Smarthome technology has revolutionized our day-to-day lives. Who doesn't love an internet connected refrigerator that can order milk when we're getting low?
The bad news is, these gadgets aren't always as secure as they need to be. Now, hackers can spy on us and steal our banking details without victims knowing it's happening.
Why your sensitive banking data is at risk
What we're talking about are devices like Google Home, Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot. These gadgets are virtual assistants that stand by, waiting to hear their "wake word" so they can complete a command. Users simply need to say 'Alexa' or 'Hello Google' to activate the assistant.
The problem is, they are always listening. That means that a cybercriminal could hack into the device and listen to everything happening around it. If the user ever orders an item over the phone and the device is listening, the criminal can capture their credit card information.
The criminal could also listen to conversations and find out when families are away on vacation or for an extended period of time and rob their home. Yikes!
How to stop virtual assistants from listening
Whenever you are placing an order over the phone that requires you to read banking details out loud, you must stop your virtual assistant from listening. For privacy, you just need to mute the microphone on any virtual assistant by pressing a physical button.
To turn the mic off, simply press the microphone off/on button on the device. Whenever this button is red, the mic is off. To reactivate it, just press the button again.
Muting the mics will stop the gadget from listening; however, disabling the mics will also defeat the point of these virtual assistants. The always-on, always-listening nature of these smart virtual assistant speakers is what makes them truly compelling gadgets to have.
That said, it's nice to know that you can mute the device during times you specifically don't want anyone (or anything) listening in. Always turn the mic off on these gadgets when you're discussing sensitive information or giving out banking details. It's always better to be safe than sorry.