Smart home assistants, like Alexa and Google home, have soared in popularity across UK homes. A report showed that 22% of UK homes now own a digital home assistant, double the 11% figure reported in the same report for 2017.
These devices have now become common place in our homes, we are now relying more and more on these smart assistants to aid us in our day to day routines, asking common questions like ‘is it going to rain today?’ or what’s the date today? Or linking it to our home systems like turning appliances, lights or the heating on.
But are they safe? We all read in the news about how they may be ‘spying’ on us, but is this true?
As with all systems that are online, home assistants come with security risks, both personal and financial. What should homeowners be aware of when it comes to using smart home assistants?
As with all digital devices, they can be infiltrated without the due care with security and privacy. An important point is that they are on all the time, and there have been cases where they have recorded private conversations. We can reveal too much private information, for example our login data for internet shopping and then this can be stolen once it has been hacked. Hackers could even potentially find out when you’re not at home, if you’ve synced up your calendar to the device.
How to stay safe using a smart home assistant
- Only sync necessary accounts and devices to your home assistant.
- Use voice recognition if possible, so that the device answers only to your voice.
- Make sure that you’ve got strong and secure passwords, and update these regularly.
- Don’t store sensitive data, like passwords or financial information, on the device.
- Link the device to your own Wi-Fi network – don’t use public Wi-Fi.
- If your device makes recordings, review these and erase them if they’re not needed.
- Set a password for purchases.
- Turn off the device when you’re not using it, for example, when you’re going on holiday.