Half of the global 815 Million Smart Speakers are putting users privacy at risk


Almost half of the 815 million smart speakers operating across the world are reported to be putting their user’s privacy at risk- says a survey conducted by IDC. Yes, this is what was discovered when the International Data Corporation (IDC) researched smart devices.


The researchers at IDC have found that half of the 815 Million smart speakers, security cameras, and other devices such as smart televisions were putting their user’s privacy at risk- in parallel to the expediency they offer.


And what’s more interesting in the find is that most of these devices are sold as gifts. So, if a relative or a friend has gifted one or all the above-said devices for the Christmas 2019 season or Thanksgiving you better be wary of the fact that they might have other intentions such as spying your life.


Well, the only way to go beyond suspicion is to stop using that device or return the device (if you can do it politely) or donate it.


But if you don’t have a choice, then the better way is to follow a list of things to minimize their eavesdropping capabilities.


For smart speakers or a smartwatch- As these devices depend on voice commands they have the potential to capture all the audio conversations which are taking place before them or within their vicinity. So, better customize the device to a trigger itself only when you utter any phrase such as “Ok Google” or by pressing a button. Some do have a way to mute the conversation recordings with a press of a button.


For security cameras or Nanny cams– It’s a fact that video evidence doesn’t stop the crime. But it will surely help in identifying the culprits or perpetrators. However, as smart cameras have taken the world of security surveillance credibly, users do need to notify a fact that these cameras are super-vulnerable to hacks and might help hackers steal your data or help them keep a constant watch on the user. Therefore, the best way is to follow some security procedures such as using a strong password and never reuse the same elsewhere. Also enabling 2-factor authentication, if available, makes sense while using such gadgets. Turning the focus point of the camera to the wall when not in use might also help to a certain extent. However, if you forget to re-position it when you’re out, then the whole purpose of keeping your house under video surveillance gets jeopardized.


Same is the case with Smart Locks- These digital locks are used to secure a home with the help of a smartphone app. However, in recent times the technology has evolved as such that it helps users lock their homes just by voice command, provided the device is integrated into a smart speaker. Although this feature helps most of the time, it can also dissuade you- especially if you have prankster kids or teens at home/in the neighborhood who would like to help someone sneak into your home. So, be careful with the use of smart locks or digital locks.


Privacy Invasion with Smart TVs- All smart TVs or streaming gadgets are now coming with a microphone installed on their platforms. And this is to help users to operate the TV- all with voice-activated commands. However, such features are triggering privacy concerns among users. So the best way to keep your smart TV away from privacy concerns is to simply disconnect it from the Wi-Fi and switch it off when not in use


Also, Smart Toys that talk– In recent times, there has been N number of reports that hackers are nowadays focusing on hacking smart toys to brainwash kids or those using the device. So, it is better if you keep the toy disconnected from the internet when not in use and only switch it on when the child is using it. Also, keep a check on the conversations which the toy is having with the kid and keep the smart toy apps up to date.

Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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