents and mispronunciations, they could trick Alexa into installing skills that mimicked popular services (Gatlin, 2018).

For example, instead of saying “Alexa, install Capital One,” a hacker could create a skill called “Capital Won” that Alexa would then install on the user’s device. These fake skills could then be used to collect personal information or carry out other malicious activities.

However, Amazon has policies in place to prevent skills from infringing on intellectual property rights, and the company says it continuously monitors live skills for potentially malicious behavior (Gatlin, 2018). Any offending skills are blocked during certification or quickly deactivated.

Laser Audio Injection

Another concerning vulnerability revealed by researchers is the potential for hackers to issue commands to Alexa and other smart home devices using lasers. Researchers from the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo and the University of Michigan found that by using the right light frequencies, they could remotely inject inaudible and invisible commands into voice assistants from up to 110 meters away (Sugawara et al., 2020).

In their study, the researchers were able to successfully use lasers to execute commands such as disabling smart locks and starting cars. However, there have been no reports of this technique being used in the real world, and users have various options, including PINs and muting the microphone, to prevent this type of attack.

Voice Faking

Finally, the growing sophistication of audio deepfake technology poses a potential threat to Alexa and other voice-controlled devices. As it becomes easier for hackers to stitch together recordings of a person’s voice, they could potentially use this to issue commands to Alexa that appear to come from the legitimate user (Gatlin, 2018).

Again, Amazon says it is constantly monitoring for these types of threats and improving its mechanisms to protect users. The company has not reported any instances of this type of attack being used successfully against Alexa users.

Protecting Your Alexa Devices

While the potential security risks of Alexa and other smart home devices are concerning, there are steps users can take to minimize their exposure:

  • Buy devices directly from Amazon to ensure they haven’t been tampered with (Gatlin, 2018).
  • Regularly check the Alexa skills installed on your devices to ensure they are legitimate (Gatlin, 2018).
  • Avoid placing smart devices near doors or other areas where they can be easily accessed by outsiders (Gatlin, 2018).
  • Refrain from posting videos of yourself giving commands to Alexa online, as this could provide hackers with valuable information (Gatlin, 2018).
  • Be selective about which smart home devices you connect to your network, prioritizing security over convenience (Gatlin, 2018).
  • While the threat of Alexa being hacked is real, it’s important to keep it in perspective. The company has taken significant steps to address known vulnerabilities, and the vast majority of users are unlikely to be targeted by sophisticated attacks.

By following best practices for smart home security, you can enjoy the benefits of Alexa while mitigating the risks.


Barnes, M. (2017). How I turned an Amazon Echo into a remote listening device. Retrieved from

Gatlin, B. (2018). Can Alexa Be Hacked? What You Need to Know. Retrieved from

Sugawara, T., Cyr, B., Rampazzi, S., Genkin, D., & Fu, K. (2020). Light commands: Laser-based audio injection attacks on voice-controllable systems. In 29th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 20) (pp. 2631-2648).

Written by Roman Janson Follow
Senior News Editor at