Exploring Authentication for Security-Sensitive Tasks on Smart Home Voice Assistants

Authors: 

Alexander Ponticello, Matthias Fassl, and Katharina Krombholz, CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security

Abstract: 

Smart home assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home are primarily used for day-to-day tasks like checking the weather or controlling other IoT devices. Security-sensitive use cases such as online banking and voice-controlled door locks are already available and are expected to become more popular in the future.

However, the current state-of-the-art authentication for smart home assistants consists of users saying low-security PINs aloud, which does not meet the security requirements of security-sensitive tasks. Therefore, we explore the design space for future authentication mechanisms.

We conducted semi-structured interviews with N = 16 Alexa-users incorporating four high-risk scenarios. Using these scenarios, we explored perceived risks, mitigation strategies, and design-aspects to create secure experiences. Among other things, we found that participants are primarily concerned about eavesdropping bystanders, do not trust voice-based PINs, and would prefer trustworthy voice recognition. Our results also suggest that they have context-dependent (location and bystanders) requirements for smart home assistant authentication. Based on our findings, we construct design recommendations to inform the design of future authentication mechanisms.

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BibTeX
@inproceedings {274461,
author = {Alexander Ponticello and Matthias Fassl and Katharina Krombholz},
title = {Exploring Authentication for {Security-Sensitive} Tasks on Smart Home Voice Assistants},
booktitle = {Seventeenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2021)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-25-0},
pages = {475--492},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/soups2021/presentation/ponticello},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,
}

Presentation Video