Table of contents
- How can Alexa be used to spy on someone?
- Does Alexa record conversations?
- What does Alexa record?
- What happens when Alexa records my voice?
- How to access your Alexa voice recordings
- How to prevent Alexa from saving conversations
- Can Alexa recordings be used in court as evidence?
- Problems with spying using Alexa
- It sends notifications
- It doesn’t have a large range
- It needs authorization
- It has a do not disturb mode
- It has two-way communication
- How can you stop someone from spying on you with Alexa?
- 1. Mute the microphone
- 2. Turn off “Drop-In”
- 3. Turn on notifications
- 4. Turn your device off or move away from it
- 5. Delete voice recordings
- 6. Use a camera privacy shutter
- 7. Protect your wifi network
- 8. Only allow trusted individuals access to your device
- Security issues with Alexa
- Outside sources can activate command prompts
- Hackers can access Alexa
- In summary
How can Alexa be used to spy on someone?
Devices that use Alexa, primarily Amazon Echo devices, are intended to help individuals connect with family and friends. They have features that make staying in contact easy and convenient.
However, sometimes people use those features to spy or eavesdrop on their significant others–spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.
Alexa has a “drop-in” feature that allows individuals to contact other Alexa devices without the need to answer a voice or video call.
This feature is convenient for dropping in on kids or partners in other rooms to let them know dinner is ready or letting a friend know you are at their house to pick them up. In addition, you can allow certain people to have permission to drop in on your devices at any time.
And that’s the catch. Only people who have permission to drop in on your device can do so.
The first time you drop in on a device, the device receiving the communication will enable you to drop in. Once your device has been allowed that permission, you can drop in at any time without additional consent.
That’s how someone can use Alexa to spy on you.
How to use the Alexa drop-in feature:
- Open your Alexa app and select the Communication icon
- Select the Drop in icon
- Select the contact or device you want to drop in on
- Say “Alexa, drop in on…” and the name of the contact or device you want to communicate with.
Does Alexa record conversations?
Alexa is always listening. Siri is too. This is how they can hear voice commands and complete tasks when you ask them to.
That also means that Alexa can, and does, keep voice recordings. But these only start once you say the command or wake prompt for your device, like “Alexa,” “Amazon,” or “Echo.”
Once you say that first command, Alexa records your request. It doesn’t record your conversations throughout the day, though.
What does Alexa record?
Because Alexa doesn’t start recording until you say that first command word, it only records the requests you give it.
- Looking up a recipe: Alexa, find a recipe for the best tomato soup.
- Adding something to a checklist: Alexa, add heavy cream to my grocery list.
- Looking for something: Alexa, find my phone.
- Dropping in on someone: Alexa, drop in on Ashley.
Once a command is finished, Alexa stops recording. So it only holds onto these snippets when you’ve requested something throughout the day.
What happens when Alexa records my voice?
When you give Alexa a command or request, it will send a recording of what you said to Amazon’s cloud. There, Amazon processes the information to provide an appropriate response.
For example, if you ask, “Alexa, play instrumental music,” then Amazon uses your voice recording of that request along with information from sources like Amazon Music to play instrumental music.
How to access your Alexa voice recordings
You have the ability to access your voice recordings in the Alexa app. From there, you can delete your recordings or even prevent Alexa from recording conversations and requests.
To access your voice recordings:
- Open your Alexa app
- Tap the More icon
- Scroll down and tap Activity
- Select Voice History
Here you can see, sort, and filter all of the voice recordings that Alexa has kept.
How to prevent Alexa from saving conversations
If you don’t want Alexa to record your requests or conversations, you can follow these simple steps:
- Open your Alexa app
- Select the More icon
- Go to Settings
- Select Alexa Privacy
- Select Manage Your Alexa Data
- Select Don’t save recordings
Can Alexa recordings be used in court as evidence?
Amazon respects its users’ privacy and does not voluntarily divulge sensitive information, including Alexa voice recordings, unless a binding court order requires it.
Alexa voice recordings can be used in court as evidence, but they will only be used if they can provide substantial evidence in a case. Courts must also use expert analyses to determine the legitimacy of any recordings that are used.
Problems with spying using Alexa
While your partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend might think Alexa’s drop-in feature is the perfect spying tool, there are a few problems that it has in that regard.
It sends notifications
First, whenever you drop in on another device, it sends a notification to that device, even if permission has already been granted to it. The receiving device will still notify anyone in earshot with a distinct ring, and it will light up when the drop-in starts.
Now, if you weren’t in the room to hear or see this notification, you could go a while without knowing that your ex or partner was listening in on or watching you.
