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How the wrong setting on your home smart speaker can let in burglars

by Kurt Knutsson

I keep seeing a commercial on tv with the two design brothers from HGTV endorsing ADT. In one scene, they tell their home smart speaker to unlock the front door.

Problem? Hell yes.

Burglars can say “Hey ____ unlock the front door” to gain entry to homes equipped with smart locks with no second layer of security.

Unlike the commercial on tv, you must enable additional protections that keep any stranger or crook from screaming the same command through a locked window near the smart speaker.

It starts with tweaking some basic smart home oversights that seem convenient to you and me. Otherwise, you may as well hand criminals the keys to your front door.

Prevent a stranger from using Alexa to unlock your front door.

It’s been proven that Amazon Echo devices along with other home smart speakers have such good hearing that they can detect commands from a voice on the outside of your home.

Just try it. Holler a loud command outside your home with the window closed and chances are it will work. Even if you don’t yet use a smart lock, scream a common command like “Alexa, what time is it?”

“Alexa, open the garage door”.

If you are using any smart locks and access devices that unlock entry points like your garage door, add another layer of protection by adding authentication with a passcode that follows your voice command to open any entry point to your home.

How your smart home speakers become a watch dog

Amazon Echo devices offer free Alexa Guard to alert you while away. When any of its Echo speakers hears glass breaking and a fire/smoke alarm, it sends an instant notification. One great feature lets Alexa Guard randomly turn on and off various smart bulbs and lights throughout your home.

The subscription add-on to the free version called Alexa Guard Plus takes protection to stronger level by connecting a live emergency response center to a human being who can call police, fire and emergency services by voice command. Guard Plus currently $5 per month also can detect people talking, a barking dog and footsteps of a potential intruder heard inside while you are away.

Nest Aware is a similar competing $6 per month subscription that enables Nest cameras and Google Home speakers to notify you if any of your Google-connected devices detect a person on camera, sounds of break glass, and alarm sound of a smoke detector. A human operator can be beckoned on a Google Home speaker to notify police, fire and an ambulance when you call for help.

Take a few moments to make some tweaks to your home security before you leave home next and share these valuable tips with those you love.

 

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