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How to Recognize When Your Smart Speaker Is Eavesdropping

Posted by Roger Carson

There’s a good chance you’re using a smart speaker right now—and if you are, it’s probably an Amazon Echo. Smart speakers are the new kid on the block, and they’re already starting to make inroads in the consumer market. But which one is the best one for you? That answer depends on a variety of factors, and you may not know what they are until you find yourself in a sticky situation.

It’s not a secret that smart speakers have been recording conversations for their users. But how can you tell if the device is actually listening to you? The best way to tell if your smart speaker is listening is to determine how you can set the device never to listen. Here are some tips for recognizing when your smart speaker is eavesdropping.

You need to check the Privacy and Security Features

When you buy a new smart speaker, chances are you’ll want to keep it a secret. But your smart speaker is no longer a discreet digital assistant: it’s a digital listener and a bug detector, too. Some of the best features are built-in, like the ability to detect if you’ve just been turned into a certain song on Pandora or if the heat from your body is being emitted in a particular pattern—and these features are built into the newest Amazon Echo and Google Home devices.

Many people have smart speakers that they have installed in their homes, but few take the time to check their privacy settings. They leave these devices listening all day and all night, just waiting to hear a familiar voice say “Hey Alexa” or “OK, Google.” You need to check this, but also make sure you are comfortable with all the information that Google and Amazon are collecting about you.

Be wary in Connecting your Smart Home Devices

In the age of the smart home and the smart home speaker, many new devices are being developed and sold to help us make our homes smarter. From smart locks and lights to thermostats and speakers, these devices are helping us become more connected to our homes and allow us to automate, manage and control our devices in new ways. However, these new devices also have the potential to spy on us, as they can be turned on and off by anyone and recorded by third-party applications. As each of these devices is made by different manufacturers, we can’t just assume that the manufacturer has the best interest of their users at heart.

Install Cybersecurity Measures

It’s easy to feel comfortable with your home network by default, especially if you’ve been using it for some time. Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo are taking over the world by storm. Unfortunately, they have a major security problem, whereby the voice-activated speakers and other connected electronics turn a blind eye to the security of information stored on them. There are two ways to protect your data when you use a smart speaker. First, you can simply disconnect your smart speaker from any network and then connect to it using a wired connection, like a USB cord. Second, you can invest in a smart speaker security device, such as our Total Security for Home, which has a built-in hardware firewall that encrypts all the data that is being transmitted.

In earlier versions of the Amazon Echo, all of a sudden, it would start recording what you said and then send that recording to Amazon. Amazon later fixed the problem, but the incident highlighted the dangers of relying on a speaker as a personal assistant since everyone’s words are recorded and sent to a company.

If you’re worried your smart speaker is spying on you, you’re not alone. A growing number of people believe their smart devices are listening to everything they say, and that’s prompted some to install privacy software that can block some of these devices from recording. But the fact is, it’s not that simple. Smart speakers are a new type of technology, and while they’re able to listen to people, they can’t always tell who’s talking to them.

 

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