Shazam For Mac Is Always Listening For Tunes, Which Means Your Microphone Is Always On

Image courtesy of Eric BEAUME

Are you comfortable having your computer’s microphone on constantly? Shazam, a program that identifies the sound in songs, commercials, and TV shows for you, is always listening through your computer’s microphone in the program’s version for Mac computers. Is that a good or bad thing? It doesn’t necessarily mean that the app is listening in on you 24/7, but the idea may make you kind of uneasy.

The same functionality is part of Shazam’s apps for iOS and for Android, but users need to take action to turn it on first. That isn’t the case for the desktop version, which is simply always listening. Should that be okay with you? It depends.

Patrick Wardle, a former NSA hacker, developed a Mac program that tells users when their webcam and microphone are in use, and it told him that Shazam was using his microphone. He confirmed this with the company, and learned that they think it’s no big deal.

Your microphone is always listening and always activated when this mode is on, the company explained in a statement, but doesn’t process that audio until it’s needed, and never records it. That’s the same way that the Android app has worked for a ew months now, and the iOS app has worked for about three years. The key difference is that mobile users have to activate the always-listening mode, while desktop users’ microphones are always in use, even when the customer toggles the listening mode “off.”


While the company behind Shazam insists this isn’t a security risk or a big deal, it could be. “‘OFF’ should mean off,” he wrote in a blog post about the discovery (via Motherboard)” due to their actions, we could get creative [and] easily design a piece of malware that steals this [recording] without having to initiate a recording itself (which would likely generate an alert).” A common program like that would be a handy place to hide some malware, and you wouldn’t be able to turn it off.

Forget the NSA, it’s Shazam that’s always listening! [Objective See]

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