Protect Your Privacy From Alexa with These 8 Tips24.06.2022
The term tech for the home is synonymous with smart home integration and voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa. It’s nearly impossible to ignore the growing number of devices that can work with Alexa and Amazon Echo.
Echo raised privacy concerns in 2018, however, when a speaker accidentally recorded the family’s private conversation. The speaker then sent it to their colleague, mistakingly hearing parts of the conversation as voice commands. Alexa also misheard common words, triggering strange laughter at odd times. Although it might seem obvious that Alexa is invading your privacy, there are many settings you can change on your Echo speaker.
1. Make Alexa stop listening
You can stop your speakers listening to your wake word and possibly mishearing it by turning off the mic via the mute button at the top. The camera can also be turned off. The Echo Show and earlier Echo models let you disable the camera with a push of a button. However, the newer Echo models have privacy shutters that protect the lens from being in use. The Echo Show and Show 5 have an “off” button that turns off both the microphones and camera. To indicate that the microphone or camera is off, the LED light will turn red.
2. Change your wake word
You may find that your Echo speaker thinks you’ve spoken “Alexa” more often than you actually have. To change this, go into your settings. Alexa can be woken by the words “computer”, “Amazon,” and “echo”, which is useful when you’re looking at Schitt’s creek (Alexis). The speaker’s wake word is the cue it receives that you are giving it a command.
Open the Alexa app on your smartphone to change your wake word. Find your speaker under Devices, then select the new wake word. Allow your speaker to update for a few moments.
Here’s how to use Alexa app > Devices Echo & Alexa > [Your Echo Device] > The Wake Word (under General > [New wake word]
3. Know when she is listening
If an Echo speaker hears the wake word and begins listening, it will turn the blue light ring around the top of the screen (or a blue stripe along the bottom in the case smart displays such as the Show). If the speaker is not in your field, it might not be able to hear you unless you activate an audible alarm.
You can enable sounds to receive both visual and audible notifications when your speaker listens for a command.
Here’s how it works: Alexa app > General > Sounds Request Sounds > Allow “Start of Request” or “End of Request”.
4. Prevent unauthorized purchases
Alexa bought a dollhouse in 2017 for a 6-year old child who requested one. It was also purchased for viewers of local morning shows that heard their Alexa devices hear the request. Under the Voice Purchasing setting, you can turn “Purchase by Voice off” in the Alexa App. To avoid unauthorised purchases, you can set up a pin code.
Here’s how to use Alexa app > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing > Disable “Purchase with voice”
5. Amazon can’t listen to your recordings
Bloomberg reported in 2019 that Amazon employees workers to manually review voice recordings. In the Alexa app’s settings, you can choose not to have your voice recordings used in the review process. You can also remove voice recordings from the privacy settings. These voice recordings are available to all who have access to the Alexa app. You can also set up automatic deletion every 3 or 18 months.
Here’s how to use Alexa app > Settings > Manage your Alexa data > Automatically delete recordings
6. Stop people spying on your business
Alexa’s Drop In function allows Echos to automatically connect with another Echo to initiate a conversation. It works like an intercom system. This feature can be turned on or off, it can work only between Echos in your household, or you can select which contacts are allowed to drop by anytime from the Conversations tab in the Alexa app. Go to the Contacts menu and look for Others Who Can Drop in on My Devices. Tap on Remove to cancel the Drop In permissions of the contact.
Here’s how to use Alexa app >. Communicate > Contacts (outline for a person in the upper right-hand corner). [Your Name] My Communications Settings Allow Drop In to be disabled
7. Remove old voice recordings
Reviewing your voice history in Alexa or in your browser will allow you to enable the setting to delete your previous voice request and all voice recordings for that day. You can also access Alexa Account > from the Alexa app. Alexa Privacy: Tap Manage how Alexa’s data is used. Turn off Help Develop New Features. To delete your Alexa history, go to Settings >. To delete individual entries from the Alexa app history, go to Settings >. You can delete them all by going to Alexa Privacy Settings at Amazon’s website. Select Review Voice History. You must delete all recordings from each default marketplace that you have used.
Here’s how to use Alexa app > Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History
8. Cover the camera
Some people are uncomfortable with a camera that turns on when it is activated. An Echo device that has a camera can be turned off by pressing the microphone/camera button or slider. This will disconnect both the microphones and camera.
The Echo Show also has a built-in shutter camera, which is useful for anyone who wants visual privacy from a replacement nightstand clock pointed at their bed.
Smart devices can increase your vulnerability. Although nothing can be trusted, it is important to understand what your data is doing and which settings you have so that you can make informed decisions.