Friday, June 16, 2017 by Jayson Veley
While it may be convenient to walk into your home and turn the lights on by simply saying “Alexa” or “Ok Google,” a security expert has warned that devices like the Amazon Echo could pose a serious security risk. “If hackers find a way to compromise these devices in our homes, they could have it recording all of the time and you wouldn’t necessarily know,” explained cyber security expert Dr. Jason Nurse. “They could hear you discussing your holiday plans, so they know when you are away and could burgle you. They may hear you buying something on the phone, giving away your credit card details.”
Nurse’s comments came during a recent speech at the Cheltenham Science Festival. The cyber security expert explained that he is so concerned about the potential privacy risks that come with the use of devices like the Amazon Echo that he refuses to keep electronic assistants of any kind in his home.
But despite the fact that your banking information is put in jeopardy every time you turn on your Amazon Echo, the gadget is more popular than ever. With the ability to answer virtually any question you have, pick up commands even in a noisy room, track online shopping and even lower the thermostat, it’s easy to see why devices like the Amazon Echo are being used by millions of people across the country. But still, some are concerned that such gadgets are inviting electronic spies right into their living rooms.
“If there’s something private you want to say, the first thing you should do is mute the device… or turn it off,” Dr. Nurse advises. “You should think twice about what you say in front of these devices.” Dr. Nurse went on to explain that “someone else in your home may say the wake word without your knowledge and start it recording while you are discussing something private or sensitive.”
In the case of the Amazon Echo, the “wake word” is “Alexa,” and in the case of Google Home, the “wake word” is “Ok Google.”
Although an Amazon spokesperson claimed that they take customer privacy very seriously, this isn’t the first time that the electronic commerce company has been surrounded by controversy. Back in April, Natural News reported on the potential privacy risks concerning the Echo Look, a $199 device recently released by Amazon that has the ability to watch you get dressed in your own bedroom. Even though the original purpose of the Echo Look was to give you recommendations on what to wear, many people are concerned that it could secretly record you during some of your most intimate moments.
With technology advancing at an astonishing rate and new devices coming out every year that once were only imaginable in science fiction films, our everyday lives are becoming more and more simplistic. We used to have no choice but to drive our own cars from point A to point B; now we have the option of purchasing a car that is able to drive itself. We used to have to walk into a dark house and feel around blindly for the light switch; now all we have to do is say “Alexa, turn on the lights.” Without question, life is much more convenient than it was even just five years ago.
But just because it is more convenient doesn’t mean it’s safer. As a matter of fact, one could argue that with the invention of devices like the Amazon Echo, people are more at risk of experiencing some type of privacy violation, whether it’s a video recording taken of you while you get dressed or a hacker stealing your banking information. That is why it is up to companies like Amazon and Google to continue looking for ways to protect the privacy rights of their customers, while simultaneously putting new products on the market.