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Topic Digital Wellness

Is Alexa Always Listening?

Convenience comes at a price, and it's not always the money you pay. Sometimes, you pay with the most valuable currency of today's era - your personal data. Many smart home users are worried that Alexa is spying on them. Thankfully, if you're keen on keeping companies and hackers from spying on you, you can protect yourself with Clario's VPN and antivirus features.

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  1. What is Alexa?
  2. The problem with Amazon's Alexa
  3. Does Alexa listen to your conversations?
  4. Does Alexa spy on you?  
  5. Who has access to Alexa’s recordings?  
  6. Is Alexa safe to have in your home?
  7. How to stay safe while using Alexa

What is Alexa?

These days, many of us are willing to trade in a little privacy for reduced hassle. However, with time, more and more people are concerned with their phones listening to them. Aside from this, the growing number of smart home users are also curious if their Amazon Echo devices are spying on them through Alexa.

 

Known as Amazon's AI-assistant, Alexa helps users manage everything from their personal life to their work. With Alexa, you can do everything from scheduling meetings to buying things online. However, Alexa isn't without its fair share of issues.

 

In this blog post, we will explore the privacy concerns around Alexa, and offer some tips on how to protect your information.

The problem with Amazon's Alexa

The main problem with Alexa is that Amazon is collecting a lot of data about its users, and it is not clear what they are doing with that data. In addition, there is a lot of speculation about how Amazon is using this information and how it's being acquired.

 

Most users who use Alexa will know that it will gather data from information you dictate on purpose, such as for shopping lists, search requests, and so on. Because of the nature of its smart assistant, Amazon is collecting countless data about its users, including their purchase history, searches, and locations. This information is valuable to Amazon because it uses this information to target ads and sell products.

 

But, does Amazon use Alexa to get this information from you without your consent by spying on you?

Does Alexa listen to your conversations?

If you're wondering if Alexa is always listening, the answer is not so simple. According to Amazon, Alexa is always listening for keywords so that it can activate and start recording. Through a feature called "keyword spotting," Amazon's Echo devices require the acoustic patterns of a wake word.

 

By default, Amazon Echo will not process any audio until it hears the word "Alexa." Alternatively, it is also possible to customize your preferred keyword and make Alexa respond to that instead.

 

Once the wake word is mentioned, the Amazon Echo device will light up to show when it is listening. However, if your device's microphone is off, a red light will appear instead.

Does Alexa spy on you?  

In some cases, Alexa may appear to listen even if you did not say "Alexa" or our designated wake word. For this reason, many people may assume that Alexa is spying on you. However, it is possible that this can be due several factors.

 

For example, if another person or pet in your household is also named Alexa, it is possible for the smart home device to get confused. After all, Amazon's Alexa won't be able to tell if you're speaking to it versus another person in the room.

 

Additionally, similar to how you can mishear your own name, Amazon's Alexa may turn on from a word that sounds very similar to its wake word. If you're not certain why Alexa suddenly started listening without your consent, simply say "Alexa, why did you do that?" Then, you can listen to its explanation.

Who has access to Alexa’s recordings?  

According to Bloomberg, Amazon has an Alexa voice review process, wherein its employees parse up to 1,000 audio clips per shift. Through this process, Amazon helps quality check Alexa's voice recognition performance.

 

In addition, there is a possibility that third-party developers could access this data if you give them permission to do so. In some cases, users who dictate the names of apps they want Alexa to download are at risk of accidentally downloading the wrong one to their device.

Is Alexa safe to have in your home?

When it comes to smart home technology, security and privacy is a hit and miss. While companies like Amazon can make tremendous effort to keep its users safe, the truth is hackers are becoming increasingly intelligent with how they steal your data.

 

After all, companies like Amazon house thousands of data points on many of its millions of users. For this reason, Amazon's products and services are prime targets for hackers worldwide.

 

So while Amazon's Alexa does not record everything, the risk involved with having it on your home depends on you. Thankfully, there are little things you can do to make Alexa safer to have in your home.

How to stay safe while using Alexa

If you're wondering how to protect your privacy from Amazon's Alexa, here are some tips:

  1. Change your Alexa wake word
  2. Disable Alexa's microphone
  3. Invest in security apps like Clario

Change your Alexa wake word

Should you find yourself accidentally waking Alexa by accident, you may need to change its wake word to avoid further issues. After all, there are plenty of interesting words you can use in its wake, which doesn't sound like a real person's name.

 

Here's how to change your Alexa wake word:

  1. Open the Alexa app on your mobile phone.
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Tap Device Setting.
  4. Select smart home device.
  5. Tap Wake Word.

Disable Alexa's microphone

While it's great that Alexa is always on call for your needs, not everyone is comfortable with the possibility of being listened to 24/7. For your peace of mind, you may want to disable Alexa's microphone altogether when you're not using it.

 

Here's how to disable Alexa's microphone:

  1. Hold your Amazon Echo device.
  2. On top of your Echo device, push the microphone button.
  3. Wait for the light to turn red.

Bear in mind that following the tips above can help protect your privacy, it will impact many of the features that make Alexa useful. However, there is something you can do to help improve your online security when using Alexa with no drawbacks.

Invest in security apps like Clario

If you're looking for some added reassurance without giving up additional usability for your Amazon Echo device, you may want to invest in security apps like Clario. Using Clario, you won't have to worry about having to remove spyware from your Android or iPhone.

 

The Clario app has a cocktail of useful security features, including unlimited VPN. With Clario's VPN, you can encrypt your data on your home Wi-Fi and help protect your personal data from being stolen by hackers.

 

In addition, Clario also helps protect you with its powerful antivirus features, which includes identity protection, daily security scans for newly installed apps, and on-demand scans to quickly remove viruses.

 

With Clario, you can know right away if there are people spying on your phone and if they're attempting to access your device through wrongly installed apps by Alexa.

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