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WFH Meeting tip

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WFH Meeting tip


Revised editor-in-chief David Kender shares creative ways to keep your kids engaged while you stay at home.


A reminder for those working from home: you can disable Amazon or Google smart home speakers or, at the very least, mute the microphone.

What most people forget is that Alexa and Google Assistant are always listening. Sure, they only come to life after you pronounce "Alexa" or "Hey, Google", but what happens when you put those words in the middle of the sentences?

You will be recorded.

Amazon and Google record all interactions, even if you don't ask a specific question, and the recordings are stored on Amazon and Google servers. (You have the option to enter and erasing recordings after the fact.)

Speakers are sometimes awakened by words that they confuse with those that are awake. According to a recent study of University of Northeast, the connected speakers went into action many times based on these errors. The university found that words that rhymed with "k" and sounded like Alexa, like "exclamation", woke up the speaker and started recording.

The great thing about having an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker in your home is that you can use your voice to play the radio, turn smart lights on and off, control your TV and more.

Hey Alexa, which speaker should I buy? (Photo: Amazon)

Snoops: It's not you, it's them: Google, Alexa and Siri can answer even if you haven't called

Monitor: Hey, Google and Alexa, how easy is it to take control?

But now you're at home at work, handling confidential information that your employer may not want to record on Google and Amazon.

You can say something innocuous like "Hey, Google, turn off the lights" or "Alexa, what time is it?" And there is no problem.

The question is what happens when you put the warning words in a normal conversation. It is then that you will be recorded. Snippets are sent directly to Google and Amazon.

Imagine that you say something like "Amazon and Alexa decimated our company, now we are out of money and we don't know what to do". Or use the same or similar phrase, replace Alexa with Google.

(We did this very Monday, as an example, and the recording is now being stored by Amazon.)

New to work at home (WFH)? Do you have an Alexa or similar device that may be listening to confidential business conversations? Be cybernetic! #cyber#infosecurity#WFH

– Ian Schneller (@SchnellerIan) March 26, 2020

According Bloomberg, a leading UK law firm has asked home-based employees to silence or turn off their devices when discussing customer matters.

"We may be being a little paranoid, but we need to have a lot of confidence in these organizations and these devices," Joe Hancock, Mishcon de Reya's partner, told Bloomberg. "We prefer not to take those risks."

Bret Kinsella, editor of the Voicebot.ai website, thinks that concerns about eavesdroppers are "exaggerated".

Amazon and Google "have no interest in mining data about what you're talking about at home. People are trying to find a way to be indignant about it, but it's just a false awakening problem. The stretches aren't going anywhere. . "

To play it safe, you have four options, says Kinsella:

• Go ahead and let Amazon and Google speakers play music for you.

• Mute the microphones. Focus on your work and, if you need to listen to music, use some headphones and turn off the microphones. It is a simple change.

• Simply disconnect the speakers.

• Change the alert word. Amazon has three options: Alexa, Amazon or Computer. Google doesn't have that many options: just "OK, Google" or "Hey, Google".

Follow Jefferson Graham of USA TODAY (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter

Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/04/06/amazon-google-could-record-info-work-home/2955011001/


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