Bulgarian-Swiss Business Connection

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Last week, Centry supported the “Promoting business partnerships with Switzerland” forum, organized by the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce (BSCC) in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) Stara Zagora.

The main objective of the forum was to boost and develop business relations between Bulgarian and Swiss companies such as those already part of the BSCC Partnership Platform and other Bulgarian producers and service providers who plan on working with Swiss companies.

The information presented on Bulgarian-Swiss business relations issues and the role of BSCC in establishing sustainable partnerships between these companies served as the foundation of an interesting discussion during the event.

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For more information about the forum, please follow this link to the BSCC website! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to us on any of our social media platforms.

 

Valid Concern or Tap Anxiety? An Evaluation of Amazon’s Alexa Recording

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Alexa’s Infamous Recording

A couple weeks ago, a family from Portland, Oregon reached out to Amazon to investigate after they said that their home assistant device, “Alexa”, had apparently recorded audio of a conversation the couple was having and sent it to an acquaintance of the family who’s phone number was in their contact list. The acquaintance, a work colleague, immediately contacted the family to let them know that he received the recording, and told them to turn off their devices.

This led to a media frenzy, where countless sources questioned the security of home assistant devices, likening them to Orwellian wire-taps.

So, how did this happen?

When the family contacted Amazon concerning the incident, an engineer investigated the logs of the device and was able to confirm the recording and subsequent sending. The engineer suggested that the entire issue was a result of the device misinterpreting the sounds of the distant conversation as commands to record and then send the message.

The company’s official statement was:

“Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right”. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

Is this something to be genuinely concerned about?

In short, not really: the coverage of this situation was greatly sensationalized.

If you have ever “butt-dialed” someone from your mobile phone, this is not very much different of a circumstance. Accidental activation leads to a call or command.

Anyone who has one of these devices has probably heard it pipe up unprompted, whether it was from a distant conversation, the TV, radio, computer, etc. It’s important to remember that home assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are still first generation pieces of technology – they are learning on the go, and there is bound to be a few hiccups along the way. Human speech interpretation is very hard.

Both devices have large, easy to see indicators of when they are listening for the keyword. Alexa has a bright blue circle that illuminates on the top, and Google Home also lights up.

However, if you are still worried, here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Turn on command tones in the app. This makes the device “ding” when it hears the keyword, letting you know that it’s actively listening.
  2. Don’t ignore it when it speaks– tell it to stop. Otherwise, it could continue mishearing commands.
  3. Protect your WiFi network. These devices are only as secure as the network they connect to.
  4. Check in the app to see if there are any stored recordings, and delete them.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to us on any of our social media profiles. For more content like this, subscribe to Centry Blog for weekly articles!

Remembering Mr. Rachid Boukhari

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It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of our fellow colleague, Mr. Rachid Boukhari, 52, who died peacefully in his sleep last Saturday.

Rachid had eleven years of military service in the French Foreign Legion unit 2 REP with experience in combat operations and training in remote environments. He was straight, hardworking, and honest, and his service naturally led him down a career path in private security where he ultimately came to work with us at Centry in 2014.

Rachid worked as a Project Security Manager and Security Expert in some of our most challenging projects in remote locations in Yemen and Algeria. He was always proactive and willing to rise to a challenge.

We remember with admiration one occasion where, late in the evening, Rachid was comfortable at home in France, when he received a call from one of our colleagues asking him to be in Algeria in the morning to provide protection to one of our clients. Rachid went above and beyond to make extremely short-notice travel arrangements, and at the crack of dawn the following morning, he was there in Algeria ready to help. This story is just one example of the exemplary commitment Rachid had to helping others, particularly his colleagues in Centry.

We will remember Rachid as a true comrade, whose professionalism, loyalty, and expertise will be sorely missed. Rachid’s wife and two children who he left behind will have our continued support as we all grieve this loss.  Rachid’s funeral is taking place today, June 1st, in Maubeuge, France.