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Your smart speakers are always recording and listening, warn cybersecurity experts

Your smart speakers are always recording and listening, warn cybersecurity experts

Cybersecurity experts from VPNOverview investigated the privacy risks associated with owning a smart speaker and what you should do in order to protect your privacy.

Story highlights
  • A smart speaker provides great convenience, but also has certain privacy risks
  • Cybersecurity experts from VPNOverview investigated the privacy risks associated with owning a smart speaker
  • They also list out ways to protect your privacy.

Smart devices make living super convenient and allow you to take care of a lot of things with just the click of a button. From our phones to television sets and watches, almost every electronic device these days is capable of pulling off a number of tasks. Many households also use smart speakers, which can be controlled from a distance with your voice. All you have to do is start with a spoken command, and ask it to perform the task that you want. From dimming the lights to answering or declining phone calls on your behalf, there's a lot that can be done with smart speakers. However, these conveniences could come at a far greater cost than one could imagine- their privacy.

Cybersecurity experts from VPNOverview investigated the privacy risks associated with owning a smart speaker and what you should do in order to protect your privacy.

Smart speakers are always listening

Firstly, these speakers are always on because they have to wait for the audio command to turn their operations on. Thus, at times, the smart speaker may misinterpret certain words or phrases, and take action based on those. This can result in awkward messages/calls being made, purchasing unwanted items, performing unnecessary actions, and so on. In order to prevent this from happening, cybersecurity experts suggest always having the mic on mute. You can manually turn off your speaker's mic.

You also have the option to change the speaker's 'wake word', which is the word used to call out to the speaker in action (Example Ok Google, Hey Siri, Alexa etc). If you change the wake word to something uncommon, the risk of the speaker misinterpreting your words will be reduced.

Recording everything you say

Did you know that once you call out to your smart speaker, it records everything and saves it in its database? This happens so that the functionality of the device can be improved upon. To ensure that your data is safe, you can use the in-app settings of a smart speaker and change how your data is used.

Third-party software risks

There is a common misconception that when users are interacting with their smart speaker, their data is only collected by first-party developers (Amazon/Google/Apple etc.). In reality, certain commands and skills of the speaker are actually created by third-party developers which can pose some major threats as some of these third party developers are not 'thoroughly moderated, compared to skills provided by the manufacturer. Therefore, this can become a gateway for hackers, leading to leaks of information, as well as potential eavesdropping', experts say. A way to avoid this risk is by ensuring that you use only skills and software offered by the first-party developers. Using a VPN to add a layer of protection might also be considered.

Can lead to unwanted purchases

Amazon's Alexa has made life super easy for some people as they can use it to purchase groceries, household items and whatnot. However, anybody can use your smart speaker to make purchases which can result in money being deducted. To prevent this from happening, enable two-factor authorisation or two-step verification on your device so that in order to make a purchase, it requires a code that will be sent to your phone.

Published on: Jan 24, 2023, 4:56 PM IST
Posted by: BT Siteadmin, Jan 24, 2023, 4:54 PM IST