Is Your Home Ready for Voice-Controlled Security?
Smart voice-activated devices for home use come in many different shapes. They have become very popular in the last few years. After smartphones, voice-based technologies are the next big step.
To put it simply, they are built-in voice recognition systems that the user can interact with. Users save a voice command in the system to activate the assistant. They can then interact with the smart speakers using just their voice. They can ask it questions or request that it start playing music, as well as read out recipes and control other smart devices. Some of them are equipped with cameras that can be operated remotely, while others allow you to order goods online using just your voice.
Voice-controlled security systems make life easier. The range of activities carried out by these speakers means that an outsider, or even just a visiting friend, can cause problems if he or she gains access. So the question now is, should you upgrade your home to voice-controlled systems?
Here are a few things to consider before installing voice-controlled security systems.
Triggering Wrong Voice Commands and Placing Orders
As the regular interaction is through voice commands, anyone who is in speaking distance can interact with a voice-activated smart speaker. With just a voice prompt, the command is executed by the system. This means a curious neighbor can add an alarm for three o’clock in the morning by shouting through your locked door.
As smart speakers also react to similar-sounding trigger words, accidental triggering can be expected. The same happens when voice commands are embedded in streaming music services or websites. TV advertisements have already made use of this technique, triggering devices before with the relevant wakeup word to promote their products.
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Probably one of the biggest worries for smart-speaker owners is that someone can use the device to make a purchase without them realizing, and this is indeed a danger. There have been some reports of children ordering toys through Alexa without their parents’ knowledge.
To prevent accidental shopping, the voice assistant will ask to confirm the purchase, but if the child really wants it, they may carry out this step as well. Unfortunately, in this scenario, an extra passcode for orders doesn’t help much either, as children have a good memory and learn quickly.
Someone with unsupervised physical access to your smart speaker can modify the device to his or her benefit. But that’s true for most online tools. It’s just as important to secure the home Wi-Fi network and all other devices connected to it. Malware on a compromised laptop can attack smart speakers in the same local system and reconfigure them without the need for a password.
As a basic guideline, you should not connect security functions like opening door locks to voice-activated smart speakers. If you do, a burglar can simply say “Open the front door,” which would be bad for not only your digital security but also your physical security.
The same applies to sensitive information. These devices shouldn’t be used to remember passwords or credit card data. Most of the more significant issues can be avoided by proper configuration and deciding how much information should be linked to the device.
The fact that smart speakers are always active and tuning in to your every move brings up a lot of privacy concerns. It’s crucial to note recordings are sent to servers once the wakeup word has been heard, and they are also sent over a secure connection. That is, of course, if the device is working as designed.
All current devices provide the option to listen to previous recordings and delete them if required. This also means that you should protect your linked account with strong passwords. Anyone who has access to the account can listen in remotely. These are all considerations to think about.
Voice-controlled security has its own benefits but also comes with a few risks. For your own sake, choose the most viable choice for you according to your current living conditions.
There’s always the option to stick with what’s already working instead of going for something that you may not have full control of. Traditional security measures encourage keeping standard lockpicks at home at all times. It may not be cutting-edge technology like voice-controlled systems, but it is definitely reliable and offers no real danger in keeping your privacy.