You’ve probably heard about smart speakers and how they can help you in your daily life. You might even have one of these devices in your home or office. But have you ever wondered what your smart speaker is listening to? The answer may surprise you.
Millions of people have smart speakers in their homes or offices. These devices, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home, make life easier by allowing you to order groceries, adjust the thermostat, or play music with your voice.
You may be surprised to learn that your smart speaker always listens to you, even when it doesn’t appear active. These devices constantly capture sounds and transmit them through internet-connected microphones and speakers. This means your device can hear you even if it’s not playing music or answering a question—and even from a distance!
When you say “Hey Google,” or “Alexa” (or some other wake word), and your device hears it, it begins recording your voice and then sends that recording to its cloud servers, where it’s processed by machine learning algorithms that convert words into text. The device then sends this text to your speaker so that it knows what command you gave.
The always-listening aspect is also the reason many are concerned about privacy. By having a smart speaker in the home, you’re potentially letting thousands of employees hear your private conversations. And that can be dangerous.
There are a few reasons why people may be concerned about privacy. For one, many smart speakers have an always-listening function that means they can record your conversations without you having to push any buttons or even say “Alexa” first.
Of course, this isn’t just a problem with Amazon devices; it’s also possible with Google Home speakers and Apple’s HomePod.
But it’s not just smart speakers that raise privacy concerns; many other new devices have microphones and cameras, from mobile phones and computers to televisions and baby monitors.
While the technology has its benefits, it also raises questions about how much we want our words to be recorded. And in some cases, hacking could pose a serious risk to your privacy or even physical safety.
If you are using smart devices, be careful what you say around them so no one can take advantage of that information.
So, what should you do? First of all, be smart about using these devices. They may be convenient and helpful, but they also present a security risk if not handled properly. If you have concerns about the privacy of your home or business and want to protect yourself against potential eavesdropping, here are some simple steps that can help keep things private:
- Become familiar with your smart speaker’s privacy and security settings.
- Mind your network – use a WPA2 encrypted Wi-Fi network.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)
- Change default passwords.
- Always use strong passwords.
- Mute the microphone when not in use.
- Delete your command history
- Activate and train your speaker for voice recognition.
- Deactivate personalized features.
- Opt-out of data sharing for “improving” voice services.
- Consider having different networks for your IoT devices
- Be wary of connecting security devices to voice assistants.
- Update all devices to their newest versions.
- Disconnect any unused devices from your smart speaker.
- Turn off purchasing.
If you want to learn more listen to the Cyber 411 Podcast: “Episode 3: What Is Your Technology Listening To and Why Should You Care?”