Is Your Amazon Smart Device Secure?

Smart speakers are everywhere, with an astonishing 801 million units shipped by 2020, and Amazon’s Alexa takes up a good percentage of this. Alexa is integrated into a wide array of devices and it’s more than likely that you have one. Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based voice service that is used across many of Amazon’s own product range. This ranges from the Amazon Echo smart speaker to the Fire TV streaming device.

The possibilities for Alexa integration are endless, and with more consumers wanting to make their homes ‘smart’, we can only see them getting more popular.

Is Alexa always listening?

A fear that many people have is that Alexa-enabled devices are listening to everything you do around your home and using this data against you. But is it actually?

The answer is yes, technically. As it is a listening device, the device is always waiting for a command to activate from the user. This is known as ‘keyword spotting’ technology, and Alexa will supposedly only process and record what it hears as Alexa commands. The device will wait for its ‘wake’ word (e.g. “Alexa”) to begin its functionality and assist the user. As helpful as Alexa devices are, you need to be wary as they may not be as safe as you think.

Amazon states that a very small sample of Alexa interactions are listened to by employees to understand a correct interpretation of the command, so there is the possibility that a human may listen to what you are sharing with the system. Fortunately, there is a way around this and we recommend opting out of this by turning it off in the Alexa settings on the device.

Hackers have been able to access Alexa devices and find out the data you have been sharing with the software. The BBC reported that there was:

A flaw in Amazon's Alexa smart home devices could have allowed hackers access to personal information and conversation history

Check Point Research

and Mashable reported that there have been major security flaws and that hackers could also install or delete Alexa Skills.

How can you stay safe?

If you do own an Alexa-enabled device, there are ways to ensure that you stay as safe as possible!

Ensure that you only buy your device from Amazon directly

We advise only buying from Amazon directly, as 3rd party sellers could tamper the device beforehand.

Never post videos or audio clips of you using your Alexa enabled device online

Hackers use these clips to control your device if it is located within a distance of them. Maybe think twice before posting that funny Alexa clip!

Check the Alexa Skills

As mentioned above, hackers have been able to modify Alexa Skills on the device. Make sure you regularly check the device to see if the correct and official applications are installed on the Amazon device and remove any device that you don’t trust.

Alexa-enabled Amazon devices can be helpful and make your life easier at home, but as with any form of technology, always be mindful of how it’s being used. Your online safety must always be your priority.

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