(RACHEL, NV) Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) was the surprising recipient of highly sensitive information about a new Google headquarters outside Area 51. Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) declined to comment on the matter further, but released a short statement describing the incident as a “data malfunction” rather than a data breach “as it did not relate to customer information”.
Henry Brown, a fulfilment executive at the at the Seattle-based retailer, recently asked his Google Home Mini, “where are we building our new headquarters?”. What then followed gave an unprecedented indication of just how complex the inner workings of the search engine are. Rather than search the internet for the answer, Google Assistant responded with the secret new location of Google’s own headquarters. Which, it turns out, is to be built just outside of the famous Area 51.
Google rushed to close the security loophole, which was explained in further detail in an official-looking statement. “The cause of this error is a misinterpretation of the word ‘our’. Usually the Assistant would interpret ‘our’ in context, trawling through the person’s search history, location data, and other private information to determine what they meant. In this particular case, adding the word ‘we’ to the sentence caused the Assistant to interpret the question as if they worked at Google. It’s quite a simple mistake, really.” The vulnerability has since been closed.
When probed on whether the Assistant has access to confidential internal memos at Google, a spokesperson responded, “Not usually. We have access to most information on the planet, but that doesn’t mean we automatically let Assistant access everything. After all, why would we be building anything near Area 51?”
Brown went on to ask his Home Mini several other questions on a range of topics, mostly conspiracy theories about JFK and the moon landing. “I really can’t say too much, but the answers I got were astounding.” Google re-iterated that just because its new headquarters were outside Area 51, it didn’t have access to classified military information, “any answers from the Assistant were in no way connected with classified information which may have been provided to us.”