Why You Shouldn’t Let Smart Devices Outsmart You

It doesn’t matter if you live in the countryside or in the city, your life is permeated by gadgets and smart devices every day. From the smartphones we use for communication and to consume media and entertainment, to your refrigerator, vacuum cleaner and thermostat, everything operates according to smart technology which most of us don’t understand.

There’s a growing trend of disillusionment with smart devices as most people realize that they’re not capable of fully comprehending how these devices work. A lot of people are starting to mistrust their smart devices. This is part of the reason why the following meme went viral:

meme

The truth is that people are waking up to the reality that there’s a possibility of smart devices outsmarting you. Plus using them can limit personal security and privacy to a degree. Unfortunately, they’re so pervasive that it’s impossible to completely avoid them. Instead of trying to remove smart devices from our lives completely, maybe the best thing to do is educate ourselves about how they work. This way we can cultivate a healthy relationship with the electronic devices and gadgets we use on a daily basis. 

Attention: Read before you continue

Governments and ISPs across the world monitor their users online activities. If found streaming or browsing content on your Fire TV Stick, mobile or PC, you could get into serious trouble.

Currently, the following information is visible: 

  • Your IP: 3.216.79.60
  • Your Country:  United States
  • Your City: Ashburn
  • Your ISP: Amazon Technologies Inc.

If this is your real information, you need to use a VPN to protect your identity.

We strongly recommend you to get a good VPN and hide your identity so that your online experience doesn’t take a bad turn.
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Here are the reasons why you must use a VPN all the time.

Will Smart Devices Record Your Conversations?

smart speakers

In addition to the smartphone in your pocket, you probably have a Google Home or Amazon Echo device. These devices can transform any house into a smartphone. They allow you to control the lights and temperature, open the blinds and control other aspects of your house from a central location. You can also use them to play games and music, ask the time, and make restaurant reservations. You can even control the music playing throughout your house.

These devices feature a built-in speaker which is always waiting for you to say the magic words “wake” to awaken it. While it’s safe to assume that most of these devices stay asleep when not in use, we have no way to guarantee that they’re recording our conversations. Or watching everything that happens in your home.

Both Google and Amazon, the manufacturers behind these devices, have come out saying that they don’t record or listen to conversations. But, a recent murder case in Arkansas has most of us scratching our heads. Not only did Amazon exercise their First Amendment rights by refusing to provide recordings from the device that was present at the murder scene, they didn’t deny the existence of a recording. 

In another case, an Amazon Echo user asked the company to supply him with all the data they’d collected from his device. They sent him a conversation which was recorded in a friend’s home through another Echo device.

These incidents show us that:

  • The Amazon Echo device does record and save conversations even while it’s “asleep.”
  • The data that Amazon has on its users isn’t very secure.

Let’s not forget that it was recently reported that Amazon employees are privy to Alexa conversations. Some of the company’s terms of use allow them to share consumer data with third-party developers. Google, on the other hand, sends the transcribed text of what the device has recorded and not the audio itself.

Either way, it’s pretty clear that these devices do eavesdrop on user conversation. And that’s definitely an area of concern. This is because it’s one of the many ways you may feel like you’re allowing smart devices outsmart you.

Why You Could Be Trading Price for Privacy with Smart TVs

smart tv

In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission released a report which confirmed that Vizio Smart TV devices spy on their owners.

After this report, most people thought that buying TV sets from other manufacturers protected them from this type of interference. But we now know that all smart TVs feature the same technology, which is known as Automated Content Recognition (ACR). This technology accumulates data on your viewing habits, including the shows and movies you watch. It also includes any DVDs and other content you consume through your smart TV.

It’s important to note that ACR tech is part of the reason why smart TVs are so affordable. By paying a lower price, you’re inadvertently agreeing to share your data.

Even if your TV doesn’t have “smart” functions it can still be affected by this technology. If you use a Chromecast, Apple TV, or Roku device with your TV then you’ll feel the effects of ACR technology. The same goes for anyone that watches content through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

It’s up to you to decide whether or not this is a worthy trade.

Are You Willing to Trade Privacy?

While you might be okay with the notion of Amazon or Google or Microsoft listening in on your life, you must admit that it is somewhat disconcerting. With the way things are looking, your information could easily end up in the wrong hands and if you’re a private person who values their personal safety, then you should give this issue some thought.

Of course, we’re not saying to throw the baby out with the bathwater. While there’s no denying that digital eavesdropping and data theft is a real concern, smart devices have brought us a lot of convenience overall.

How to Outsmart Smart Devices

smart devices 2

The reality is that smart devices aren’t going anywhere. Once you familiarize yourself with them, you’ll wonder how you went through life without this technology. They have a way of permeating your life to the point that you just need to look for ways to coexist with them instead of pushing against their existence.

The good news is that organizations such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center are lobbying for better disclosure legislation, especially where smart devices are concerned. However, it’s also your responsibility as a consumer to educate yourself about how your devices work and what kind of information might be collected from you.

