How To Secure Alexa And Protect Your Privacy
Delete your voice recordings.
Amazon gives you full control over your voice recordings. You can view, hear, and delete them individually, all at once, or automatically from within the Alexa app . Or simply ask: Alexa, how do I review my privacy settings?
Dont save future voice recordings.
Your voice history includes everything Alexa has recorded and saved to your account. You can review and listen to any interactions your Echo recorded and even see how Alexa responded. In your settings, you can choose not to have Alexa save any of your voice recordings.
Mute the microphone.
Another way to stop Alexa from listening and recording everything you say is to mute your Echo devices microphone. Muting Alexa means you wont be able to make impromptu requests, but it also means your conversations cant be recorded by Amazon or anyone else.
Whenever you want Alexa to stop listening, press the mute button on any Echo device to turn off the microphone. A red light will display signalling that the microphone is disabled, and Alexa wont be able to eavesdrop or record anything you say.
Secure your Wi-Fi network.
The most effective way to secure Alexa and make sure no one else can eavesdrop is to use antivirus software to shore up the security measures protecting all your connected devices and that starts with securing the Wi-Fi network at your home. Installing a powerful antivirus tool will help you monitor security holes to keep intruders and other threats off your network.
Busting The 4 Biggest Myths About Amazons Alexa
In the 1950s, a movie executive predicted that interest in a new technologythe televisionwould dwindle after six months. In the 1970s, the chairman of a computer manufacturing company asserted that no one would actually want a computer in their home. And in the 1990s, one economist declared that the impact of the internet would be no greater than that of fax machines.
Emerging technologies often face scepticism, especially if it isnt immediately clear how they work or what benefit they serve. The same goes for voice assistants like Alexa. Aspects of how they work are sometimes still misunderstood.
Were addressing a few common myths and demystifying how Alexa works. Heres what you need to know:
Don’t Put Alexa Near A Sink
If you’re trying to drown out the sounds of Alexa’s voice, then, by all means, place your expensive Echo by a sink. However, if you want to keep it intact, never place it anywhere near water.
You don’t want to risk your kitchen water sprayer going haywire and soaking your Echo device, or a tall device getting tipped into the sink. Instead, place it on a different counter, like a kitchen island, or tuck it into a corner where it’s farther from splattering spaghetti sauce and water spray. It’ll stay cleaner and might sound better, too.
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Is Alexa Always Listening To Me
Yes, Alexa is always listening to you. Your Amazon Echo or other similar devices have built-in microphones that always listen to the sounds around them for the trigger, or wake, word. However, this does not mean that the device is always recording you. Recording initiates only after the wake word is detected.
The company claims that this has nothing to do with the intention of spying on users. This feature aims to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the device to respond to your commands as quickly as possible.
Artificial intelligence employed in this voice assistant also gets to know the user better by gathering data and tracking it. It makes the Echo device smart enough to know the users preferences and other relevant information that would help it provide a better service as an assistant.
Myth : Alexa Is Recording Everything I Say All The Time
Fact: By default, Echo devices are designed to record audio only after the device detects your chosen wake word .
Until your Echo device detects your chosen wake wordcurrent options include Alexa, Amazon, Echo, Ziggy, and ComputerAlexa does not record or store what you or any other person in the room has said. This is made possible by built-in technology called keyword spotting that matches spoken audio to the wake words acoustic patterns. Echo devices are designed to listen for the sound waves of the wake word while ignoring everything else. This is why your device can detect the wake word without listening in on your personal conversations.
Customers will always know when Alexa is listening to their request. Echo smart speakers have a blue light indicator that glows when the device is listening and an optional audio tone. In the Alexa app, a blue light indicator bar appears at the bottom of the phone screen when Alexa is listening.
For added peace of mind, the microphones can be manually turned off on all Echo devices. A red light will appear when the microphones have been disconnected and cannot detect audio. Learn more: Explore how Alexa works.
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Can You Use Alexa As A Spy Camera
The Echo Show increases the functionality of a regular Echo or Echo Dot smart speaker by adding a built-in camera and a screen that comes in different widths.
You can use the camera to make video calls, check in on your home whilst youre away and drop in on your other Alexa devices or contacts at the touch of a button.
As the name suggests, Alexas drop in feature allows you to drop in on your contacts Alexa devices unannounced and vice versa.
Unlike Alexa-to-Alexa calls, drop-ins dont need you to answer by accepting or rejecting the call the feature allows both video calls and voice calls to connect automatically.
