Paranoid privacy tool can jam your smart speaker’s microphone

With smart home devices proliferating, the secondary effect of privacy is becoming a concern. While a majority of consumers are not paying attention to proper security practices when installing a smart device, unrest is burning in those who are.

Paranoid Inc., a subsidiary to the Alberta-based Pleasant solutions, is extra vigilant on disabling smart homes’ prying ears. To improve the privacy of smart speakers, it has created an attachment that physically blocks the microphone from activating.

Paranoid comes in three configurations. First, there’s the Paranoid Home Button, the most intuitive solution. When plugged in, it holds down the microphone’s mute button unless the user announces the “Paranoid” wake-word. There’s just one caveat: the device must have a physical mute button for the robotic arm to press on. An example of a compatible product is the Amazon Echo Dot.

Paranoid Home Button looks like a tadpole and connects to the smart speaker’s USB port. Image source: Paranoid

But it’s Paranoid Home Wave where it gets really interesting. For smart speakers without a home button, users can opt for the Paranoid Home Wave. In what resembles a military operation, the Paranoid Home Wave generates noise and interference to jam the smart speaker’s microphone. The user must give Paranoid’s wake word to stop its jamming and issue the voice command.

For the ultra-cautious crowd, Paranoid offers the Home Max. It isn’t a device, per se, but more of a service where you ship off your smart speaker to be lobotomized. Paranoid techs physically re-routes the speaker’s microphone circuitry through a Paranoid’s device. In the event that the smart speaker receives an update that prevents the Paranoid Home Max alteration from working, Paranoid would simply release a follow-up update that would work around the issue.

Paranoid Home Max essentially hijacks your smart speaker’s circuitry.

In its press release, Paranoid guarantees that Paranoid would never connect to the internet and that it lacks the components to do so.

Paranoid updates are distributed via music files played through any regular speaker. In an email, a Paranoid engineer assured IT Business that the audio data would be encrypted and signed. In addition, the Paranoid module can only receive and not transmit.

Paranoid aims to outfit its attachment to every major brand of smart speakers. They’ll first be available in Canada and the U.S. for $49 each or $129 for a pack of three.

Correction: The original article incorrectly stated that the Paranoid Home Button needed to be physically pressed. Instead, it’s deactivated via voice command. The article has been amended to reflect the update. 

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT Business. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at [email protected].

Featured Story

How the CTO can Maintain Cloud Momentum Across the Enterprise

Embracing cloud is easy for some individuals. But embedding widespread cloud adoption at the enterprise level is...

Related Tech News

Get ITBusiness Delivered

Our experienced team of journalists brings you engaging content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives delivered directly to your inbox.

Featured Tech Jobs