Could Amazon Alexa listen to your conversations?

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Amazon Alexa Dot: Credit: MGN

Devices like the Amazon Echo were designed to make people’s lives easier, but could they expose personal information?

Alexa recently sent audio recordings of a couple’s private conversation in Portland to one of their contacts without their knowledge, CBS affiliate KIRO-TV reports.

“That’s scary. I don’t,” said user Robert Goodman. “I didn’t set up my contacts for that reason but I’m really glad I didn’t after I heard that story.”

Shaun Book, owner of Area 51 PC, said there are ways to prevent this from happening, but it will limit features on the device.

“Unfortunately, it does disable quite a bit of content from Alexa, and basically disables the virtual assistant, is to tap the microphone or either put it in mute,” Book said. “Another safeguard you can do would be to change the command line from ‘Alexa’ or ‘hey Alexa’ to computer or one of the other four options.”

Users must call Amazon customer service to turn off calling and messaging features. Users should also disable their contact list and avoid saying words similar to Alexa.

“It’s great and it’s convenient but you never know who’s listening,” Goodman said.

Book said there aren’t many preventative measures to take to ward off hackers if the device is plugged in.

“A hacker’s going to get in there and want to try to get in there, there’s not too much commercially on that side of it that you can do to disable that,” Book said.

Book also suggested limiting contacts and account information stored on the device, as well as keeping the volume high to hear when Alexa is activated and responds.


MORE: Amazon: Alexa Echo sent recorded conversation in “unlikely” string of events

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