Cyber experts warn smart devices are always listening

Cyber experts are sharing warnings ahead of Christmas about smart devices listening to your conversations.

Cyber experts warn smart devices are always listening
Tech and cyber experts warn of security concerns with smart devices. (Source: Mike Stewart)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Are you planning to get a new TV, or an Amazon Alexa for Christmas? A new warning from cyber experts shows your smart technology could be spying on you.

Cyber experts warn smart devices are always listening

“It’s constantly listening,” said cyber expert Paul Sems, with TrustedSec in Strongsville.

Devices like smart TV’s, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home are designed for convenience so you can ask about the weather or find your favorite channel, but tech experts warn, these devices aren’t just honing in on the keywords. They’re actually listening 24/7.

“From the voice data, they collect it, process it. According to their privacy policy they immediately destroy it," Sems explained.

Sems showed us what happens when you need to update your device. The first step is agreeing to the devices privacy policy.

If you agree, you’re allowing the company to not only listen to you 24/7, but also collect data like your viewing habits and email addresses.

With all your personal information in hand, Sems said, those companies then sell your data.

“Those companies are actually using that data as a revenue source," Sems said.

Sems explained that’s how you can get a $2,000 TV for only a couple hundred bucks.

“If you’re going to have private conversations about sensitive topics, probably don’t do it around one of those devices," Sems warned.

If you don’t agree to the privacy policy, you can still use the device, but you will likely not be able to use features like voice command.

Beyond selling your personal data, there’s also the fear of hackers.

Sems recommends changing your passwords and using multi-factor authentication.

“Those two things alone can significantly reduce the risk to you," Sems said.

If you have a TV with a camera, the FBI recommends putting a piece of tape over it if you’re worried about your privacy.

Other federal watchdog groups and congress are continuing to look at ways to keep your personal info safe.

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