Smart Speaker Security: How to Protect Your Privacy in 2023

Smart speakers have become a popular technology in modern homes with over 66 million Americans owning at least one. With features like hands-free activation and virtual assistance integration, smart speakers have made life easier for many households. However, as the technology becomes more widespread, it is essential to know about your smart speaker security and protect yourself from potential fraud.

Smart speakers offer a convenient way to control various devices such as light bulbs, TVs, and thermostats using only a few words. However, their ease of use and cross-platform functionality also make them susceptible to security flaws. Cybercriminals can exploit these vulnerabilities to launch attacks, making it necessary to take measures to ensure the safety of your devices and information. In the coming years, securing your smart speakers will become a vital part of maintaining a secure home.


How Smart Speakers Work

Smart speakers rely on internet connectivity to function effectively, as they require access to third-party services such as music platforms and eCommerce sites. Amazon Alexa and Google Home are two examples of smart speakers that listen for a wake word before sending commands to the cloud for interpretation. However, on their own, smart speakers are not very intelligent.

Due to their limited memory, smart speakers can only hold a few seconds of audio at a time. The device records a few seconds of audio continuously and immediately deletes it. This process continues until the device hears a designated wake word. Once the device detected the wake word, it will send an audio clip to a machine-learning algorithm for processing.

At this stage, a neural network interprets the input by matching patterns and triggering actions. For example,  adding an item to a grocery list or changing an event on a calendar. This neural network mimics the way humans associate words with meaning. Therefore, the device provides a more natural and intuitive user experience.

Privacy and Ethical Concerns of Smart Speakers

The privacy and ethical concerns surrounding smart speakers have become a major issue for many users, especially when it comes to the handling of their conversations. Although smart speakers from major manufacturers such as Amazon, Google, and Apple are generally considered safe to use, there are still some risks associated with the “always-on” microphone.

Passive listening is always on, with smart speaker microphones always listening for the wake phrase such as “OK Google” or “Alexa” to capture and process commands. However, accidental recordings are possible, where other words may be misheard as activation phrases.

All recordings are stored locally on the device, and then transferred to the corresponding cloud servers for processing. Depending on your privacy settings, these recordings may be used in various ways, such as for improving voice services and developing AI voice recognition technology smart speakers. However, some recordings may be reviewed by humans to improve voice recognition further, and voice data may be used to build advertising profiles on users.

Despite shifting policies regarding recordings and their usage due to the popularity of smart speakers, privacy concerns still remain, even for the top manufacturers such as Amazon, Google, and Apple.

Smart Speakers Security Threats

Smart speakers, like any internet-connected device, are vulnerable to security threats. Although there have been few direct attacks on smart speaker users, there is evidence that the devices may record without waiting for a wake word.

In some instances, a smart speaker may interpret a random word or sentence as a call to wake up. For example, in 2018, Alexa devices reportedly burst into laughter on their own. Although these incidents did not expose sensitive data, they do suggest that the algorithms behind voice assistants are not perfect.

In October 2019, researchers discovered a vulnerability affecting Google and Amazon smart speakers. Malicious software developers could upload voice-controlled apps that secretly record users and ask for their passwords. This type of attack, known as voice phishing or vishing, is a growing concern, and users should take steps to protect themselves. Our comprehensive guide offers tips and strategies to avoid becoming a victim of vishing attacks.


Smart Speaker Security: How to Protect Your Personal Information

What can you do to have the best smart speaker security actions? Whether you already own a smart speaker or plan to receive one as a gift, it is crucial to take steps to ensure your privacy and security.

For example, creating unique passwords and disabling unnecessary features. By staying informed about potential threats and taking precautions, you can enjoy the convenience and benefits of smart speaker technology while minimizing the risks of security breaches.

Here is the guideline on how to deal with smart speaker security to make sure your personal data is safe:

#1. Don’t Share Sensitive Information

First, it is crucial to avoid sharing sensitive information with your smart speaker or digital assistant. Refrain from telling your assistant your passwords, credit card information, Social Security number, or any other personal identifying information that criminals could use to target you or your family. If an app on your device requests this type of information, it could be a malicious piece of software, and you should avoid it.

#2. Disable Purchasing Commands

To minimize the risk of unauthorized purchases made through your smart speaker, it is advisable to turn off purchasing commands. Many smart speaker devices, including Alexa, come with default settings that allow users to make purchases with simple voice commands.

However, this feature can be exploited by anyone with access to your device, leading to unwanted and unexpected purchases. As such, it is recommended that you either disable this feature entirely or set up a password to protect against unauthorized access. After all, you wouldn’t want your children to add items to your shopping cart without your knowledge or consent.

#3. Be Cautious About The Connected Devices

It’s important to be cautious about the types of devices that you connect to your smart speaker. While many devices allow for convenient, hands-free control through your speaker, it’s crucial to consider the potential risks associated with such connections.

For instance, connecting smart security devices like door locks and alarms could potentially give unauthorized individuals the ability to control them. As such, it’s better to limit the types of devices you connect to your smart speaker. This way can avoid any security breaches that could put your home and family at risk.

#4. Review and Delete Saved Recordings Regularly

It’s important to regularly review and delete the recordings that your smart speaker has saved. Devices like Alexa and Google Home give you the ability to access and review every command that they have recorded.
By using an associated app, you can see when the wake word was spoken, and review the specific commands that were sent to the cloud. This allows you to identify any recorded sensitive information. Also, to delete it permanently via the app to maintain your privacy and security.

#5. Enable Two-Ways Authentication

If you link external apps and services to your smart speaker, it’s advisable to activate two-factor authentication whenever possible. For instance, if you still want to make purchases through your smart speaker, you can set it up to send a verification code to your mobile phone. This provides an extra layer of security and ensures that only authorized individuals can make purchases.

#6. Secure Your Wi-Fi Network

To minimize the risk of cyberattacks, it’s crucial to secure your Wi-Fi network by using WPA2 encryption. This will help protect the data transmitted to and from your smart devices.

In addition, some routers provide a separate network for guests to reduce the risk of exposing your home network. Another way to limit unauthorized access to your smart speaker is to enable voice recognition. Although this isn’t foolproof, it can help restrict who has access to the device.

Smart speakers offer convenience and efficiency in managing smart devices. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential security threats and take appropriate measures to safeguard your privacy.


While smart speakers are highly convenient, certain features may expose you to potential cyber threats and unauthorized data access. Acknowledging the common privacy and security issues associated with smart speakers can help you maintain a safe online presence.

Once you have identified the risks, you can take preventive measures above to safeguard your devices, network, and online behavior.

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