I recently became aware of a posting by Safety.com in which they discuss practical safety and security tips for the Amazon Echo in your home or office. You, my two readers, will recall my 9 January 2018 posting as follows:
The Safety.com post is as follows:
8 Quick Tips for Amazon Echo Safety & Privacy
- UPDATED: MARCH 6, 2019
In my post, I discussed the perceived, and perhaps the valid threat artificial intelligence poses to…well, everyone, and everything. That is to say, you, your family, your business, corporations and the governments of the world. So, everyone.
The idea being, A.I., as we have come to refer to it, has the potential once fully realized, to become to some degree, self-aware. Self-aware would be in the form of being able to advance itself, its operating systems and parameters. And perhaps, in a dark and threatening way, itself as an entity of sorts.
Is that last part factual? No, it has not happened, as far as we know. However, we have seen computers compete and defeat human cyber tech experts and others in computer-related contests (think internet chess champion competition). We have seen computers do analysis and reach conclusions based on access to a knowledge base available to it. A knowledge base that is only limited to access. So we are talking real potential.
But bringing this down to earth, and to the subject of the Amazon Echo, and the Safety.com posting of recommendations, we are presented with excellent tools to mitigate the present level of threat that some see.
The difficulty is that these devices are actively listening to you. Listening for voice commands. And they hear any and all voices. They are listening for you to address a question or request of the device. They are listening to the environment and they will make what they hear available to their memory. Further, they are designed to connect to the World Wide Web and the Cloud. The other concern is that their connection is via your WiFi network. The purpose of this connection is obviously to offer services and options to the user. In doing this though, they introduce the risk of intrusion and monitoring, or otherwise stated, hacking.
Here is where Safety.com smartly comes into the rescue. They offer sensible and logical steps that mitigate the threats. I have listed the steps they recommend. I highly suggest that you follow the link and study these steps for yourself. And, being smart people, safety aware people, situationally aware people (“see what I did there, got my own name in”), progressive and forward-thinking people, you will study and then apply these steps…yesterday!
This is their list:
Amazon Echo Privacy and Security Tips
Give yourself the privacy and security you deserve while you enjoy your Amazon Echo. Here’s a quick recap of the safety precautions to always keep in mind:
- Turn off voice input. Use Alexa voice remote instead.
- Use PIN protection or disable voice purchases.
- Turn on your device’s sound notification.
- Disable your smartphone’s address book sharing feature.
- Keep your Echo away from windows and doors.
- Review and delete your interactions with Alexa.
- Turn your Echo’s camera off.
- Read third-party terms and conditions.
Each item on this list give specifics outlining how and what you do. Do not scan th list. Study and consider, and then, unless you have better knowledge and methods, employ these recommendations.
Reality Check coming…
And now for a bit of a reality check. I know from my own experience, the many threats we are constantly seeing in the media are valid. “Hum, what does he mean by personal experience?!” No, I am not a hacker. But I may have known some hackers back in the day.
The threat of malicious hacking is real. Hacking is an ongoing activity today. Can your personal cell phone be hacked? Yes! Can your personal computer be hacked? Yes! Can the computers in your office be hacked? Yes! Can our local, state or federal government systems and infrastructure be hacked? Yes!
Have any of them been hacked before? You bet they have, generally without you ever hearing about it.
Can you be completely and forever safe from hacking? No.
Anything and everything currently in use, that connects electronically through some form of communications portal, with a hard drive and code can be hacked. Once a software vulnerability is identified and then patched (as it is called), that patch then comes under attack from the hackers. Eventually, there is a new vulnerability identified. That is just the sad truth in the cyber world.
The idea is to address
The Safety.com posting does this for you. What more can you reasonably ask for, someone is giving you the tools in a step by step format!
Fix your vulnerabilities today…people like Safety.com we will work with you on the “tomorrow” as it comes.