The Amazon Echo is touted as the next-generation virtual assistant. Operating solely on voice activation, it provides a hands-free way to place online orders, connect with social media, listen to your favorite music and much more.
In today's mobile-centric society, it's easy to see how products like the Amazon Echo are so popular. But from a technological viewpoint, they're prime targets for hackers. Given the threats posed to any device that is connected to your network, as well as increasing concerns over data retention and security, it's important to know exactly how your information – in this case, voice data – is being stored and used.
How it Works
While the Amazon Echo – and many of its competitors – respond to the user's voice commands, they don't record and save all of the incoming audio. To do so would require enormous amounts of storage space and bandwidth that simply isn't feasible with current infrastructure. Instead, these devices monitor incoming audio for a keyword or wake word – in the case, it's either Amazon or Echo – before it starts recording. Once it officials initializes, however, any transmitted audio is saved to their remote servers.
In most cases, it's impossible to disable this feature. After all, it's not a flaw in the programming – it is the intended functionality of the device. But there are ways you can control your stored data. Although every device is different, many of them provide users with some control over their data.
Deleting Your Amazon Echo Data
To access your stored data, load the Amazon Echo app, navigate to Settings and click on the History tab. You'll immediately see a list of all the voice commands you've issued – either since the original installation of the device or since you last cleared the cache.
When deleting individual records, simply tap or click on the targeted command and then "Delete voice recordings."''
You can also delete all of the data stored on Amazon's servers by signing into your Amazon echo, clicking on "Your Devices" and selecting your Amazon Echo device. From here, click "Manage Voice Recordings" to access the mass deletion utility.
Potential Trouble in the Wrong Hands
Devices like Amazon Echo are incredibly useful – as long as they're kept secure. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. In mid-2017, British IT security expert Mark Barnes described a proven method for gaining unauthorized access to an unknowing user's Amazon Echo device. While his hack illustrated the potential for misuse, it required physical access to the user's hardware and the installation of special malware.
A later hack, uncovered later in 2017, affected users of both Amazon Echo and Google Home. Although the flaw – known as the BlueBorne exploit – was quickly patched, it left tens of millions of users vulnerable to outside attacks.
Still Some Work to Do
Between serious concerns over data storage and retention to the increased risk of an outside hack, it's safe to say that the Amazon Echo still has some kinks to work out. While it has the potential to serve as the central hub of the next-gen smart home, it's not quite secure enough for the masses.
Where Is Your Amazon Echo Data Located? How Can You Protect It From Hackers?
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