Microsoft says Vista speech recognition is safe

Written by Brett Thomas

February 1, 2007 | 21:10

Tags: #speech #vista

Companies: #microsoft

The concept of Vista's new and improved speech recognition features have been getting some odd looks lately. The tool isn't just useful for controlling your PC while you're not at the keyboard, it seems. It's also a good tool for a hacker to control it for you - at least, that's been the claim from security companies. Microsoft has finally come out to answer them, though, stating that Vista's speech recognition is secure.

Mostly.

It turns out, the security guys aren't totally all wet. However, it is certainly nowhere near as dangerous a claim as it was originally made out to be. First, it relies on users having the feature active and both a microphone and speakers on and in a favourable position. With that being assumed, some companies have had limited success with MP3 recordings that have either deleted files or sent a computer to a new web address, but the results are erratic and sometimes just downright awful.

As a form of dedicated troublemaking, it seems like this threat is minimal right out of the gate, and bound to be only less reliable as Microsoft gets to fixing it. Though the company assures users that it is taking the claims seriously, the boys at Redmond have already outlined the myriad tasks that cannot be done through speech recognition just based on the hotly discussed UAC, or User Access Control. Internet critics aren't entirely buying it, though, saying that once some zero-day workarounds to the UAC become plausible, this could turn into a whole lot larger problem than MS anticipated.

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