Technology > Security

An Amazon Echo device. / Photo by: Best AI Assistant via Flickr

 

There is no known guaranteed way of eradicating the risks to privacy that smart home devices pose unless these gadgets are totally unplugged. However, there are tips that minimize the chances of having embarrassing and awkward surprises that come with the use of these digital implements, according to Barbara Ortutay and Anick Desjanun, writing for the Associated Press. 

Disable the Microphone

Most smart speakers come with a physical button for disabling the microphone, so a private conversation can’t be recorded in the first place. For instance, the button turns red on the Amazon Echo if it is turned off. Hit that button during intimate conversations. 

Limit the Microphone’s Capabilities

While it is not practical on a smartphone to disable the microphone, users can limit what apps will have access to it. They can go to the phone’s settings and deactivate access to the microphone to all but the necessary apps such as voice recorders or video conferencing.

Limit a Camera’s Capabilities

Users can follow Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s example by covering their laptop’s camera with a piece of tape to prevent spying if anyone were to hack such devices. If they have a home-security camera that’s connected to the internet, they can point the camera against the wall when they are at home. They can always put it back once they leave the house. 

Block Electronic Signals

Users can put their smartphones and other gadgets inside a “Faraday bag” which can block electromagnetic signals and prevent unwanted spying. But they need to remember that they will not be able to receive any calls while their phones are inside the bag. 

Be Informed

Technology companies have made sure that their products can be used without users having to read through lengthy manuals and operating instructions. But the downside to such convenience is that users are not aware of all the things their gadgets are capable of doing. They should go over online reviews, how-to guides, and instructional videos so they are informed of the issues and problems that their gadgets may have.