Whilst this handy feature does have its perks, it does also cause some privacy concerns amongst Alexa device owners, especially for those with an Echo Show, which has a built-in camera.
Fortunately, Alexa will always announce when someone drops in on your device by making a distinct ringing noise and displaying a flashing green light.
Provided you are within hearing distance of any of your Alexa devices, youll know someone is dropping in, and so they wont be able to spy on you without you knowing.
Having said that, there is a chance one of your approved drop-in contacts could spy on you via your Echo Show camera. If you happened to be out of the room when they dropped in, youd miss the notification and could come back into the room unaware someone can watch you.
Misadventures In Alexa Privacy Have You Heard About These
You may have heard the story about the time Alexa sent a recording of a private conversation between a married couple in Portland to one of the husbands employees. Or the story about the same thing happening to a family in Germany with the recording being sent to one of the husbands business contacts. Or when it happened to a man in North Carolina whose conversation was sent to his insurance agent. Fortunately, there wasnt anything negative or embarrassing in those conversations but the Alexa owners were certainly shocked.
Another time a 6-year-old ordered a dollhouse and some fancy cookies from Amazon her parents had no idea until the packages were delivered. And still another time, coders wanted to test the security of the Alexa Skills system by turning a Skill into an eavesdropping tool and it worked .
Other times Alexa does exactly what its supposed to respond to a command that follows the wake word but it turns out to be a misadventure anyway. For example, NPR did a news story on Alexa. When people had the story playing within earshot of an Alexa device, Alexa dutifully woke up and followed the commands featured in the NPR report. Thermostats far and wide were adjusted to 70 degrees.
While these examples didnt have serious consequences, the potential is there. And so are other privacy concerns.
All the more reason to understand what Alexa is recording and how you can manage it.
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Is Alexa Always Listening Is Your Smart Speaker Spying On You
Does your Echo smart speaker listen to your conversations
If you own an Alexa smart speaker, whether it’s a cheap Echo Dot, a high-end Echo Studio or even a third-party Alexa speaker like the Sonos One, you may have wondered from time to time: Is Alexa always listening to me?
The short answer is yes, Alexa is always listening to you. Or rather the microphone on your Alexa smart speaker is always active and is constantly monitoring voices in your home in order to hear its wake word.
If your Echo speaker wasnt always listening theres no way it would hear your commands starting Alexa .
You can, of course, disable the microphone on your smart speaker and make it that you need to push a button to activate Alexa but thats not really the point of having a voice assistant on hand, is it?
Is Your Amazon Echo Spying On You
The all-new Amazon Echo
Amazon’s Echo smart speaker is the latest must-have gadget but experts warn it may not be as safe as you think.
The speaker lets you control a virtual assistant called Alexa using your voice, but hackers were able to exploit its design to snoop on all of your conversations.
Privacy is at the core of the Echo’s design: Amazon only picks up your speech if you say the word “Alexa” out loud.
But hackers proved that if they could get physical access to an speaker, they could easily spy on anyone speaking near an Echo.
A team of security experts from China’s Tencent corporation demonstrated the attack at a hacker convention this weekend.
“After several months of research, we successfully break the Amazon Echo by using multiple vulnerabilities in the Amazon Echo system, and remote eavesdropping,” the hackers told Wired.
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Is Alexa Always Listening How To Protect Your Privacy
If you have a smart device with Amazon Alexa, you may wonder whether Alexa listens to everything you say, if it spies on you, and what gets recorded. Is Alexa listening and is that a privacy concern? Learn if Alexa really is eavesdropping, how to stop it, and why a comprehensive security solution can help keep you safe.
How To Delete Past Recordings From Cloud
Follow the six steps below to delete past Alexa recordings that have been stored on the Amazon cloud.
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How To Find Your Alexa Recordings
Alexa records snippets of everything you say to her, so you’ll have loads of audio files in your app.
But Amazon helpfully flags the recordings that it thinks weren’t meant for Alexa’s ears.
First, open the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.
Tap into the menu bar on the left-hand side and then tap Settings.
Next tap Alexa Privacy, and then go into Review Voice History.
This is where you can check up on all of the voice recordings Alexa has captured for you.
To listen to the Alexa recordings, simply tap the text you want to hear, and then click the tiny Play icon.
Sometimes Alexa will flag when it thinks an audio recording wasn’t intended her.
