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Amazon Alexa Security – How To Stop Hacks On Voice Assistants

Note: This post has been guest authored by Mandip, a technology geek who always looks for new and cool stuff online. He likes to share his thoughts and research to the people.

Many people don’t know that they can use the Amazon Fire Stick to watch the live feed of the security camera at their home or office on the Amazon Echo Spot, Echo Show devices. You will not need to use your smartphone or tablet for that either. Of course, this thing can be possible using Alexa on the Amazon devices with a compatible security system. But, in recent times, the Amazon smart speakers have created some annoying and embarrassing scenarios that made them untrustworthy without some good security on them.

In May 2018, a conversation of a US couple was recorded by the voice assistant and sent to an associate that too without their prior knowledge. As stated by one of the news reports, the husband received a phone call saying that to unplug the Amazon Alexa as they were being hacked!

One of the primary reasons for such threats is the linking of smart devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo, etc. to the other systems. So, if a hacker can successfully enter in someone’s central heating system, then it will be easy to manipulate the functioning of the voice assistants. To avoid such horrifying (maybe I have exaggerated) situation with you, take some actions to secure your Alexa security or say secure your home with the Amazon Alexa.

Stop Hacks on Amazon Alexa Voice Assistant

I will provide details on the top five hacks that you can use to improve the security of Alexa devices. Let’s have a look at them.

1. Change the activation word

“Alexa, tell me about the movie Avengers: Endgame.”

You communicate with your Alexa in a similar way. And you may know that you can change the word with which you wake the voice assistant. There are a few blog posts which can help to rename Alexa if you need. I advise choosing a word that you don’t use in your routine life. Remember that Alexa can hear the voices behind the closed doors and windows. Use a unique name for the voice assistant that you will use only when you speak to it.

If possible, turn off the microphone of the device to not let it listen entirely.

2. Remove the old conversations

Every day, you make a lot of recordings on your Alexa devices. Most people do. Yes, the tapes like weather updates, dog noises, alarm settings, meeting reminders, etc. are not sensitive information. But if you have any previous recordings on the voice assistant like your financial information, health issues, or so, then you should delete them from the device. Many users do not worry about the outcome of it, and so they do not bother to remove the old recordings. If someone breaches into your network, then he/she can access them which you may not want to happen.

So, if you doubt the security of any recording on your Alexa enabled device, then just delete it. For that, open the settings and go to ‘History’ in the app. Look for the recordings and remove them. You can also use amazon.com dashboard to delete the conversations. Remember that until you remove the recordings, they will stay in Amazon cloud.

3. Update the device

Amazon regularly releases the updates for the device software. And to keep your Alexa updated to the latest changes, you need to stay connected to the Internet. However, if you missed something important, you can always update the device anytime. Go to the settings of the device and look for the Alexa updates. Click on the update button when you find it and leave your device for some time.

Once the app updated, you can use it again with the bug fixes and other new features. This process will help you to use the latest version of the app and to remove any glitches left in the previous updates for keeping your device more secure.

4. Change the password regularly

It’s a good practice to update your password regularly whether it is your bank account, your email account, or your Alexa device. If you have set a weak password, then there are chances that someone can easily hack your device and can access your information. If you have shared the Alexa password with your family members and they frequently order online through it, then also the password is vulnerable to the hackers.

So, it is recommended that you change the password of your Alexa device regularly and also make it complex & unique that cannot be guessed easily.

5. Network protection

It doesn’t matter how complex password you set on your Alexa device or how many different ways you take to secure it if your network is not protected, then your Alexa device is under danger of being hacked. I advise creating a unique network name and secure password for it. Don’t make the credentials easier to identify. Also, enable the security protocol WPA2 on the router.

Also, it is better to create one wireless network for your financial tasks like banking, online shopping, etc. and the other for the general purpose. You can also set up the connectivity restrictions using the firewall services on your WiFi network.

Some simple Alexa hacks

  1. Make your Alexa repeat the last thing it said to you. For example, even if you have asked the weather update to Alexa and got the answer, still say “Alexa (or whatever name you have given to it), can you repeat that?
  2. If you have a Nest thermostat in your home or office, then you can use your voice to give commands to Alexa for setting it up. Download the app for it, and you are good to go.
  3. You can customize your music preferences and even set an application as a default music service. You can also manage the news briefing that you hear on an Echo device. There are settings in the menu for doing these processes.
  4. You can tune your guitar or other musical instruments with the help of Alexa. Just say, “Alexa, tune my guitar.” It will cycle through the tunes for making a regular tuning.

Bottom Line

Today, there are more than 30 million Echo devices in the US only. Amazon continuously denies that Alexa devices make recordings all the times, but they are listening to the wake word (‘Alexa’) always. Once you activate Alexa, it will record and store the info that you say to it.

So, you should always remember to think before whatever you ask Alexa like your bank account balance, weather update, or any other thing and also should be aware that you can delete them all from the voice assistant’s database. It is not like that an Alexa device will record, store, and send your data to the third parties always, but you should review your recordings regularly and delete any confidential or important information.

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