A few years ago, it may have seemed that having a voice-activated digital home assistant was a pipe dream. Now, thanks to devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, chances are that you or someone you know uses a virtual assistant.
According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), 45 million U.S. households use one of those two devices. Amazon Echo is still the far-and-away leader, with Alexa controlling 69 percent of the market.
Here’s the danger. Although helpful, anything that connects to the internet can be breached. And, voice control fuels a whole new set of security concerns.
What is Alexa Listening To?
Digital assistants are only supposed to record and process audio after hearing their “wake word.” In the case of the Amazon Echo, “Alexa” is both the wake word and the synthetic intelligence character. However, there have been several cases in which private conversations have been recorded without consumers’ knowledge.
In May of 2018, an Oregon woman had conversations with her husband secretly recorded, and then digitally forwarded to someone on their contact list. This is obviously a serious invasion of privacy. If Alexa’s secret recordings were to fall into the wrong hands, someone’s personally identifiable information could be compromised and then used against them.
Two months prior, users of the Echo device around the world reported the same disturbing circumstance – Alexa creepily laughing out of the blue.
The recordings in these devices are stored until the owner deletes them. This unpredictability with regard to the data Amazon is collecting (and sharing?) should be a red flag for consumers, but it’s not.
For Consumers, Ignorance is Bliss
We’ve written before about how, for most, the convenience offered by apps and artificial intelligence outweighs the risk. Simply saying “Alexa” to unlock all of the Echo’s capabilities, including making purchases, doesn’t exactly seem secure. Rebecca Herold, CEO of Privacy Professor, was quoted as saying “It’s the equivalent of using a computer password that’s 1-2-3.”
In a widely-underreported, massive December 2017 data breach, the personal information of more than 120 million American households was exposed on an Amazon Web Services cloud storage bucket. Did you know that’s how your Alexa recordings are stored?
Be Proactive in Protecting Yourself & Your Family
Whether you use a digital home assistant or not, your personal information is on the web. Hackers, cybercriminals, and identity thieves are working around the clock to get their hands on it. You want the best identity theft protection for yourself and your family. Sign up today for an IdentityForce Free Trial.