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How To Stop Your Smart Devices From Listening To You How To Stop Your Smart Devices From Listening To You

How To Stop Your Smart Devices From Listening To You

How To Pat Stanley

Is Google listening to me? Does Alexa spy on you? Are my smart devices listening to me?... How To Stop Your Smart Devices From Listening To You

Is Google listening to me? Does Alexa spy on you? Are my smart devices listening to me?Do you find yourself asking these questions? Voice-enabled technology is not something new but the introduction and success of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa has definitely highlighted it. It can even be said these virtual talking assistants have helped in paving the way in making voice-enabled technology widespread today.

 

Stopping Voice Assistants from Listening To You

Having a voice or virtual assistant certainly has its advantages especially in terms of convenience. Security experts believe it to be a major risk component since it is a new avenue with which people can hack into your device.

Most virtual assistants require a voice command or wake-up prompt for them to activate. Once running, they can record and store just about anything. This could mean a forgotten audio file may be sniffed and grabbed by botnets. This is one scenario that would certainly trigger uncertainties with use of voice assistants. 

We’re not saying you should stop utilizing them altogether. We strongly advise you to take a closer look at how they work. You must also familiarize yourself to avoid becoming unwitting victims of data compromise. Here’s a deeper rundown on some of the vulnerabilities brought about by voice assistants. 

  • Eavesdropping

Virtual or digital assistants utilize voice recognition as their primary technological interface which means they are eavesdropping on you. This, unfortunately, also means hackers can utilize them as a listening device to access confidential information.

  • “Surfing Attacks”

A “Surfing Attack” is a method of infiltrating voice assistants via inaudible ultrasonic waves. It can exploit different smartphone features even without touching the device.

  • Privacy Compromise

Another vulnerability to the virtual talking assistant technology lies in the authentication and verification systems. What happens to everything these devices and assistance record? Is your information and files secure? In recent years, it was revealed there are Amazon employees whose job is to listen to user Alexa recordings

 

Is Alexa Listening All The Time? (Amazon Devices)

Stopping listening on Amazon Devices

Amazon smart devices like Echo utilize the virtual assistant Alexa. While it should only be activated with a wake word, there have been instances where it was found to be recording even without being prompted. So, does this equate to Amazon Alexa spying? If the claims of Alexa spying are true, can Alexa privacy even be trusted?

It is important to be well-versed or at least know where to look in regards to Alexa Privacy terms and their features. If Alexa listening without your consent is indeed true, knowing the privacy features will add a layer of protection.

  • Mute Button

The mute button either looks like a microphone or  circle with a line through it. Activate the mute button especially when you’re not actively utilizing your smart device.

  • Make Privacy Settings Less “helpful”

This will restrict Amazon on how they can handle your voice data. Just go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage How Your Data Improves Alexa. Turn “off” Help Develop New Features and Use Messages to Improve Transcriptions to make your recorded commands less accessible.

  • Wipe Voice History

While this won’t stop Alexa from listening in on your conversations, this will wipe the history data Amazon has on file. Just go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History. Tap the Date Range box > All History > Delete All Recordings for All History. Learn more about how to do this here

 

Turn Off Listening On iPhone and Android Smartphones

Smartphones are among the products of technological advancements most utilize across the world. A smartphone could even be said as an extension of a person. This is in the sense that the small handheld device could contain every relevant, even confidential, information about an individual. 

With additional features like Siri and Google Assistant, a smartphone can even be one’s ‘personal assistant’. These features utilize a smartphone’s microphone which leads some to the questions – Is My Phone Listening To Me? Is Google spying on me? (or Siri, depending on the device). If you are uncomfortable about this, opt to stop these features. It would also be best to familiarize yourself with Siri and Google Assistant privacy terms.

For iOS Devices

    • Turn Off Siri (iOS 11 & Above)
      • Go to Settings
      • Tap Siri & Search
      • Deselect Listen for “Hey Siri”, Press Home for Siri and Allow Siri When Locked
      • Tap Turn Off Siri when prompted

    • Turn Off Siri on iOS 10
      • Go to Settings
      • Tap on General
      • Click on Siri
      • Tap on Turn Off Siri

    • Turn Off Dictation
      • Go to Settings
      • Tap on General
      • Select Keyboard
      • Deselect the Enable Dictation Feature

On iPhones, you can also opt to clear your Siri History

 

For Android Devices

If you have Android devices like Samsung, simply:

    • Stop “Ok Google” Talking Assistant
      • Go to Settings
      • Tap on Google
      • Under Services, tap on Search

If you have Google Pixel, you can:

    • Stop Google Assistant
      • Go to Settings
      • Tap on Apps and Notifications
      • Click on Assistant
      • Then deselect Google Assistant

 

Does Google Listen to Me?

Stopping listening on Google Devices

So, is Google spying on you? More specifically, does Google Home spy on you? Google Home is a useful device similar to the Amazon Echo and it’s also voice-activated. Google Home privacy concerns arise from the smart devices ‘listening’ even when not told to. Google Home always listening is supposedly to help improve their capability in improving voice commands and device settings. Some believe, though, that this is just Google spying on them.

