Can You Use Alexa To Spy On Someone (Why and How?)

Alexa can’t be used to spy on someone. The only possible way to use it for this is the ‘drop in’ tool, which requires approval as a contact and sends an alert to the recipient. Alexa always listens for an alert word, which is generally ‘Alexa,’. 

Why Spy on Someone?

voice recording

Alexa and other so-called “smart speakers.” are practical, entertaining, and often have well-considered privacy safeguards.

However, installing a microphone in your home naturally raises concerns about whether it may be used for eavesdropping, which is why Checkmarx researchers began tinkering with Alexa to see if they could turn it into a spy device. They achieved so without the need for extensive intervention.

When Amazon launched these features, it had no intention of snooping. More new features, according to the company, improve the product.

We know that artificial intelligence (AI) is what powers these smart devices. It is critical to collect data from users in order to retain their voice recognition and smart abilities.

Alexa learns a lot about the consumers’ preferences through the recordings, paving the door for a more personalized experience.

What Can Users Do About It?

alexa and echo devices

Alexa collects enough data to comprehend your speech, even if it doesn’t save everything you say. Amazon states that it uses this information to improve its gadgets.

While it is true that the more data a gadget possesses, the better it understands your demands, other individuals simply want to ensure that their privacy and security are protected.

Muting the Echo’s microphone is one solution. However, this will make it deaf to all of your requests, and it may be unable to serve its job entirely.

Another thing you can do is disable Amazon’s “Drop-In” feature. Here’s how you can go about it.

  • Launch the Alexa app.
  • Devices should be opened.
  • Choose Echo & Alexa and then your selected device.
  • Choose Communications.
  • Drop-In, and then check or uncheck the permissions you want to enable or deny.

You may also enable a notification sound to notify you when Alexa listens in on your chats. A far safer option is to turn off the devices or keep them away from areas where crucial conversations take place.

You may also want to check first if it’s illegal or legal to record any audio on any device especially on a security camera.

Is Alexa Always Listening?

alexa listening

Yes, Amazon Alexa is constantly listening in on you, but it’s not as weird as it sounds. While Alexa can hear everything you say, it is merely listening passively, waiting for the wake word.

The wake word, which might be “Alexa,” “Echo,” or “Computer,” wakes Alexa, allowing it to react to your queries quickly.

These gadgets use built-in keyword spotting technology to match your voice to the acoustic patterns of your selected activation word. In theory, if you don’t pronounce the trigger phrase, Alexa won’t record or send information anyplace. (1)

There is a distinction to be made between listening and recording. While Alexa is constantly listening to you, she is not always recording you.

Does Alexa Record Everything?

alexa records

No, Alexa does not record all of your chats; rather, she records a subset of them. Amazon claims that Alexa only records what you say when the Echo or Alexa-enabled device detects your wake word.

After you push the action button on your device, Alexa begins recording your request and sends it to Amazon’s cloud. In the cloud, clever algorithms evaluate the audio, initiate the appropriate action, and record it in your account records.

Amazon further claims that once your audio clip reaches its cloud, it goes through a “cloud verification” process to ensure that you pronounced the wake phrase correctly and that Alexa was properly enabled.

If Alexa does not confirm the wake word in the clip, the recording of your chat and the audio feed are terminated. Alexa will only fulfill your request if it confirms that the wake word was indeed spoken.

What does Alexa record?

Anything you say following the wake word “Alexa” is captured as a sample, processed, and saved as part of your account’s voice history in the instances above. Consider these to be search queries used by Google to track your behavior, but formatted as snippets of your voice.

Alexa Skills are simply a catchy moniker for third-party apps that go above and beyond the regular capabilities of your Alexa-enabled device. Alexa Skills range from really practical to simply entertaining, and they include:

Locating your phone: Open the door, Alexa. What happened to my phone?

Booking a ride for you: Alexa, request a car from Uber. (2)

When you’re talking to your cat, say, “Alexa, meow!”


How to Keep Your Privacy Safe

Delete any voice recordings you have

You have complete control over your voice recordings with Amazon. From within the Alexa app, you may read, hear, and delete them individually, all at once, or automatically (Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History).

Alternatively, simply ask Alexa, “Alexa, how do I examine my privacy settings?”

Do not Save Future Voice Recordings

Everything Alexa has recorded and stored in your account is included in your voice history. You can listen to and examine any interactions your Echo recorded, as well as see how Alexa reacted. You can select not to have Alexa save any of your voice recordings in your settings.

Mute the Microphone

You may also mute the microphone on your Echo device to prevent Alexa from listening and recording everything you say. You won’t be able to make spontaneous requests if you mute Alexa, but your chats won’t be recorded by Amazon — or anybody else.

Press the mute button on any Echo device to turn off the microphone whenever you want Alexa to stop listening. Alexa won’t be able to eavesdrop or record whatever you say because the microphone will be blocked with a red light.

Ensure the Safety of your Wi-Fi Network

The most effective way to secure Alexa and ensure that no one else can listen is to strengthen the security mechanisms that protect all of your connected devices, which begins with securing your home’s Wi-Fi network.

Installing a powerful antivirus tool will assist you in monitoring security flaws and preventing attackers and other threats from accessing your network.

Technically, you could use Alexa to spy on someone by listening in on their chats using the drop-in capability.

However, you won’t be able to drop in on another Alexa device quietly or overtly because the device will first play a ringtone, which the recipient would almost certainly hear.

Furthermore, you must be approved as one of your friends or family’ drop-in contacts before you can use the feature, so you can’t just drop in on anyone. However, if you want to protect your privacy, here’s an article on how to block audio recording devices. Until our next article!






References
(1) acoustic – https://www.britannica.com/science/acoustics
(2) Uber – https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/111015/story-uber.asp

About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gJohn Fox has worked as a security consultant for over 20 years. During his time in the industry, he's learned about what it takes to ensure your home and family are always safe.

With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it with others to help them figure out how to make the right choices for their businesses and families.

John writes tips and guides to prevent crimes, as well as product recommendations, and tips for what to do in case of an emergency and how to protect yourself at all times.