What does your device know about you? A deeper look at assistant devices
Mobile, Ala (WPMI) —
From the moment you wake up, to the moment you go back to bed, devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo are always listening.
They’re designed to connect to your smartphones, emails, and streaming services. They know what you watch, what you buy, and how you pay for it. One distracted or dishonest employee, could put the identities of millions at risk.
One tech expert said, "People work with these technologies on the back end and we have to be aware that.”
Unless you manually shut off the microphone, the devices are always listening. All day, everyday, even when you think you’re out of earshot.
It says right on the boxes, they can and do hear you clear across the room.
Madeline, who is a mother, says its disconcerning "To me it's definitely amazing how far away it can hear you and how much it does hear. I feel like that could definitely be disconcerting to some people.
The wake word or hot word, depending on which deice you have is either, “Alexa” or “Hey Google”. But, in order to hear the word, the device has to listen every second of the day,”
Exactly what the devices hear, record, and send to servers, only Amazon and Google know for sure.
"You can only trust those big companies so much," said Key.
The companies say they only need your information to serve you better, but Key says even if you can trust the companies, they aren’t the only ones that can access that information.
"It's a little disheartening that they can just change things on you after you already agreed," said
"Someone who has the ability to access your machine from outside of your home basically could potentially use these items to spy on you, listen in,” Key says.
Key says if they get in, hackers can hear you wake up and leave for work, or say goodbye to your kids if you leave them home alone.
"If someone knows when you're home or when you're not home, it could put you in danger," says Key.
Google and Amazon say they take the steps necessary to protect your devices and information. Your security comes first in everything that Google does. But, criminals have been hacking into webcams, home security systems, even baby monitors for years.
"We have to trust these companies with that technology and make sure they're securing it properly,” Key said.
So what can you do? Key says, “Make sure you have a firewall.”
Because your devices connect to your lights, TV’s, phones, and computers, you have to protect all of them.
“Certainly use antivirus software on your computers and malware software on your computers,” Key said.
Most importantly, remember, your device is smart and if you don’t want it to listen, you have to be smarter.