Protect Your Amazon Echo’s Privacy While Working From Home: 7 Simple Tips

Is Alexa still listening?

Amazon

We’ve been navigating the new normal brought about by COVID-19 for two years and many of us are still adjusting to life as a remote worker. And that’s not likely to change any time soon, as many employees want to continue working remotely on some level, even as health measures start to improve across the globe.

With the shift to remote working, there have been concerns around the internet that Alexa might be listening in on confidential conversations. This can be alarming, especially when the the loudspeaker can be activated without you knowing it. For example, if it listens for the wake word and hears a similar term, your Echo may start listening for your command.

Echo users have long been concerned about privacy. Your Echo device is known to store voice recordings and Amazon employees can listen to your Alexa conversations. While Amazon has recent privacy improvements and it is possible to delete your Amazon voice transcriptions, maintaining confidentiality while telecommuting is always an issue. If you work from home and are concerned about confidential work information, check out these tips and tricks to protect your data.

Read also: 5 Alexa Features That Make Working From Home Easier

1. Unplug or mute your Echo speaker

If you’re worried about Alexa listening in on the confidential work conversations you have, whether it’s a client’s account information or your company’s security information, just unplug your Amazon Echo speaker while you work. . However, if you use your Echo for reminders, timers, or daily routines, you can leave your speaker plugged in and turn off the microphone or place it in another room away from where you are.


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2. Make sure Alexa Skills aren’t listening

In 2018, security researchers discovered malicious skills that exploit Echo’s Unicode character sequence, which is unpronounceable. This lets your speaker listen and wait for you to say the wake word, allowing the app to listen to you. Researchers noted that these rogue apps have been removed, but you still need to be careful what apps you download.

Go through your skill settings in the Alexa app and turn off any you haven’t used in a while. Read reviews of apps you’re unsure about to make sure nothing annoying has been detected.

Read Alexa and Google Assistant fall victim to eavesdropping apps for more information.

3. Manage and delete voice recordings on your Amazon Echo

You can view audio transcripts of your Alexa commands and delete them in the Alexa app. Or, you can ask Alexa to delete your voice recordings. Amazon currently offers three Alexa commands that will allow you to delete your voice transcripts. Just say “Alexa, delete what I just said” or “Alexa, delete everything I said today”. And to delete all your previous recordings, you can say, “Alexa, delete everything I’ve already said.”

If you prefer to delete all of your history manually, open the Alexa app and go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > review the voice Story. Next, tap the down-facing arrow next to Display then the arrow next to Filter by date. so you go tap All history > Delete all my recordings.

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Amazon currently offers three Alexa commands that will allow you to delete your voice transcripts.

Chris Monroe/CNET

4. Keep Amazon employees out of your conversations

The Amazon Echo only starts recording when you say a command to Alexa. Once you say the wake wordlike Alexa or Echo or some of the other wake word options, it starts recording audio and stores it in the Alexa app on your phone. Transcripts and voice recordings are then uploaded to Amazon’s servers for processing. If you don’t want your Echo to listen to the wake word at all times, mute the microphone by pressing the microphone mute button on the top of the device.

Amazon says once they have the transcripts, they manually review and annotate a small fraction to help improve the voice assistant. However, you can disable this feature and prevent Amazon employees from listening to your recordings.

In the Alexa app, go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage your Alexa data. From there, select Choose how long recordings are saved > Do not save Recordings > To confirm. Then scroll down to Help improve Alexaand switch it Use of voice recordings to off.

5. Make sure your Echo Show’s camera isn’t recording

Most Echo shows in the Echo line have privacy features built in. The Echo Show 5, the Show 8the Show 10 and the last Show 15all have covers for the camera to protect your privacy.

But if you have any of the previous Echo Show devices, like the first and second generation, it won’t come with the privacy shutters – but you can disable the camera by pressing the power button. You will know it is off when the red light comes on. The lens will not be covered, but you can always put a sticker or heavy tape over the lens for an extra layer of protection.

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The Echo Show 5, Show 8, Show 10, and Show 15 all have built-in privacy shutters.

Chris Monroe/CNET

6. Prevent others from seeing what you ask Alexa

Everything you ask Alexa is recorded in the Alexa app as transcriptions and voice memos. So if you share the app with others, they’ll be able to see every command you’ve given to Alexa. If you’re worried someone will see what you said — for example, if you told Alexa to buy a gift — delete the transcripts immediately (see tips 3 and 4 for tips).

7. Secure your personal devices connected to Alexa

If you use Alexa to access your bank account information or connect it to your home security system ($20 on Amazon), you are probably wondering what prevents someone from accessing this information. Luckily, most banking services require you to create a PIN for added security, so only you have access to your bank account information.

Want to know more? To follow this guide to connecting Alexa to personal banking information.

As for home security systems, find one that allows you to use a personal code so that only you or other members of the household can turn off the alarms. If your security system doesn’t have a PIN feature, move your Echo away from doors and windows to prevent outsiders from gaining access to it – or better yet, get a device that works with Alexa.

Want to learn more about your Amazon Echo device? Check out these four places to avoid putting your Amazon Echo device and these tips for personalizing your Amazon Echo so you love him even more.

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