Is Your Technology Listening to You?
You’re having a conversation in your home about a product you are interested in. Fast-track to 30 minutes later, you’re scrolling through social media and viola! An advert appears for the product you were just talking about. Is it a coincidence? Many tech users think not!
The technological age has opened the door to a world of possibilities and almost every aspect of our lives have integrated with it – including our homes.
Smart home solutions are becoming more relevant every day as the need for connected home services becomes more prevalent. By investing in a smart home, you essentially allow for almost every feature on your property to be controlled from the tips of your fingertips. This means that tasks like controlling lighting, closing your blinds, turning on security features and even changing the channels on your TV can be linked and controlled from your smartphone and other digital devices.
But with rumours of microchips being snuck into vaccines and cellphones being the new spyware, many people are willing to bet their last rand that their technology is listening to them.
This comes down to smart assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant, which require your microphone to be turned on to enable commands. But are they listening well after your command has been given? How much are they listening to? How much of what they’re listening to is being recorded?
Is Your Technology Spying on You?
The answer is no. But if you still think your privacy may be at risk, it does not mean that you should shy away from the convenience that automation solutions have to offer. There are simple steps you can take to protect your privacy from your devices so you can enjoy the benefits of integrated home solutions stress-free.
Voice Commands and Virtual Assistants
Most people make use of a virtual assistant, to take commands. This is especially convenient if you are controlling various smart features in your home from your phone. But it is possible to manually do this without making use of voice commands. You see, when you download and install a virtual assistant like Siri or Alexa, you essentially agree to the terms and conditions of the service provider. It is, however, illegal for an app to ‘spy’ on you without your consent and this is why you must review the permissions you give to certain services.
Through our automation, we also allow homeowners to:
i.Turn off the AC/HVAC system throughout their house when they leave the house, and reduce the output to save energy.
ii.Automatically turn the AC/HVAC system back on when you are close to the house.
iii.Make sure the underfloor heating isn’t on while they are cooling the room with the AC/HVAC.
iv.Manage and balance solar hot water systems to ensure they give the most output, with the lowest energy cost.
Here are some tips to ensure that your smart devices do not listen to you
Use Apps From Official Stores
Only download virtual assistant apps from an official app store. Google Assistant and Siri are the most popular options but there are more specialised virtual assistants available. Always check your phone settings and review the permissions you have given to certain apps.
Check for Spyware
Speaking of app permissions, go through your phone periodically and search for apps you don’t recognise. Spyware and malware can get installed on your phone through untrusted websites and various phishing attacks. Often this spyware can be hidden in an app that sneaks onto your device and secretly runs in the background.
Delete your Voice History
If every website you visted said ‘ let track you’, obviously you would say hell no! But that is what a cookie is, just with a less obvious name. Cookies track your data to better predict your interests to improve on-site suggestions and experiences for you. Ever wonder why something you Googled appears on Facebook as an ad or how you’ve been cold-called by a salesperson that knows your name? That’s because when you click the ‘accept cookies’ button, you consent for these sites to share and sometimes even sell your data.
Disable your Microphone Permissions
Every smart device has an option to disable permissions which you can find under the settings menu. By doing this for each app, you are essentially disabling the voice command function and would therefore manually have to perform any action on your device.
Don’t let technology control you. Instead, use it to control and simplify your life. Simpletech specialises in designing, installing and programming custom smart home systems to meet your every requirement. Smart home technology dumbs all the complicated stuff and provides you with a single, easy to use interface which enables you to interact with all these electronic services simply and conveniently.