Tis the Season!
This is the time of year when we bring more and more internet connected devices into our homes (and sometimes offices). We trust that they will do just what they need to, but sometimes – intentionally, unintentionally or maliciously – they go a step beyond and put your security at risk.
Last week, buried among all the cyber deals and holiday news, we found out that a feature of a connected device from a name all of us know – Amazon – has taken a step in the wrong direction with their internet connected devices.
Amazon launched a feature called “Sidewalk” (https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Sidewalk/b/?node=21328123011) that in simplest terms uses each of your Amazon devices in your home as a wireless network for other Amazon devices, even if they are not yours! So, your Alexa Echo smart speaker will give a little bit of its wireless signal to say a neighbor without internet, or a nearby outdoor camera. The idea is simple enough – use these devices to extend the reach of WiFi networks so outdoor gadgets (like their Ring cameras and doorbells) or tracking devices like the Tile can stay connected even if they are farther away from your house.
This all doesn’t sound bad for some, but the part that bothers most techies is they turn this on by default – meaning you must opt-OUT, not choose to participate. That is where we have a problem. Most home users are not savvy enough to know what is going on, and therefore by default Amazon will be creating this large connected network of devices potentially outside of your home.
So, what can you do? Well we recommend you turn it off NOW. Amazon is slowly releasing the feature, which means if you take the time now to disable it you will not have any issues when it goes online in the coming weeks.
You can do this by opening the Alexa app on your smartphone, tapping on the more menu (three lines) and going to settings. From there select Amazon Sidewalk ant turn the slider to off
If you have Ring Floodlight cameras, you need to disable this in the Ring app as well. Tap the three line icon on the top left of the app, then Control Center. Tap Sidewalk and slide to off – you will need to confirm you want to disable the feature.
We hope this serves as a reminder to always keep an eye on what internet connected devices you bring into your home. Ensure they are always up to date and look over the privacy settings to ensure you are not giving away any more data than necessary