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Vulnerabilities / Threats

2/4/2019
04:30 PM
Steve Zurier
Steve Zurier
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6 Security Tips Before You Put a Digital Assistant to Work

If you absolutely have to have Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant in your home, heed the following advice.



Image Source: Adobe Stock: bht2000

Image Source: Adobe Stock: bht2000

Experienced security pros like Amy DeMartine simply won't allow a digital assistant into her home.

DeMartine, a principal analyst who serves security and risk professionals for Forrester, says last year's reports of so-called "voice squatting" (aka "skill squatting") – where attackers create malicious Amazon Alexa "skills" that appear to be legitimate applications – has her thinking twice about any of these digital assistants. 

"People have to decide what their risk threshold is and configure Alexa or any other digital assistant accordingly," DeMartine says.

According to Candid Wueest, senior principal threat researcher at Symantec, consumers should start by asking the following questions: Do I really need the device, and, if so, what do I need it for? Do I want the device to have a camera to check in on my dog, or am I OK with no camera? And since I already have several devices in my home, do I want to stick with one brand because it's easier to integrate?

Another $64 million question, and this is the big one: Do I trust the vendor?

"This is not an easy one to answer, but, ultimately, you have to trust that the vendor will safeguard your data," Wueest says. 

So if you absolutely have to have Alexa or Google Assistant in your home, heed the following advice from DeMartine, Wueest and Jessica Ortega, a website security research analyst at SiteLock. And if you're a security pro, be sure to educate your customers, too.  

 

Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

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jgallman
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jgallman,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2019 | 9:23:31 AM
Grammar please!
You lose me when the very first sentence is as poorly constructed as this one is.  Her should be their.
t_madison
50%
50%
t_madison,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/18/2019 | 3:26:51 AM
Good advice
Thanks for the advice, it is very useful.
NathanDavidson
50%
50%
NathanDavidson,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2019 | 1:50:29 AM
Beware the Coming of the Robot Age
I would g et an Alexa or AI for the house just to test it out and have a little bit of fun with it. But I'm also a little worried what might happen if I really leave the management of my house up to this little device. It's not so much about the security of it, but about the age of the robots and all that! Haha!
michaelmaloney
50%
50%
michaelmaloney,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2019 | 1:24:26 AM
Too complacent too dangerous
Sometimes consumers are just too complacent about the ready benefits that are being laid out in front of them. Every individual surely knows how to take advantage of each and every single one of them without considering the possible implications underneath. They are willing to forgo any potential risks because somehow the era of IT today has given them the trust they need.
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