How Smart Personal Assistants Can Make You Vulnerable

Did you get a smart personal assistant for a gift this holiday season?

According to a Forrester survey, Amazon Prime subscriptions are a key driver of Amazon Echo’s success. While 28 percent of Prime members currently use a smart speaker, it’s expected to rise to 61 percent in the next few years. By 2022, over 166 million devices will be active across the US.

Voice activated, internet connected personal assistants are all the rage these days. And most that have them tell how they’ve integrated them into their lives. What could be better than asking simple questions and immediately getting a response?

But while it may be helpful to find out what the weather's like today, or have instant access to order office supplies, it can be taken too far.

We’ve all read nightmare stories about baby monitors being easily hacked. Or how personal assistants can easily be turned into a wiretapping device. Or even how they can be used in a legal defense in cases of a murder.

What should you do?

While safety will continue to improve in the months and years to follow, the important thing now is to take control over your smart personal assistant and ensure it’s used as intended, and your privacy is protected. Here are a few things to consider.

Turn off voice input

Personal assistants have a mute button so that you can turn off voice input. Turn it off whenever you want privacy, or when you’re away from home or office. This will prevent others from using it and ordering things without your consent.

Change your wake word

While this solution is limited as of yet, you can change it via the settings. You can rotate it to provide some safety in your general area.

Use PIN protection

To prevent your kids or coworkers from using your device for unauthorized purchases, set up a PIN to control voice purchases. Change your PIN from time to time or only make purchases when no one is listening.

Turn on sound notification

While the default mode is for sound notification to be OFF, you can turn it ON to receive a sound notification when your device is triggered. This will alert you to any potential problems if your assistant is triggered through offsite hacks.

Keep your personal assistant away from windows and doors

If potential criminals can easily see it walking by, they have more likelihood to attempt to hack in. It can also be accidentally triggered by passersby.

Review and delete your interactions

Smart technology keeps your interactions in order to improve performance. For extra privacy, delete your interactions on a regular basis.

Always use a secure internet connection

While this is important every time you access the Internet, and with every device you own, with a smart personal assistant it becomes even greater. Using a public or shared WIFI network with your device could expose you to security threats. You may also consider using a virtual private network to encrypt your Internet access further.

Install all updates

Remember, this is new technology. If a patch or update is triggered, take steps to install it as soon as possible. Devices that are not regularly updates are more vulnerable to malware, ransomware, and other security threats.

What questions do you have concerning smart personal assistants?

For IT Strategy, Cloud Conversion, or Help Desk Services reach out to us at Silver Linings Technology 360-450-4759.