Alexa-enabled devices are proliferating, in part because they're useful when your hands are full or you need to do something else. But as they keep appearing in homes, businesses, and everywhere else, people are beginning to worry about security. Here's how to manage your Alexa security.
General Alexa Security and Privacy
First, focus on the basics. Make sure your Amazon account, Wi-Fi network, and other internet networks have strong, secure passwords hackers won't be able to easily guess. Regularly update the firmware of your router and other physical internet infrastructure to protect against exploits, too.
In terms of privacy, place your Alexa away from areas you'd rather it not potentially overhear conversations, such as bedrooms or bathrooms. Keep it in public areas, and when you're discussing something sensitive in these areas, disable the microphone by pressing the Mute button on top of the device.
You'll know an Amazon Echo device is muted when the ring is red, and with other devices, like the Sonos One, an LED under a microphone icon will be off.
To disable the camera on devices like the Echo Spot and the Echo Show, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Settings > Device Options, then tap the Enable Camera toggle to off.
Choose Alexa Skills Carefully
Just like you shouldn't download apps to your phone without looking at what the app wants to get access to, you shouldn't download skills to Alexa you don't trust.
For the skills you've already downloaded, you can see what permissions they've accessed.
Open your Alexa app and tap Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Skill Permissions.
You'll see a menu of permissions skills can request. Tap the permission and you'll see a list of skills that use it. Turn this permission off with the toggle to the right of the skill.
For any skills you no longer want to collect data, ask Alexa to disable them. For example, if you wanted to shut off Lyft, you would say "Alexa, disable Lyft."
Removing Amazon's Data Access From Alexa
Another way to manage Alexa security is to prevent your device from sending data to Amazon. You do this from the same menu you check Alexa skill permissions on. Tap Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa and disable Use Voice Recordings To Help Develop New Features and Use Messages To Improve Transcriptions. This will limit what data and recordings your Alexa sends to Amazon directly.
Enabling a Voice PIN for Alexa
If you want to limit the ability of others in your household to buy items using their voice from Alexa, you can enable a voice PIN.
Go to Settings > Alexa Account > Voice Purchasing.
If you want to disable voice purchasing completely, turn off Purchase by voice.
If you don't have 1-Click enabled on Amazon, voice purchasing won't function. Consider disabling 1-Click as well if you're concerned about unwanted purchases.
Enable Voice Code and set a PIN.
The PIN will be visible in the app's settings. Be sure your phone is secured and not physically accessible.
Tap Kid Skills Purchasing and disable it, if you're concerned about children adding skills without your permission.
How to Delete Recordings From Your Alexa
Alexa offers two tools with recordings. One lets you delete the recording, but the other is just as important, as it lets you tell Alexa what to listen to and what not to. A little time spent refining this will limit false recordings and improve your privacy.
Open your Alexa app, then select Settings > Alexa Account > History.
This will open a menu with all the information Alexa has recorded. There's no delete-all function, so you'll need to delete each command individually. Tap on the little arrow to the right of the recording, then Delete Recording.
Before you delete the recording, answer the question "Did Alexa Do What You Want?" Tap Yes to train your Alexa to pay attention to these requests, or tap No to teach it to ignore those requests. This will help limit unnecessary recordings.
Changing Wake Words for Alexa
If you don't want your device to react to the word "Alexa," say "Alexa, change the wake word." You'll be able to choose from a list of wake words, depending on the device.
Changing the wake word shouldn't be considered a strong security feature. The list of words is widely accessible online and someone can simply go down the list until the device reacts.