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“Hey Siri…”. “Alexa…”. These names and phrases have become a standard part of our lexicon in recent years. Digital assistants like Alexa and Siri are found in smart devices such as Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and Google Home. These voice activated devices can be used for a wide variety of tasks. You can control your TV or lights or set an alarm or timer. You can listen to music or ask for an answer to a question you might have. We know that these devices are always listening, but are smart devices spying on you?

Are Your Devices Capturing Too Much Personal Information?

When we ask if your smart devices are spying on you, we don’t mean to infer that the actual device or company behind them have any ill-intention. The concern lies in the fact that these devices are “always on”. This means that digital assistants always have to be listening in order to serve you when you call on them. It is also known that devices such as Amazon Echo do record your questions and Alexa’s responses. These recordings are stored until you manually delete them. Recordings should only start when the device keyword is spoken, according to the manufacturers. If they are recording at other times, we don’t know.

The storage of your recordings isn’t a negative trait, however. This feature can be a benefit in some cases, as we will elaborate on below.

Can Smart Devices Be Used By Criminals?

Digital assistants can complete many different tasks, as you read earlier. Some of the more concerning tasks that can be completed are locking and unlocking of doors, controlling security cameras and making purchases. These features can be a true convenience, but they also come with some risk. Findings have shown that digital assistants can be controlled by commands which are undetectable to the natural human ear. The fear is that commands can be embedded in recordings such as commercials or online videos which command your device to make a fraudulent purchase or unlock your doors.

Security cameras often have a “drop in” feature, which can allow a remote user to see a live feed of video footage from your cameras. This could be used to determine whether you are home or not, possibly aiding a break-in attempt.

Luckily, the feature of storing recordings can be of use as a security measure. If you find a suspicious recording, it can alert you of attempts to access your device.

How Do I Protect Myself?

  • Review the recordings saved by your device for anything suspicious. You can also delete recordings if you desire.
  • You can turn off the “drop in” feature to ensure no one can access your security camera feed.
  • Make sure your device is updated with the latest version. Security protections can be added in new updates, so staying up to date is important.
  • Set up strong security measures on your home WiFi.

Are smart devices spying on you? As far as we know, they aren’t spying. However, they are listening and recording. As long as you are aware of your security settings and keep an eye on things, digital assistants can be very helpful tools.

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