How to Secure Your New Amazon Echo or Google Home

Take a look at these security tips, if your holiday gifts may include Amazon Echo or another voice assistant

Amazon Echo
Image: Amazon

Voice activated, smart home assistants are predicted to be high on holiday gift lists this year. According to Infoscout, “2016 will be the Year of Voice for holiday shoppers, as products like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and others in the ‘smart speaker’ category gain awareness and rapid adoption.”

As with any new tech device you bring home, you want to be sure you make the device as secure as possible. While both the Amazon Echo and Google Home have built-in security (including encryption), Paul Bischoff at Comparitech.com offers some great advice on how to further secure Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Paul points out some potential security concerns with voice-activated assistants:

  • Unless physically muted, the microphones are always listening.
  • The voice assistants cannot differentiate between different voices.
  • Voice recordings are uploaded and stored on cloud server.
  • Data is collected from recordings and subsequent analyses to provide a more tailored experience, and—in all likelihood—more tailored advertising.
  • The user’s location is used to give more accurate searches, and—again—better targeted advertisements.
  • Your data may be shared with third-parties, unbeknownst to you.

He also offers excellent tips for making Amazon Echo and Google Home more secure.

For the Amazon Echo:

  • Hit the Mute button on top of the device, when it’s not in use. This will turn off the “always listening” feature, so it cannot be activated until you physically unmute it.
  • Delete old recordings. You can use a web-based dashboard on Amazon’s “Manage my device” page to wipe your history clean or just delete individual queries.
  • Don’t link important accounts to your Echo.

Some of his advice for Google Home:

  • Delete your conversation history and block certain types of information, such as your location, from being shared with Google.
  • Pay attention to the LED lights that indicate when Google Home is listening. Sometimes it will be triggered by accident, possibly at an inopportune time.

Read Bischoff’s post in its entirety.

 

 

 
  • Jack Smith

    Have had the Echo since launch and the Home for four weeks. I have found the Home to handle majority of our use cases better than the Echo. With the exception ordering stuff.

    So Thompson put up 60 points. “hey google what is the most kobe scored in a game”? Echo can not do this. Watching a rally and all the people have an acronym on their shirt. “hey google what does X mean” and Google answers.

    But it is the inference with music that is where Home really shines. There are times with the Echo you have to do a quick google search but with the Home you can fine what you are looking for with very little and there are situations where the Google Inference is better than a human.
    So say “hey google play gwen sting bottle” and Sting and Gwen Stefani starts playing.

    The last big difference is the Chromecast as output. This is a big thing for us. So wife says “hey google play SNL highlights on TV and the TV turns on, input set and SNL highlights from YouTube start playing.

    Only config by me was renaming the Shield to TV.