Amazon recently launched a new technology aimed at improving the performance of its devices.
You may not even know it’s there, and some may feel it’s a breach of privacy.
Amazon Sidewalk, launched June 8, uses a portion of your home’s WiFi to create a new network that is shared with other networks using devices such as amazon echo and ring.
Users of these products are automatically enrolled.
Tech expert Marlo Anderson said, “Your WiFi goes so far, it sees that you have an amazon echo, like this little device right here. Pairs with that, and then this device actually then sends out its own signal and then it creates its own little circle so to speak, of area that can be covered.”
This circle includes other devices in your neighborhood.
“Somebody could actually break into that person’s router, then start seeing the devices that are connected to it. Because if you ever go into your router, you could see a list of all the devices, well all of a sudden, your devices are my devices now, even though I’ve hardened my house,” said Anderson.
Ashskan Soltani, former Chief Technologist at the FTC, said, “People pay a service fee to their cable provider, or their cellphone provider for these services right so for Amazon to help themselves to that bandwidth is pretty questionable, I think.”
Soltani also said that this should be an opt-in feature.
Anderson said that without proper password protection on your devices, neighbors may even be able to access your Amazon device’s cameras.
“They can start using this back door through lightbulbs or through doorbells, or through devices like an echo,” said Anderson.
He said passwords that come with the devices are pretty standard, and easy to breach.
He said, “There are actually websites dedicated to cameras, for example, so people that have never changed their password that came out of the box, and you can go on there, there’s like 20,000 cameras in North Dakota alone that do not have protection on them.”
He also said changing your device’s passwords can help protect your privacy.
Those that want to opt-out of the feature can go into their Amazon app or Ring app and turn the feature off.