There are many more virtual assistants that we are incorporating into our homes for the comfort they provide us, and for the tools they offer us. In a single device, we can access music, the weather forecast, our agenda, and current news, among others. Many of them are incorporated into our phones, as is the case with Siri or other external systems such as Google Home. We can find virtual assistants like Siri, from Apple; Cortana, from Microsoft; Alexa, from Amazon.
These systems work through voice recognition, and through the orders that we transmit to them, they can have access to information as private as our contact list, and even, since they can even access the lighting system of our home, control the food that we have in the refrigerator or know what we are going to need soon.
There is no doubt that as time goes by, these devices will improve until they become an assistant/secretary that will facilitate our work in our own offices. At present, the use that is being given to them is fundamentally located within the home itself. Becoming in the not too distant future an indispensable tool for our jobs.
How Can Virtual Assistants Help Us?
The goal of these assistants is to make our lives easier. They can turn on an appliance for us, acting as an alarm clock by making us the shopping list. These devices send the information to the different associated companies so that they can then send us commercial communications about our tastes and needs. That is, they develop very accurate Direct Marketing campaigns thanks to the personal information that we provide them almost without realizing it.
We will see that it complies with the provisions of the RGPD because the purpose of the treatment of those personal data will be correct, and the interested party will provide the data that is registered, that is, the users when we make the corresponding configuration.
Do we Know if Our Personal Data is Secure in this Type of Apparatus?
This is a question we must ask us why our privacy really the control can. Before a hack could access the personal information, we have registered on any device that is connected to the same network you have connected to this virtual assistant.
A few months ago, a data protection conference by an expert in Cybersecurity, and among the experiences that he told in his presentation. And, he alluded to an attack that a company suffered on its computer equipment. All computers were hacked. And after an exhaustive analysis, they discovered that access to the computers had occurred through a smart coffee maker.
This does not indicate that these devices do not have the corresponding security. Since they only transfer information to the company’s servers, which are responsible for processing the data. And, therefore, for complying with the security measures regarding the protection of data. Now, it is essential that we also apply some security measures to prevent this access. Being aware that security and privacy are not only a matter for companies.
As natural persons, we are also exposed to suffering an attack, since, in our day to day, we use different devices and means that constantly store our personal data. This is an escape route if we do not apply security measures to our own privacy.
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Can we have any Security Gap with these Virtual Assistants that affects our Privacy?
In the previous paragraph, an allusion has been made to the cyber attack that a company suffered through a coffee machine. It seems that cyberattacks are always going to affect companies. Still, we can find other situations that affect us personally, such as recording a private conversation in our own home.
Since, as we indicated at the beginning, these virtual assistants work through the recognition of our voice. And, for convenience, we usually have them always active, so that as they are designed to detect and respond to order through our voice. They can also record a private conversation at a certain time.
This could be classified as an accident, but this situation can be aggravated when the manufacturers of these virtual assistants do make a record of all the data that the user enters, and can even share them.
Cybercriminals are on the Prowl, Protect Yourself
On the other hand, cyber-criminals can access this information and use it for different purposes. Having access to absolute control over all the devices linked to the virtual assistant. And also, being able to control from a mobile phone, an iPad, a Tablet, a computer even to access the cloud where we have all personal information registered, including bank details, health details, etc.
We don’t need to be a company to suffer this cyberattack; moreover, cyber-criminals, on many occasions, access large companies or public services through individuals whose access is easier. We can suffer this security breach through a virtual assistant. And, if we do not have the corresponding security measures in place, and we do not act correctly.
How Can we Protect Ourselves from these Cyberattacks?
This article intends not to attack these systems or to encourage readers not to use them as a security measure. Technology is advancing rapidly, and in recent years digitization has been installed in our companies and in our private homes. We ourselves have opened a window where we are giving visibility to our personal information. Not only through these virtual assistants but also through social networks, files that we store on servers, etc. This is what cyber-criminals are taking advantage of, and all we have to do is take the appropriate security measures.
Keys to Using Virtual Assistants Safely
- Wifi network: we must try to have a password that is difficult to find out; for example, I Like Muffins for Breakfast at 8 (AMMGLMPDal8). It is an easy password to remember, but difficult to figure out. It is a phrase that contains letters and numbers and a word that only I know.
- Name of the virtual assistant: we can change the assistant’s name that comes by default. And thus it will be more challenging to locate it.
- Name of the linked elements: when we install an assistant, we usually link other elements to it. And one way to prevent access to these is by changing their name at the same time.
- Install a firewall: it is an important security measure with which we will only allow access to authorized virtual assistants.
- Check the devices connected to the network: we must regularly check all the devices that we have connected to our network. And we must eliminate those that we do not use.
Not only do we have to fear cyber-criminals. But we also have to know to which company we are transferring our personal data. For what purpose, and if they are going to be transferred to third parties internationally. In other words, the companies that are responsible for these devices also have to comply with data protection. Since they will be stored on their own servers.
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