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.
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.
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:
1 GHz Broadcom Processor
3 Ext Antennas
Top Economy Router
1.6 GHz Marvell Processor
4 Ext Antennas
Great for Streaming
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.