CNET recently published an article about four places in your home where you should not place an Amazon Echo. [Although not mentioned, the article would apply equally to a Google Nest device.] Three of the locations were obvious and merit no attention from a privacy perspective – by the sink (water exposure), by the television (“Alexa” being picked up from a commercial or other transmission), or the toilet. What was of note was an admonition against placing the Echo by a window since the device could pick up commands from outside your home. It is not difficult to see the danger or aggravation posed by a scoundrel controlling your door locks, security cameras, and thermostats. Or interior house lights and sounds on Halloween night.

You can easily avoid this security nightmare by muting the microphone on either the Echo or Nest. However, at that point the device becomes little more than an expensive speaker.

Now mindful of the risk, do not place any of your voice-responsive devices where they can be remotely and improperly accessed. At the risk of drawing quizzical stares and head shakings from your neighbors, take a walk around the outside of your residence yelling “Alexa” or “Hey, Google,” then a command. You should feel secure, though maybe a bit foolish, when you get no response.

Or secure and definitely foolish if you own no such devices.

Check out our series, Privacy Perils, to learn what steps you can take to guard your personal and company data. For more information about this topic and other cyber security concerns, please contact a member of our Privacy & Data Security team.