are my devices listening to me

Are My Devices Listening to Me?

are my devices listening to me

Have you ever had a conversation near your phone or another “smart device” like an Amazon Alexa device, and then later in the day you started seeing suggested content or advertisements for that thing you were discussing? Could this be a coincidence? Maybe, but this isn’t the first time you’ve noticed this. Situations like this, no doubt, make you wonder – “are my devices listening to me”?

Norton, the popular antivirus software firm, says that your devices are listening to you. That’s their job!

Typically, the “Hey Google!” and “Alexa!” commands would be impossible if the devices weren’t listening. But how much are these devices listening, and how much information do they collect?

In this article, we’re going to discuss how these smart devices are listening to you and using and distributing the information they get. We’ll also discuss how to protect yourself but still get the awesome benefits of these devices.

When you activated your Amazon Alexa device, or the Siri feature on your phone, etc., you most likely accepted the terms and conditions without reading them. That’s ok. We’ll try to give you the information you need to know. But, it’s not a bad idea for you to read through it entirely on your own as well.

About Privacy Policies and Data Collection by Listening Devices

Just in case you skipped over the privacy policy the first time, or want a refresher, here is the current version of some of the popular services you can read now.

Siri Privacy

Google Privacy

Amazon Alexa Privacy

Skimming through the terms of Siri reveals a couple of insights into the type of data they collect.

Siri collects contact names, relationships and nicknames. It recalls the podcasts and music you enjoy, the names of your devices, names of shared home members, scenes, homes and accessories.

The system also sends people’s names in photos, labels for items, names of reminder lists and alarm names. Siri recalls the shortcuts and apps installed through the system.

But what about Google?

In their lengthy (15 pages or so) privacy policy, Google states that they’ll share personal information outside the network. But only if they have a good-faith belief that disclosure, access, preservation and use are reasonably necessary.

Google may publicly share non-personally identifiable information with partners such as advertisers, publishers, developers or rights holders. For example, Google will share information to show performance, trends and other data highlighting the general use of services.

The search engine giant also says they allow partners to leverage cookies and similar technologies to collect information from your device or browser. This collection is for measurement and advertising purposes.

Remember, privacy policies are not there solely for your sake. They are there for the protection of Google and other organizations that collect your information through devices.

But is that a good reason to stop using these devices? Do you hop into your truck and ride off into the woods?

Do You Need to Worry about Devices Listening to You?

Before you go the extreme route of swearing off all technology, there are two things you should know.

One

You can disable most of the “eavesdropping” features that come with smartphones.

Turn off Siri voice control on iOS devices

Turn off Google Assistant on Android devices

Turn off your phone’s microphone across all applications. iOS and Android devices have settings to control which apps have permission to use the microphone on your phone. For example, you can deny or allow Facebook to use the microphone on your phone. A simple internet search will give you the current instructions for this.

Two

If your essential business data is stolen, it is very unlikely to be through Google, Siri, or Alexa. Or, if your business were to experience a ransomware event, it is very unlikely to be through Google, Siri, or Alexa.

Cybercrime, like data breaches or ransomware, happens when employees unwittingly take actions, such as clicking links in emails that expose the organization. Or it happens due to unpatched computers and other security vulnerabilities. Or it happens due to not having adequate anti-virus or other security software.

There are ways you can monitor, mitigate and reduce the risks of data breaches and ransomware to your organization. Check out our article, the 15 ways to protect your business from a cyber attack, to learn how to implement a layered security plan to protect your business.

Would you rather have Siri listening in and keeping a record of your favorite podcasts or deal with hackers asking for a ransom to keep your business running? It’s an easy choice, really.

Schedule a brief ten-minute call to discuss your concern and situation. We can also conduct a simple security assessment to determine the safety and security of your data and network.

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies opened its doors in 2000 and has been providing managed IT services to companies across industries in Phoenix. Most of our time is spent working on our client’s computers and networks to prevent unexpected interruptions. Our task is to ensure organizations do business with peace of mind. We’re partners to your success!

Contact us today for more information about managed IT services in Phoenix.