There are ways for you to keep track of audio recordings from Google Home. You can even delete the audio recordings or turn off the audio recording feature altogether. Of course, the simplest way to stop Google Home from recording is by turning off your device’s microphone by locating the mute button and activating it.

To delete audio recordings, follow these steps.

  • Go to https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity.
  • Under Activity Controls, go to the Web & App Activity section.
  • Select Manage Activity to view all activities. The audio recording will have the icon next to it.
  • Press the three dots next to the activity (audio recording).
  • Click Delete.

 

To turn off audio recordings altogether, simply:

 

Do Smart TVs Listen to Everything?

Televisions have greatly evolved through the years. One of the latest innovations is the so-called Smart Televisions or simply Smart TVs. Smart TVs enable users to connect to the internet as well as different applications. Another one of its features is its ability to recognize voice commands and perform tasks. So, users can just say what they want to watch or tell the device to raise the volume and voila – your voice is now the remote control.

Some Smart TVs will only listen to the voice they recognize which is cool but has its own set of challenges. As helpful as they are, Smart TVs, like other devices with listening capabilities can expose you and your home to several security vulnerabilities. The good thing is, Smart TVs typically have an option to turn off voice recording. The steps may vary depending on the product or brand.

Samsung Smart TV

With a Samsung Smart TV, there are several ways to turn off the voice recording feature. 

For newer models, you can:

  1. Go to Home then Settings.
  2. Under the System option, select Expert Settings.
  3. Turn off Voice Instruction

With older models of Samsung Smart TV, you may do so by doing the following:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Smart Features.
  3. Select Voice Recognition then switch off.

Another way to do this is by doing the following steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to Support.
  3. Navigate to Terms & Policies
  4. “Disagree” with the policies for Viewing Information Services, Voice Recognition Services, and Nuance Voice Recognition and Privacy Notices.

 

LG Smart TVs

With newer webOS TVs:

  1. Go to Settings then General.
  2. Go to About This TV then User Agreements.
  3. Opt-out of Viewing Information, Personal Advertising, and/or Voice Information (this disables voice control)

On older LG TVs, you can:

  1. Go to Settings then Options.
  2. Toggle off LivePlus.

 

Sony TVs

If you are using Sony TVs, you can:

  1. Go to Home then Settings.
  2. Select TV- About then Legal Information. 
  3. View and opt to disagree with the Privacy Policy (Disable Upload Data for older Sony TVs). 

 

Are Cell Phone Apps Always Listening?

Nowadays, it’s not just the phone or device itself that has listening abilities. Even various applications can ‘listen in’ on your conversations. Keep in mind that phone apps, by default, will ‘opt in’ for you to allow them access to data. This is why it’s important to be extra vigilant when it comes to the permissions you ‘allow’ or give to the applications you use.

Most of the time, users don’t really pay close attention to the permissions given to apps. In some instances, they even fail to see the impact such permissions have on their privacy. One such case is allowing apps to access our microphone thus essentially permitting them to listen to conversations, perhaps even when it has nothing to do with the app itself.

Microphone access can, fortunately, be disconnected in most devices. The procedure may differ, but in general, here’s how you can do that.

  • iPhone
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to Privacy then Microphone.
  3. Turn off access on apps that requested use of your microphone.

  • Android
  1. Go to the Apps & Notifications screen.
  2. Go to App Permissions.
  3. Turn off microphone access for apps you don’t want to record.

 

Are there Hidden Microphones Always Listening to You?

Hidden Microphones are frankly quite disturbing because they are a blatant invasion of our privacy. What makes it worse is it could be disguised as just about anything – pens, flash drives, clocks, and more.

Here’s what you can do to find those pesky hidden microphones or listening devices.

  • Physically check in every nook and cranny. Check for unusual decor or tech devices.
  • Turn off the lights to check for blinking lights, most listening devices have them.
  • Try making a call. Most spy microphones emit a sound that interferes with calls, it could be unusual buzzing or clicking noises.

 

Can Smart Doorbells be Used to See and Listen to Everything?

Stopping listening you by Smart Doorbell

Yes, there are smart doorbells that are supposed to protect our homes from robbers, unwanted visitors, and the like. But can you trust these smart doorbells? The downside is, the very same device that’s supposed to keep us safe might be hacked, giving the hackers eyes and ears into our homes.

Here are some precautionary measures to take to prevent such from happening.

  1. Use a strong password to help keep your account more impenetrable.
  2. Keep your device up-to-date. If you can afford it, avail of security upgrades available.
  3. Put a limit on people who can access your device and account.
Pat Stanley

Pat Stanley

Cell phone spy software enthusiast and researcher. With over 8 years in the business I can offer the most comprehensive analysis and recommendations for virtually any program on the market. Learn more about Pat Stanley.