Alexa is Amazon’s artificial intelligence device
Smart home devices have arrived in our living rooms and bedrooms around the world to help us remotely turn off the lights and lock our doors. Now these products are entering a new territory: our home offices.
Big tech companies, including AmazonAnd dead (the parent company of Facebook social networking site) NS google browser, expanding the job applications of smart homeThey are controlled by a group of connected devices that can be accessed remotely.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has blurred the boundaries between people’s home and professional lives. As a result, some workers ask Alexa or the Google Assistant to schedule virtual meetings, keep track of billing goals, or remind them of important events on their work calendars. And while all of these work productivity features can add the convenience of working at home, experts say they also raise security and privacy issues that can cost employees and their businesses if not managed properly.
All the lines were blurry during the pandemic. “Everything turns into screens,” said Mark Keyrouz, vice president and general manager of product marketing for the Display division. Samsung.
Smart home devices like the Echo speaker or the Nest line of smart thermostats, smoke alarms and doorbells are now considered traditional technology, according to research by market research firm International Data. Consumers are also comfortable with the idea of using their smart home device for work purposes: Nearly 50% of the approximately 1,700 surveyed people who work and own a smart home device said they would be willing to use the devices at work. Such as video conference calls or to retrieve the latest sales numbers from software related to connected work.
“Soon, everyone will be able to connect 10 devices to it,” said Mark Ostrovsky, head of engineering at cybersecurity firm Check Point Software. “Ten devices per person in a four-person home – that’s 40 devices for entry,” he said, referring to entry points that could be targets for hackers.
However, major tech companies are hoping to seize the opportunity.
Employees using Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, can join Zoom meetings with a simple voice command on an Amazon smart screen called the Echo Show. Using the same Alexa-enabled devices, they can also be reminded at a specific time of details in to-do lists or appointments for the day, listen to specific music, and have their emails read aloud to which they can respond verbally.
Amazon was courting corporate customers with Alexa for Business, which has helped companies deploy and manage Alexa-enabled devices since 2017. And while it has won clients such as General Electric, Condé Nast media group and the nonprofit Hawaii Pacific Heath healthcare system, the company only lists a dozen corporate clients. And in 2018, WeWork reportedly discontinued the Alexa for Business pilot, though the company hasn’t specified why.
But Alexa-enabled devices have a history of sensitive recordings of conversations. Sometimes a device wakes up after hearing its name, or something similar to its name, even when its users never intended to activate it. These conversations—which may be related to remote work today—are likely to be heard by individuals working to improve Alexa voice recognition if people using their personal enabled devices do not opt out of the lawsuit.
For business customers, Amazon says all interactions with Alexa are anonymous and not associated with any individual user. That is, by default, audio recordings are not saved.
“We definitely see Alexa playing a bigger role at work in the future. Customers are telling us how Alexa helps them do more throughout the day, but helps them work smarter, more productive, and more securely,” says Leron Torres, president of Alexa Smart Properties, at Amazon. .
Google, which also lets users choose human review and save the recording, has a similar history with devices equipped with the voice-activated assistant. Google is also famous for exploiting users’ online activities to serve them better ads.
Similar to Amazon, Google aims to provide workers with productivity tools that can help at work. For example, users can now create actions for the workday that automatically remind them of when they are mentioned in their calendars, as well as when they should take a break or drink water. This feature was released during the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, workers were already able to use Google Assistant for actions such as creating to-do lists and calendar items, storing reminders, and automatically joining video calls on the company’s smart display called Nest Hub Max, which began supporting Zoom at the end of last year.
Facebook wants to enter the “smart office”…
Facebook also wants to be part of the action in the world of work, but it also has its own privacy issues.
The company, which recently changed its name to Meta, said at the start of the pandemic that it had reprioritized the portal. The device, which is powered by its virtual assistant — called the Facebook Assistant — and Alexa, is similar to a tablet and has a smart speaker and camera that tracks people around the room as they chat.
