How to Keep Your Home Voice Assistant Secure

Uncategorized May 24, 2019

 In last week's Live on Facebook, I discuss all the skills being developed for voice assistants, specifically Alexa.

And many readers asked, "But is she safe? And can I trust that no one listens to my private conversations?" 

So, I did further digging and here's what was found -- I recommend you do you own due diligence for best measures.

In recent years, we all learned and maybe experienced first hand, that devices and even institutions are not as secure as we thought. They can be hacked. Since the explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in millions of households across the land, there are more opportunities for personal information to be collected, shared and stolen.

Keeping Alexa Secure

In my research, I discovered many suggestions, procedures, and set-ups to keep your voice assistant device secure. I mention a few here and more in my Live, so feel free to listen.

Strengthen your Amazon password

Anyone with access to your Amazon account can listen to, share or delete your Alexa voice-recording history.  This includes family members and hackers who obtain your Amazon password.  

The commands you give Alexa — arming your security system, requesting directions and commute times, or calling friends — can provide malicious actors with valuable information about your daily routine. So, practice good password hygiene recommendations

Consider changing the default name and password for your wireless network — don't include identifying information in either — and enable the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol on your router. Create one Wi-Fi network for your smart-home devices and another for devices you use to bank, shop or browse, and set up a firewall to restrict what — and who — can connect. 

A listener on the Live suggested, "I'd add the same advice regarding changing Alexa's name as you're given regarding passwords -- make it unique & uncommon -- change the name to something no one else would think of using. The same applies to the SSIDs and passwords you assign to your network. You should also set the highest possible security level available for the network and type of router you have. I use WPA-2 and turn off WPS."

The reader adds, "And not to scare anybody, there's an old saying among geeks -- nothing on the internet is ever really "deleted." Although you can clear your history, there are people out there who, if determined, can unmask it. This means you should use the same discretion with these devices as you would online or on social media -- if you'd be embarrassed to see it surface in public, don't share it with your voice assistant."

Sounds like prudent advice.

Other tips:

1. Mute the Mic

2. Enable Notification Sounds

3. Keep the device away from windows or front and back doors

4. Check your history

5. Delete the history

There are more. To hear them, listen to the Live recording. 

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