It doesn’t have a large range
If an ex wishes to spy on you using your Alexa device, then you’d need to be within hearing or viewing range of the device. If you aren’t in the room, they won’t be able to spy on you.
It needs authorization
As we’ve mentioned, Alexa devices need at least an initial authorization in order to drop in on you and communicate with other devices. You can’t just drop in on any device without permission.
If you’ve given an ex or current partner permission to drop in on you, you can remove that authorization to prevent them from spying on you (more on this below).
It has a do not disturb mode
You can set your devices to do not disturb in order to prevent others from communicating with your devices. That would halt any spy attempts on your device.
It has two-way communication
Using the drop-in feature is a two-way street. So if you drop in on someone’s device, they can hear you–and see you if you have an Echo Show–through your device. So if you were spying on someone, you’d need to mute your own device and turn off your camera in order to prevent that two-way communication.
How can you stop someone from spying on you with Alexa?
The problems we mentioned above can deter a spouse or partner from spying on you with Alexa, but it doesn’t make it impossible. In order to further prevent someone from spying on you with your Alexa device, follow these steps.
1. Mute the microphone
You can mute your microphone if you don’t want people to hear you through your Amazon or Alexa device.
To do this, find the Microphone button on your device and press it. This can look different across devices. Sometimes it’s an actual microphone icon with a slash through it, and sometimes it’s just a circle with a slash through it.
2. Turn off “Drop-In”
You can disable the drop-in feature on your Alexa device to prevent partners and exes from having the ability to drop in on you.
How to turn off the drop-in feature:
- Go to your Alexa app
- Select Devices > Echo & Alexa
- Go to Communications
- Select Drop In
- From here, you can turn off drop-in. Or, if you’d like, you can limit it to specific devices so only certain people or devices can communicate with your device.
3. Turn on notifications
Make sure notifications are on. This will allow you to see and hear if an ex or partner is trying to drop in on your device.
To turn on notifications:
- Open your Alexa app
- Select the More or Menu icon
- Select the Settings icon
- Select Notifications
- Toggle on the notifications that you would like to receive.
4. Turn your device off or move away from it
If you are concerned a boyfriend, girlfriend, or ex may be maliciously using your Alexa device to spy on you, you can always turn it off or move away from it. It doesn’t have a wide range, so it can only see or hear you if you are close enough to it (usually in the same room).
5. Delete voice recordings
Hackers can access voice recordings on your device and use these to create voice commands for your devices. Delete your voice recordings regularly in order to prevent this from happening.
To delete your voice recordings:
- Go to the Privacy Settings in your Alexa app
- Select Review Voice History
- Select the voice recordings that you would like to delete
- Tap Delete Selected Recordings.
6. Use a camera privacy shutter
For devices with a screen and video features, like the Echo Show, you should have a camera privacy shutter that you can use when you aren’t on a video call.
All you need to do is slide your privacy shutter over the camera when you don’t want others to have access to see you or your home.
7. Protect your wifi network
You can prevent hacking into your Alexa device by protecting your wifi network with additional security, like a VPN (virtual private network). Clario’s VPN can encrypt your data–like the commands you request of Alexa and the signals it sends to through your wifi network. This keeps your home network protected.
8. Only allow trusted individuals access to your device
Finally, the best advice we can give if you opt to use Amazon’s drop-in feature is only to allow those you trust to have access to your device. If you don’t trust your partner, or you’ve broken up with them, remove them from your drop-in list so they can’t spy on you.
Security issues with Alexa
Alexa is an excellent and convenient tool to integrate into your home, but it has flaws. Consider these security vulnerabilities.
Outside sources can activate command prompts
Alexa’s command prompts are voice-activated, and the Echo devices, in particular, are prone to picking up sounds from other sources. For example, if the command words like “Alexa” or “Echo” were said in a video on the internet close enough to the device, that could trigger a command and start a recording.
Hackers can access Alexa
Hackers can gain access to your device and use it against you. A fake link scam is one of the more common hacks to watch out for.
A hacker will send an Alexa user a fake link, usually via email or a messaging app. And clicking on that link grants the hacker access to your voice recording history on the Alexa app.
Hackers could then use your voice history to create audio forgeries and then send commands to your device.
It would be smart to use an anti-spying app like Clario to avoid falling victim to fake link scams.
When you incorporate smart devices into your life and home, take security measures to prevent malicious acts like spying and hacking.
Don’t click on links unless you know what they are for, and regularly clear the data from your devices so hackers can't use it with malicious intent.
Download Clario’s app today for additional device security. With Clario, you can have added protection from suspicious links and files, powerful anti-virus capabilities, and browser protection as you search the web from your smart devices.