“We had a lot of users who saw their workday consist of logging in and out of various video services,” said Micah Collins, director of product management at Meta. “We saw real vulnerabilities from many Portal users and focused on that.”
Portal users can now use their devices to make video calls to services such as BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, Webex and Zoom. They are also able to integrate their work schedules from services like Google and Microsoft. Companies can also deploy and manage a range of devices for their employees through private business accounts.
But in 2019, Facebook was punished with a historic $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating consumer privacy. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the company after the social networking giant left up to 87 million vulnerable user data to data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica ahead of the 2016 US presidential election. Examine it closely to see how much data it collects from users.
… just like Samsung
Meanwhile, consumer electronics giant Samsung is hoping to have more connected displays that do everything on a standalone device. So employees can use software like Microsoft 365, complement laptop and desktop screens, and watch streaming entertainment as well. This means adding more screens in the homes of more employees. Security experts say more screens mean more connections and more risks.
They say consumers should be careful about mixing their personal and professional data and their devices. Workers may create new opportunities for criminals to steal confidential company information, even if it appears to be well protected by security software.
It could be as simple as breaking into someone’s smart thermostat or a smoke alarm in a person’s home, said Michael Siegel, director of cybersecurity at MIT Sloan. In this case, all they have to do is raise the temperature in the house or turn on the smoke alarm in an attempt to force you to turn off the smoke alarm so that they can steal your home.
“The more we are connected to our office, the more vulnerable we are to social engineering malicious activities,” he said. “All of these things can make you let your guard down.”
In addition to physically stealing a device — and all of its data — criminals will also have more ways to get hold of sensitive company data as people increase the number of devices they connect to, experts say.
“If there is a mechanism for exploitation, the bad guys will try to do it,” says Ari Lightman, professor of digital media and marketing at the Heinz School of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
But perhaps not only workers are increasing their exposure to hackers, but perhaps their employers as well. Smart home devices like Facebook’s Portal should be considered company-provided laptops, and can be easily monitored by employers, said Adam Wright, senior analyst at IDC for information technology and security. For example, free portal devices were offered to Facebook employees after the pandemic began helping with virtual meetings. Wright suggested that the devices should be handled with caution.
“Employers have all the skills to monitor their employees through their devices,” Wright said. “It would be incredibly naive to assume that the same kind of employee monitoring practices used on traditional devices like laptops and smartphones wouldn’t be used on other employer-provided devices like smart screens and smart speakers.”
Workers who use their smart home devices at work have to do a few things, said Pardis Emami-Naeini, a researcher at the University of Washington’s Security and Privacy Research Laboratory. First, they need to learn about the privacy and security of their smart home devices to understand what they might need to do to better protect their data and their business data. These people should also update the device regularly, if it is not updated automatically, to avoid additional security vulnerabilities, just as they do with their smartphones.
Now that the purpose (from the device) are different, they should not assume that the normal practices of their daily behavior will work.” “The purpose is different and the data they share is more confidential.”
Mark Ostrovsky, of Check Point, an Internet security company, said that the responsibility lies not only with the worker, but also with the business owner, who must do everything to protect his data and his network, even if it is someone’s personal device. .
“There is little that needs to be done to protect or harass 10,000 employees to make sure that digital hygiene itself is OK. It is more about how to make sure that when they come into the corporate environment, they don’t get a chance to make a detrimental effect on them.”
It’s still unsafe to use these devices for work purposes, said Janneke van Ooyen, a community manager at a Barcelona gaming company who recently outfitted his home with eight smart lights, a smart speaker and an Amazon Echo Dot.
“Because the data is so sensitive you don’t know where it’s stored — that would be a big concern for me ‘that you don’t use,'” she said. “We work with a lot of licensors, so if something happens, it’s going to be really bad.” / Translation by Anna Maria Dal Luce.
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