How a few words to Siri unlocked a man’s front door, exposing a flaw Apple needs to fix

“A month ago, Marcus, a 31-year-old man living in Springfield, Missouri, decided to go all in on the smart home. A diehard fan of the Apple AAPL -0.27% ecosystem, he began outfitting his house with gadgets certified as ‘Works with Apple HomeKit,’ Apple’s proprietary communication standard for controlling third-party smart home devices with iOS and its intelligent voice assistant, Siri,” Aaron Tilley reports for Forbes. “At first, everything worked flawlessly. His front door would automatically unlock as he walked up to his house when his phone got within a certain distance. The lights would brighten gradually after he woke up. ‘I work long, 10-hour days,’ said Marcus, who asked that his full name not be used, in an phone interview on Monday. ‘Having things automated lets me sleep better. For the month I’ve been using this stuff, I love it.'”

“But there was one big problem lurking below the surface of his Jetsonian setup. Marcus had placed an iPad Pro in his living room to serve as a central, voice-controlled hub for his smart home,” Tilley reports. “He used it basically as an Apple version of the Amazon Echo, a tube-shaped smart speaker that’s powered by Amazon’s intelligent voice assistant, Alexa. Without pressing a button, he could say things like, ‘Hey Siri, dim the lights,’ and the lights around him would dim. By placing the iPad in the living room, he could control the August Smart Lock too over a Bluetooth connection. He was so jazzed by his setup that he invited over his neighbor, Mike, to check it out.”

“Last Friday morning, as Marcus was pulling out of the driveway, Mike walked up with a grin asking if he could borrow some flour. Marcus responded sure and started to get out of the car to let him in,” Tilley reports. “But before Marcus could do anything, his neighbor said, ‘I’ll let myself in,’ and ran over to the front door. He then shouted, ‘Hey Siri, unlock the front door.’ The door unlocked.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As the article points out, turning on the iPad’s passcode would defeat the purpose, but Appel cam simply do what Amazon has already done with the Echo: “Users can lock the door and check on the status of the door through Alexa, but they can’t unlock it.”

How about adding some granularity, Apple, please?


  1. How about stop repeating bullsheet stories? I read the original and there are way to many holes in the story. It’s a friend of a friend I know somebody heard about from their cousin’s neighbor blah blah blah.

    1. Yeah, I wonder, Marcus, no last name. I’d love to see a video of this actually working. So how did Aaron Tilley confirm this story? For real journalists, one source is not enough.

      It seems to me that Marcus is asking his iPad to do something the system was not designed to do. But I suspect Apple will fix this pretty soon.

      He should get an iPhone 7 with Ear Pods and turn off the iPad.

      1. And another thing, can anyone recreate this? Go in the next room and say Hey Siri, send a text and see if it responds. Then go outside and try it. Again, seems fake to me.

        I could see having the August app to unlock the door on your iphone but why the ipad? Unless your in the habit of taking your ipad with you when you go out it would seem pointless/redundant.

        Sounds like someone’s trying to hard to create a story where there isn’t one…

        1. I don’t think the guy intended to open his front door with the iPad. It was just an unintended consequence of linking the iPad to HomeKit for everything else.

          Perhaps Apple could require TouchID to confirm things like unlocking doors or starting cars but locking the door or turning off the car could be done without TouchID confirm.

    1. EXACTLY the same point I made in the comments section of the “story” at this morning.

      My voice does not set off “Hey Siri” on anyone else’s iPhone. I’ve been in friends houses who have Amazon Echos and yes, Alexa will respond to anyone who calls her name. But Siri needs to be trained to react to a specific voice.

  2. I see several problems with this story.
    -Why have the locks voice command at all?
    -Having smart locks fine but disconnect form home kit so Siri doesn’t have access to them.
    -If he must have locks on voice command passcode lock the damn iPad when not home.then unlock the iPad once he gets home to have access to everything.
    Leaving a unlocked iPad laying around seems very insecure regardless if he is home or not.

  3. How many times are you guys going to misspell the name of the company that you are supposed to be fans of? Appel? The Apple dictionary says that that is the name of a Dutch painter and sculptor. What would happen if you were professional? What would happen if you strove for excellence like Apple does?

  4. I assume MDM was deliberate, be delicious if it weren’t mind..

    Assuming any truth in that story I don’t think that just stopping voice command to open the door is the ideal solution, it would actually be great if when you have arms full of things (me most days) you could ask the door to open by voice, surely thats part of the appeal of such technology. How you make it totally secure is the apparent problem here and how solvable it is. Maybe retina scan could be one solution though voice recognition if it is fool proof seems the best even if allied with some further check mechanism for something Siri would recognise as so serious security issue. How you do that is probably the real issue.

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