Here are some helpful tips and tricks that’ll help you protect your privacy. This way you won’t let smart devices outsmart you.  

1. Disable ACR on Smart TVs

This is the first thing you should do when you purchase a smart TV and it’s so easy that even the NY Times released a tutorial on how to do it. A great way to reinforce this step would be to disconnect your TV from Wi-Fi or internet connectivity.

2. Use Smart Speakers Safely

With regards to smart speakers, use the mute button, disable messaging features and refrain from providing them with your contact list.

3. Turn Off Features You Don’t Need

Just because your washing machine or cooker has Bluetooth connectivity doesn’t mean you should connect it to your phone. In fact, you don’t have to use all the features that come with your devices.

4. Make Sure Your Wi-Fi is Safe

Each Wi-Fi device comes with default credentials. It’s crucial that you change your router’s username and password with stronger and personal versions that are difficult to guess.  

5. Update Software

It’s crucial that you update the operating system manufacturer’s app on your smart devices. This is a great way to stay ahead of the curve and avoid letting smart devices outsmart you.

Do You Feel Safer Now?

The Internet of Things is still a very new phenomenon for most of us. And there’s so much data available on it that it can be confusing at first. You probably don’t even know where to start half the time. But you’ll definitely benefit from staying updated on how to use smart devices in order to protect yourself from possible interference.

If you’re going to connect your devices to Wi-Fi, at least make use of a VPN such as IPVanish. This’ll effectively hide details like your location, browsing history, the credentials you enter while online etc. That means no-one will be able to see what you’re watching, streaming or downloading online.

Did you find this article on how to not let smart devices outsmart you helpful? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Jolly Thomas
Jolly Thomas
1 year ago

Thank you for educating me

Ralph Powers
Ralph Powers
1 year ago

Fantastic article, confirms many suspicions I suspected and than some !

Will
Will
1 year ago

How does one change their default credentials on their router for a new password and username? Should I contact Netgear the company of my router?

barry
barry
1 year ago
Reply to  Will

you put your ip address in the address bar of your browser you log in and go to security settings and change the password if you have trouble doing this just search on youtube how to change password on netgear router

William Herbst
William Herbst
1 year ago

We already done the things you have suggested , but it is good of you to put it out for your subsribers , for people to know . Good for you to give information for people who don’t know they are being watched .

Bob
Bob
1 year ago

Very interesting and reminds us just how complacent we become when we’ve had these smart devices a short time and take them for granted.

Carlos cortes
Carlos cortes
1 year ago

Great article, i found it extremely informative and concerning. Thank you

Gary
Gary
1 year ago

Thank you so much for your informative email, it is always good to review safety cautions!

Larraine
Larraine
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary

Thank you for the info.

B. Jones
B. Jones
1 year ago

I found it very helpful. Thank you. I have been disconnecting content sharing wherever possible, but WiFi is a different story. And I do utilize a VPN.

Jim
Jim
1 year ago

Excellent article!

Peter Haselden
Peter Haselden
1 year ago

Very intriguing

Charlene
Charlene
1 year ago

Thank You for this interesting information!!!

Wendell Williams
Wendell Williams
1 year ago

INCREDIBLE INFO! Thanks for bringing this old man up to speed! I trust all of my devices up to reading this article. I now have the knowledge to be able keep the majority of my digital footprints at a minimum!?

Jose A Perez
Jose A Perez
1 year ago

Yes it was very helpful an I really appreciate your hard work

PB
PB
1 year ago

Yes helpful cheers

Tom Edwards
Tom Edwards
1 year ago

Superb advice/information although obviously troubling. Keep up the good work.

Gina
Gina
1 year ago

When I use vpn I can’t play most prime movies why?

Bob A.
Bob A.
1 year ago
Reply to  Gina

IP Vanish recently added a great update. in settings, you can toggle on and off the apps you need the VPN for. This allows you to watch those blocked apps without having to turn off and back on the VPN every time you switch apps. A great upgrade!

Debby
Debby
1 year ago

So how do you turn off the ACR on your TV so that they won’t be able to listen in.
I knew somewhat of this smartness on my TV when I look up one day while watching tv and it ask me if l was still watching did I want to exit from the program that I was watching. I assume it was bodyheat sensitive because I wasn’t moving around just bengewatching.

Dee
Dee
9 months ago
Reply to  Debby

Hi Debby, I think that might have been some kind of timer you have activated on your TV. Mine use to do that too. I think it was an angry saver timer. Hope this helps.

Cosie
Cosie
1 year ago

Great article.Very informative.
Thanks for the heads up.

Mike W
Mike W
1 year ago

Love the information, thanks a lot. I have a printer that’s connected via wiFi and I have to turn off my VPN on some sites before it will print anything from said site.

Roy
Roy
1 year ago

A big thank you for all your articles, always very informative about keeping spying eyes away and always been using a VPN other than when watching Netflix.

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