The text won’t display in that instance, but you can still listen to the audio file.
To find these accidental recordings, just look for: “Audio was not intended for this device.”
Is Alexa Recording All Of Your Conversations
Even if Alexa doesn’t save everything you say, it does collect enough data to understand your voice. Amazon claims that it uses this information to make its devices better and more accurate. While it’s true that the more data a device has, the better it gets at understanding your requests, some people just want to be sure they are in control of their own privacy and security.
In 2016, The Information reported that Arkansas police had asked Amazon for data from an Echo device in order to help prosecute a suspect. While it is understandable that police need help in investigating certain cases, it does rather suggest that smart speakers—including Amazon Echo devices— gather unsettling amounts of data.
In a similar incident from 2018, Kiro 7 reported that an Amazon Echo device had recorded a couple’s conversation and sent it to one of the husband’s employees. Amazon has since stated that this was an extremely unusual set of circumstances, and nothing like this should ever happen again.
While these seem like unique occurrences, there are still some concerns about how much data these devices may store without you knowing.
Regardless, there’s no denying that smart speakers are revolutionizing the way we interact with technology. Still, only time will tell how much freedom of privacy consumers will have to sacrifice in this new era of dangerous tech trends.
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The Privacy Problem Nobody Wants To Fix
In recent conversations, half a dozen technology and privacy experts told me that we need stronger privacy laws to tackle some of these problems with Alexa. The amount of your personal data that an Echo collects is bound by , and the United States lacks strong federal privacy legislation, like Europes General Data Protection Regulation . In other words, the companies that are building voice assistants are more or less making the rules.
So I find myself circling back to a few questions. Whos looking after the users? Why cant I opt in to letting Amazon record my commands instead of wading through privacy settings looking for ways to stop sending my data to Amazon? And why are my options for opting out limited?
In the Alexa privacy settings, you can opt out of letting Amazon use your recordings to develop new features and improve transcriptions. You cannot opt out of allowing Amazon to retain your recordings for other purposes.
Settings like these put the onus on the user to protect their own privacy. If that has to be the case, why cant these companies make my interactions with voice assistants completely anonymous?
Speech technology has gotten so good, it is important to be worried about privacy, said Dr. Mari Ostendorf, an electrical engineering professor and speech technology expert at the University of Washington. And I think that probably companies are more worried about it than the U.S. government is.
Can I Listen In On Alexa From My Phone
As well as using an Alexa device such as an Echo smart speaker to drop in on other Alexa enabled devices, you can also access the drop-in feature via the Alexa app.
The Alexa app is the control centre for all your Alexa devices and where you would head to whenever you want to manage your device or account settings.
You can drop in on your own Alexa devices or one of your contacts devices from the app by selecting the Conversations icon from the home screen and tapping Drop In, which will show you a list of all your Echo devices and Alexa contacts that have chosen to allow you to drop in on them.
Choose the contact or Alexa device youd like to drop in on, and youll be connected within a few seconds.
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Should You Unplug Alexa At Night To Avoid Getting Recorded
Yes, we suggest that you should. Alexa may be activated during the night while you are asleep if it incorrectly interprets any background noise as the wake word. This could be a purring cat, a crying baby or a ringing phone- you never know. You may also be highly susceptible to malicious actions by hackers during the night.
Hackers may take advantage of your inattention at night to hack into your Echo device or gain access to your data during this time. Hackers who have already hacked into it may make changes to your device, such as download malicious skills or modify existing ones to their benefit.
Although all of this is plausible during the day as well, you may be at a greater risk at night as you may not notice something strange about your device or activities taking place within your Alexa application.
Alexa Is A Data Hoarder
When Alexa hears a command and sends those words up to the cloud, Amazon has just learned something about you. Maybe the company learned only that you like to listen to the Police, or that you like fart jokes, or that you turn your Hue lights off at 11 p.m. every night. If you were to say, Alexa, where should I bury the body? youre not going to have the police showing up at your door .
Is it important that Amazon is collecting this information? Thats up to you to decide. Your computer is tracking everything you do online through cookies. Google knows everything youve ever searched for, and also everything youve ever bought when you used a Gmail address. Your broadband provider may be selling your browsing and location history to third parties, and Netflix knows you like torture, horror, and cooking shows . Primarily, Amazon wants to sell you stuff. Lots of stuff. So when you use a workout skill with your Echo, dont be surprised if Amazon sends you an email promoting yoga pants .
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