Alexa, find me a blog about how to make you more secure. If you’re like one of the millions of consumers who have purchased an Amazon Echo device in the past few years, you’ve probably asked Alexa hundreds of questions by now. I’m sure then that you’ve also seen the many reports about the somewhat murky security of your device. Whether it’s an Echo, a Google Home Assistant or any other smart speaker, the unfortunate truth is that they, like any other piece of technology, can be hacked or manipulated. While these cases are rare, it’s important to take the steps to help secure your device so you can use it with full peace of mind. Here are five easy steps to help secure your smart speaker.
- Make sure your Amazon (or Google) account sign-in credentials are strong: Your devices is tied to your Amazon (or Google) account, meaning anyone with access to your account can have access to your speaker. While an unauthorized person having access to your account is a problem in and of itself, if they are able to hack your speaker, they could use it to unlock your smart door locks or disarm your security system (assuming those are tied to your smart speaker)
Make sure to change your account password at least every six months and keep a close eye on any activity on your account.
- Keep your home Wi-Fi network protected: An unstable home Wi-Fi network can lead to an unstable home assistant. Many router’s come with a built-in firewall to protect against outside interference, but they aren’t always enabled by default. Research how to enable your router’s firewall or purchase a new router that promotes a firewall. Also, make sure to keep all devices on your network updated with the latest firmware.
- Keep tabs of your device history and delete when needed: Did you know you can view a history of virtually everything you’ve said to your Echo? In your account settings, there is a history tab that has transcribed each request you’ve uttered. This tracking can be convenient, but can also leave sensitive information such as passwords open to be discovered. Clear your history frequently to prevent any issues.
- Change how Alexa listens to you: Everyone knows the default way to get Alexa’s attention is by saying her name, but did you know you can change her “wake word”. Picking a unique word to start her voice recordings can make it more difficult for people to try mimic your voice to access information. While the voice recognition software has gotten very complex over the years, this is an added layer of protection.
- Turn off the microphone all together: One of the most common concerns surrounding smart speakers is the concept that the distributing company is listening in live or pulling recordings from your day-to-day activities. While there is some merit to these claims, generally the devices are only listening when you wake them and even then, those recordings aren’t being listened to. However, if you want maximum privacy during a sensitive conversation or while having guests over, you can disable your devices microphone temporarily to stop it from listening, even when you’ve mentioned the wake word.