Category Archives: Prevent Internet Spying

Amazon Alexa Privacy Concerns: VPN For Smart Speakers Security

Over the past few years, Internet of Things (IoT) devices have entered into the mainstream. The most popular IoT devices are smart speaker systems. Smart speaker systems consist of wireless voice command devices with integrated virtual assistants. Out of the smart speakers available to the public, the Amazon Echo and its voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa is the most highly rated. While easy-to-use, Amazon Echo and Alexa privacy concerns have many users worried.

amazon alexa privacy concerns

Smart Speakers Security Concerns

A smart speaker system like Amazon Echo is hands-free and voice controlled. Uttering the magic word “Alexa” awakens the Echo speaker, allowing users to listen to music, make phone calls, send e-mails, check the weather, and much more.

Due to the fact that the Echo is voice-controlled, the Alexa system is in “listening” mode at all times. Many Alexa users believe that the Amazon Echo is recording every word it hears. However, that is not the case. Instead, Alexa is on the lookout for a wake word, set to “Alexa” by default. Once the Amazon smart speaker hears the wake word it records the commands it hears, analyzes the voice input, and sends back a response to the user. In most cases, this process happens in the span of a second.

While Alexa may not be listening at all times, Alexa privacy concerns are valid. For example, if someone hacked an Amazon Echo, it could open the door to illegal eavesdropping. While hackers have yet to hack into an Amazon Echo and record users at all times, it is a possibility. And, even if hackers were able to access only voice commands, it is still an unwelcome thought.

Taking advantage of a Virtual Private Network is the best way to ensure smart speaker security and prevent Alexa spying. Some of the most highly-rated VPN providers include:

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Unsure which VPN provider is best for you? Send us a message.

Alleviate Alexa Privacy Concerns with a VPN Router

A Virtual Private Network encrypts connections by tunneling user traffic through a remote server and back. For example, any prying eyes, such as a snooping Internet Service Provider, will be able to see the VPN tunnel, but none of the traffic moving through it.

In order to use a smart speaker system like Amazon Echo through a VPN, you will have to use an Open Source router. Smart speaker systems do not have native VPN support. However, connecting to an Open Source VPN-ready router will encrypt all devices on the network, including Amazon Echo.

Best DD-WRT Wireless-AD Compatible Netgear Router for Alexa Privacy Concerns - R9000 Nighthawk AD7200

Routers with factory firmware are frequently full of bugs and hacker-ready backdoors. Flashing a router with Open Source DD-WRT firmware eliminates these bugs and allows for a slew of previously unavailable feature sets, like the ability to use the device as a connection to a VPN server.

The Netgear Nighthawk R9000 (pictured above) boasts a 1.7 GHz processor alongside next-gen Wireless-AD coverage. Flashed with DD-WRT firmware, this router is truly a networking behemoth. If you are looking for a device robust enough to handle a large amount of traffic through a VPN, look no further.

The Netgear Nighthawk R9000 is the perfect device for smart speakers security in any large home or situation involving heavy WiFi usage.

For a setup that is a little less intense, recommended routers include:

Netgear R6400V2 AC1750
Linksys WRT1900ACS/AC v2 AC1900
Netgear R7800 AC2600
Wireless-AC1750 Mbps
1 GHz Broadcom Processor
3 Ext Antennas
Top Economy Router
Wireless-AC1900 Mbps
1.6 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Great for Streaming
Wireless-AC2600 Mbps
1.7 GHz Qualcomm Processor
4 External Antennas
One of Our Most Powerful Routers

FlashRouters Privacy App Solution for Amazon and Alexa Privacy Concerns

Every DD-WRT FlashRouter comes with the free FlashRouters Privacy App. The FlashRouters Privacy App revolutionizes and simplifies using a DD-WRT router with a VPN. With the Privacy App, users can:

  • Switch between locations with the tap of a button
  • Manage which devices go through the VPN and which don’t
  • Change VPN Providers with a few clicks on the same device

Want better support for your entire network? The FlashRouters Privacy App is here to help.

Have any other questions? Feel free to contact us. 

Edward Snowden, the NSA, and Oliver Stone: An Update

An update on Edward Snowden and the NSA

Edward Snowden, the NSA, and Oliver Stone

News media is flooded with stories about Edward Snowden. Not since his groundbreaking leaks about the NSA’s massively invasive PRISM program has Edward Snowden been such a regular presence in our news.

Edward Snowden, the NSA, and Oliver Stone: An Update

There are multiple reasons behind this latest blast of news around Edward Snowden. To start, Oliver Stone just released Snowden, the director’s retelling of the events surrounding Snowden’s infamy. In addition to featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role, Snowden co-stars Melissa Leo, Nicolas Cage, Shailene Woodley, and Zachary Quinto.

Not so coincidentally, a Pardon Snowden campaign has gained some steam. Support for the movement has come from a lot of places, from the ACLU to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and even The New York Times. This is a pretty surprising switch, given the general disapproval that followed Edward Snowden’s important revelations.

The Edward Snowden Saga: A Recap

Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, collected thousands of documents detailing the NSA’s shockingly widespread surveillance programs and released them to the press. Snowden has spent the years since living in Russia, where he was granted asylum.

As the ACLU has helpfully pointed out:

Snowden has already been vindicated in multiple ways: A panel appointed by the president to review the NSA’s surveillance program recommended ­­dozens of reforms. Last year, a federal appeals court found the NSA’s call-tracking program revealed by Snowden was illegal. The following month, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which ended bulk collection of call data by the US government. That bill marked the first time Congress has acted to rein in government surveillance since the 1970s. Journalists at The Guardian and Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Snowden’s disclosures.

Maintaining Cybersecurity in the Age of Edward Snowden and the NSA

FlashRouters is for a full pardon of Edward Snowden. That much should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog regularly. One of FlashRouters’ top goals is to offer users a safe and dependable way to live online. That most certainly includes protecting our users’ privacy, for which FlashRouters receives invaluable assistance from our VPN partners.

Therefore, this is a no-brainer to FlashRouters. Edward Snowden risked his freedom to protect all of ours. Those of us who spend a lot of time online around the world are more aware of the dangers that spying governments present. That’s a direct positive result of Edward Snowden’s work. What’s more, Snowden has been a consistent champion for a more secure and private Internet in the aftermath of the PRISM leak.

FlashRouters agrees with Snowden’s online security advice, which includes using protection networks like Tor or browser plugins like HTTPS Everywhere. FlashRouters is particularly interested in encouraging VPN usage. Our top-of-the-line DD-WRT and Tomato VPN routers are good for helping with that.

Take a minute and check out this brief list of a few of our favorite VPN service providers.

ExpressVPNPopular premium VPN provider with top performance in Asia and Australia.
NordVPNAn increasingly popular service for users in the EU.
IPVanishOffers some of the fastest Level 1 server speeds worldwide & popular in countries like Saudi Arabia & the UAE.

In addition, get to know some of our alternative VPN setup options. Learning a few of these tricks is a great way to make VPN usage simple while increasing your network productivity.