If you are afraid that Big Brother is watching (or listening) to you, then perhaps an Amazon Echo or any Alexa purchase is not for you. While Alexa is the most famous of all personal voice assistants and is capable of doing many incredible things she/it is also a large security risk. While most people don’t care if someone is listening, for those that do Amazon’s Alexa is the wrong choice.
Amazon’s Alexa uses a cloud-based solution. This essentially means that the intelligence does not rest on the device. This is a smart move from Amazon because it allows them to lower the price of hardware like the Amazon Echo and keep the device to a smaller size. However, it means that whenever Alexa is listening she is actually sending voice recordings to the cloud to be translated and understood. While all of this happens automatically it means that your private conversations are being sent to the cloud. These conversations are also used to enhance the functionality of Alexa and train it to perform better. Some reports also suggest that this data is not anonymized and so can all be linked back to you.
You may say that Alexa only starts to listen after you say the word ‘Alexa’ but you would be wrong. It is always listening. A new feature Alexa Guard proves it. The solution suggests that Alexa will listen out for glass breaking, smoke alarms going off and more. Alexa is essentially always listening out for trigger sounds or words and will only act when it hears them, but it is always listening.
With this mind, if you are a regular person with nothing to hide, it is good news. You have nothing to fear. Yes, there are governments and companies probably listening to you, but it should make your life easier. However, if you are someone that values their privacy, doesn’t want their personal data to be used at will by massive corporations or is concerned about your online security and identity, then maybe reconsider your new pal Alexa.