Voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa have become a staple in many households and can be used to perform a variety of tasks from listening to the radio to ordering groceries. However, as with any smart device, we need to make sure to put in place safety measures to our protect privacy and ensure cyber security. This article focuses on Alexa but is relevant for other voice assistants like Google Nest and smart devices of all kinds.
Here are some tips to help keep you cyber secure while using your smart speaker:
1) Alexa is programmed to always ‘listen’ and then when it hears your wake word, it starts recording. You can change your wake word to a word that you rarely use in conversation by saying “Alexa, change my wake word”
2) When having any confidential conversations, such as those that reveal sensitive personal information or information relating to work/research at LSE, it’s important to keep in mind that Alexa and other devices are always listening. Because their recognition isn’t perfect, even saying words that sound like “Alexa” (or, if you’ve changed your wake word, whichever word you’ve set) could trigger the device and result in part of that conversation being actively recorded by Amazon. In these instances, you should unplug your Alexa for the duration of the conversation.
3) You are able clear recordings of your voice by saying “Alexa, delete what I said today” Alternatively, you can manually delete your entire history by going through ‘Settings’ and then ‘Alexa Account’ followed by history.
4) Amazon allows the installation of add-ons called skills – many of which are developed by third parties and have invasive privacy policies (or no policy at all). You should always avoid installing skills from untrusted sources, and regularly check to see that the skills you do have installed are appropriate. Using the Alexa app, you can monitor what is downloaded and delete any skills which you no longer use.
5) Make sure you have a strong, unique password for your Amazon account as well as setting up MFA. For more information about MFA, read LSE Cyber Security’s article here. Your Alexa is secured by your password, so if someone gains access to your Amazon account, they also have access to your Alexa recordings, the ability to make purchases and valuable information about your security system and daily habits.
We hope these tips will help you use your Alexa securely and feel more confident about your cyber security!