An Amazon Echo device, along with its intelligent Alexa virtual assistant, is capable of performing numerous tasks and has become a welcomed addition to many homes across the globe.
However, many people are concerned whether these devices could be used for slightly more sinister reasons, such as eavesdropping or secret filming, so is it possible to spy on someone using Alexa?
Alexa can be used to spy on someone by using the drop-in feature, which allows you to instantly connect to an Amazon Echo device without the recipient having to answer your call. However, the recipient has to permit you, and their drop-in feature needs to be enabled.
Many apps let you check up on your spouse, kids, or employees, and the reasoning varies; from the safety of the kids, to checking on the employees' productivity, and so on.
Let's investigate how Amazon Alexa could be used as a spy tool, and if you're concerned that someone may be spying on you with Alexa's help, we'll also look at how you can prevent this from happening.
Can You Spy On Someone With Alexa?
Using your Echo device or the Amazon Alexa or Reverb app, you can get Alexa to drop in on a linked device and listen to conversations or view individuals with the camera (if the device is an Echo Show).
The drop-in feature can start an instant conversation between devices, but one could also abuse it to spy on their contacts.
To make communication between friends and families more convenient, Amazon created the drop-in feature. You don't have to 'answer' any calls for the devices to pair up after the initial request for consent from all users involved.
Additionally, there is another feature called Alexa Guard that enables an Echo device to hear the sounds of breaking glass or alarms when you are away from home.
You can say, "Alexa, I am leaving," and the Guard turns to "Away mode." Alexa will then listen to the surrounding sounds and notify your phone's Amazon Alexa app if there are any unusual sounds.
Amazon never intended these features to be used for spying, and the company has clarified that more innovative features improve the product.
Many people use Alexa to spy on their cheating spouses or teenage kids but what one does with the product is not in Amazon's hands. After all, it is not their fault when customers use it for the wrong purposes.
How Can Alexa Be Used To Spy On Someone?
Once the drop-in feature is enabled on an Alexa device and someone has permitted you to drop in at any time, you can listen to and even see that person remotely, depending on the Echo device model.
Simply ask Alexa to drop in on that individual's Echo device. Check out this YouTube video on how Alexa could be used to spy on someone.
On your smartphone, open the Alexa app, and select "Drop-In" from the message menu in the bottom right corner.
If you have an Alexa Echo Show, it will ask whether you want to make a video or an audio call.
As soon as you choose an option, Alexa will instantly connect you to the device, and you will be able to listen and see its surroundings, depending on whether it is a Dot or Show.
Problems With Spying Using Alexa
If you intend to use Alexa to spy on someone, you should know that Alexa is not a spying device. So, there are some drawbacks to using it as a spy device:
- The recipient's device will start flashing green lights and ring whenever you try to drop in.
- They must be close to their Echo device for you to see or hear them.
- To do drop-ins to an Alexa device, you first have to get authorized by the target user.
- You won't be able to drop in if someone's device is set to the do not disturb mode.
Alexa also does two-way communication. So if you manage to drop into an Alexa device, then the target phone user will also be able to listen to you and see you on their Alexa Show screen (unless you mute your microphone and close your camera).
Are There Better Ways To Spy On Someone Than Using Alexa?
If you intend to spy on someone, you should be aware of the potential consequences, as the person you spy on may consider this a breach of their privacy and take legal action against you.
If you still choose to spy on someone, using a spy app is the best and most stealthy way to do it.
You will only need to install a spy app on the individual's phone, and that's it. You will then be able to spy on everything they do on their cell phones.
You can do anything from spying on their call logs to getting messages from their phone to yours.
If you want to listen to their surroundings and watch them live, you will also be able to do it because many spy apps come with recorder features.
Is It Possible To Hack Alexa To Listen In On Conversations?
Yes, hackers can hack into your Alexa device and gain access to personal data and listen in on previously recorded or live conversations. These hacks are widely known, leaving users vulnerable to a hack by a malicious individual.
There are a few common ways Alexa can be hacked to listen in on your pre-recorded or live conversations with the interactive device.
Sending the user a fake link that, when clicked, grants the hacker access to the user's voice history in the Alexa app is a common and simple method of voice history hacking.
The hacker can use your audio files to create sophisticated audio forgeries and even trick audio verification systems.
The Alexa Echo and other smart devices are designed and programmed to pick up sounds that are undetectable to human ears.
By using hardware with frequencies that would enable them to cause some commotion around your device, hackers might be able to command your Alexa device to perform any task.
How Can You Stop Someone From Spying On You With Alexa?
One or more of these choices ought to be beneficial to Alexa owners to prevent any spying that may be happening inside your home. Here are some practical suggestions to stop any potential spying:
- Mute your Echo's microphone. This will, however, make Alexa deaf to all your requests.
- Turn off the Amazon “Drop-In” feature.
- Turn on the notification sound that alerts you when someone drops in on your Echo device.
- Switch off or unplug your Echo device or keep the device away from you when you want some privacy.
- Delete your Alexa voice recordings using the app. You can also set Alexa to delete your voice recordings automatically.
- Use the built-in privacy shutter to close the camera if you own an Echo Show device.
Amazon created the drop-in feature to allow close friends and relatives to communicate quickly. If you have privacy concerns about this feature, you can manage your account settings within the Alexa app to meet your specific needs.
Can Alexa's Recordings Be Used As Evidence In Court?
Yes, recordings made by an Alexa-enabled smart device may be used in court if they have the potential to provide substantial evidence.
However, the court will consider all expert analyses in determining the legitimacy and authenticity of the retrieved recordings.
The 2019 Hallandale murder investigation is a recent illustration of such a circumstance.
Amazon has made it clear that it respects all its users' privacy at all times and that it will not divulge any information unless required by a binding court order.
Courts have previously been stricter about the integrity of the evidence gathered as Alexa recordings began to appear as witnesses in criminal and other cases.
Security Issues With Alexa And Echo Devices
Smart devices that are Internet-connected and voice-activated have experienced some security problems in recent years.
The security of these gadgets, particularly the Echo, has been put to the test by some researchers.
Researchers searched for vulnerabilities and discovered that the Echo's microphone turns on when the wake word is used over the Internet.
These researchers were able to compile all the data they required by making use of the default features provided to developers. They didn't even need to hack anything to succeed.
Researchers used a typical hacker attack in their study. They created a calculator-like app with a lot of functionality hidden inside.
After asking Alexa a mathematical question, the app would keep the Echo microphone active even after the command prompt had closed, allowing the researchers to record any activity after that.
Using the drop-in feature to listen in on or watch someone, you could theoretically use Alexa to spy on them.
However, this is difficult because Alexa will notify the recipient by playing a notification sound and flashing its lights continuously when you drop in.
Furthermore, you can't just drop in on anyone; to use the feature, your friends or family must add you to their list of drop-in contacts.