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KVIA: Intelligent home devices becoming a trend but are you losing privacy?

Story published by KVIA -ABC 7 News

Written by KVIA Reporter, Jerry Najera

Jan 3rd, 2017

http://www.kvia.com/news/el-paso/intelligent-home-devices-becoming-a-trend-but-are-you-losing-privacy/246800164

 

Pictured Above: Western Tech Information Systems and Security (ISS) Director, Ken Pivarnick

 

With the holidays behind us, a lot of people are playing with their newest tech gadgets.

A new trend in the market: intelligent personal assistants for the home. The home devices can provide unlimited information but can they also be collecting information about you.

Personal assistant devices like Google Home and the Amazon Alexa are the next hottest gadget everyone wants.

The devices can tell you what the weather is going to be like, play whatever music you want to hear and even help you plan your day but using the device can have its drawbacks.

"People want it but they have to understand that putting a device like that in their home, they are allowing it to monitor them," said Ken Pivarnick, Information Systems and Security program director for Western Tech College.

Pivarnick tells ABC-7 the devices are tracking you.

"The Alexa device is monitoring your purchasing and surfing habits. What you search for and what you want to buy because then it tailors its advertising," Pivarnick said.

Computers and phones do that every day but the difference with the personal assistant devices is that they are tied to accounts.

"With these types of devices, they're tied to specific accounts. Amazon is tied to Alexa, the new Google Home device is tied to Google accounts," Pivarnick said.

And there's something else.

"Yes it records audio," Pivarnick told ABC-7.

The devices are listening but don't begin to record unless you say Alexa or OK Google.

According to Wired.com, the devices store snippets of recorded requests on a database and the companies say they are only storing the data to make your personal assistant smarter.

"For the casual consumer out there, if you're going to use a device download and install some kind of protection," Pivarnick said.

Pivarnick recommends using security software that you can buy not whatever you can get for free and use complex passwords for accounts.

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