Privacy and Security Concerns Associated with Digital Assistants

Not a long time ago, we used to daydream about owning a robotic aide following our orders, and now, all because of Amazon Echo, it is possible. Last year we saw a sudden increase in the sales of these digital assistants. Now, many individuals have digital assistants in their homes. Some of the most popular voice-enabled robotic assistants are Echo, Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. Some of these digital assistants stay in your bedroom or work desk, while others such as Cortana stay on your computer and mobile phones.

Even though digital assistants are amazing, fun, and easy to use, they pose significant security and privacy threats. These smart personal assistants are a great way for hackers to enter your device and breach your privacy. Here are some risks associated with voice-activated personal assistants:

Non-stop voice surveillance

Echo and Alexa-enabled devices such as Fire TV Cube keep a continuous eye on the sound in the vicinity for the preset wake word. To stop this, customers have to mute it. Amazon maintains that all the data which has been recorded before the wake word gets processed on local servers and gets removed within moments. The devices listen for a key word such as “Hey Siri” or “Alexa” and get activated when the phrase gets detected. Due to this, all the sound in the background gets recorded constantly, and is transferred to the local servers.

Hacking

There are ways to hack digital voice assistants. It is not even very hard. All one has to do is, sneak in some confidential commands into songs playing on the radio, YouTube content, or even white noise. Since these commands cannot be heard by the user, their device can get hacked right in front of them. If you have a smart home, then your Echo Dot or Google Home might be connected with your smart door, smart bulb, etc. So a hacker can activate your smart speaker, and enter your house by asking them to open the door.

Privacy and Security Tips

  • Be vigilant while connecting or adding account to or with your digital assistant. Try not to use your personal or work account. Create a new account so that your personal data such as contact list and calendar is safe.
  • If you have Google Home, then you should turn off personal results from appearing.
  • If there is something confidential which has been recorded, the delete it. Even though doing so might reduce the experience of the voice assistant because digital assistants notice patterns and get better at detecting the user’s speech patterns.
  • When you are not using virtual assistants, it is wise to mute them.
  • Either completely disable purchasing or secure it with a robust passcode.

In the digitally connected world, nothing is safe. Echo Spot, a compact smart speaker, looks harmless when it is sitting on the nightstand. However, this seemingly harmless device is equipped with a camera and records all the sounds made in the room. Therefore, you must always be up-to-date with the latest threats and know how to avoid security risks. Prevention is better than cure, so secure your networks and devices.

“David Smith is a Microsoft Office expert and has been working in the technical industry since 2002. As a technical expert, David Smith has written technical blogs, manuals, white papers, and reviews for many websites such as office.com/setup.”

Leave a Reply