How Smart Speakers Are Exposing Cheaters!

Did you know your home’s smart speaker can land you a divorce? And quickly.

The nation’s top security consultants, including myself, agree that smart devices now contain enough of your personal information to know if you’re participating in a secret relationship.

Americans are becoming more concerned with the lack of privacy associated with “smart” devices (i.e. speakers, bulbs, locks, TVs…etc.). Data advisers employed by the U.S. government have recently warned that certain data (such as taped conversations, location data…etc.) could be used against owners by uncovering unfaithful behavior.

The popular “Amazon Echo”, “Apple HomePod” and “Google Home” speakers can all pick up steamy dirty-talk among the culprits of an affair. Also, they can show when lovers commingle in the same bedroom via features such as “Alexa Guard.”

Duke Professor Dr. Machanavajjhala was recently interviewed clarifying that “Smart meters can tell you whether an individual is at home and what appliances are used. Smart light bulbs and Wi-Fi access points can reveal occupancy. Social relationships between building occupants can be inferred by analyzing sensor logs. Smart TVs and voice assistants can pick up living room chatter, some of which may be shared with third parties.”

Smart speaker adoption is beginning to become a global norm just like smart phones – making home assistants a hot industry for the biggest companies like Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook who all produce their own versions.

But despite these devices selling rapidly, the mass public is not clear on what tech companies do with the data they collect. Companies trying to creep their way into your data is nothing new; recorded chats and locations will inevitably be used for research, stored in the cloud and used to help sell to you.

Dr. Machanavajjhala was open in admitting that he does not own a smart speaker because he is scared of them. He strongly feels speakers are a threat to his privacy.  “I am waiting for privacy protections to come in. We need to know what is being collected about us, whether or not we have anything to hide,” he said.

According to, when they asked the major companies about losing privacy with recorded conversations, Amazon was the only company who replied stating, “At Amazon customer trust is of the utmost importance, and we take privacy seriously. By default, Echo devices are designed to only capture audio after it detects the wake word. Only after the wake word is detected does audio get streamed to the cloud, and the stream closes immediately after Alexa processes a customer request. No audio is stored or saved on the device. Customers can also review and delete voice recordings in the Alexa App or by visiting” Google, Facebook and Apple did not comment.

One of the largest mysteries still today is who are they sharing our data with once it’s in the cloud? Dr. Machanavajjhala added, “Smart devices move data to the cloud so they can be analyzed using sophisticated algorithms. Once data is on the cloud, users lose control over it. There is little transparency about who it is shared with.

One thing is for sure, you must stay up to date and informed because these companies are not slowing down.

The Alexa service is always getting smarter, whether you’re using the Echo you bought three years ago or an Echo Show you buy tomorrow. We have thousands of engineers and scientists inventing on behalf of customers, and today we’re excited to introduce even more features…” – Tom Taylor, Senior Vice President, Amazon Alexa.

There will continue to be issues that we will face as a society when it comes to smart devices. For example, Amazon Echo had problems over holidays due to users accidentally logging into the smart phones of the individuals who gave the speakers as gifts. For the past 30 years, I have been warning that in the hands of the bad guy, your information can be used to steal money from your bank account or unlock smart locks to enter your home.

To learn more, please visit my education page complete with both paid and free content designed to help you stay safe.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Cheating and Bullying: It’s a Bigger Problem than You Think!

The whole purpose of your “youth” is to grow and learn. It’s time to take in lots of information, so ultimately they can evolve, accomplish, and get ahead. However the pressure to grow and climb the ladder of life often leads to unwanted behaviors and actions that lead to significant negative consequences. And with everyone being online these days, it only adds to these consequences.

Technology has really added fuel to the fire for two well-known tween-teenage activities: bullying and cheating. Bullying has moved from the playground to online and cheating has a whole new realm beyond writing information on your hand or arm.

According to McAfee’s 2013 Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids study, children are witnessing bullying online in great numbers and parents are not fully aware of the issues. Additionally, children are continuing to find ways to use technology to cheat, while only half of the parents of cheating kids believed they had done so.


Social media isn’t all fun and games – 89% of all youth (ages 10-23) surveyed say they witnessed mean behavior on Facebook and 40% on Twitter.

Kids don’t outgrow bullying – 17% of children ages 10-12 say they have witnessed mean behavior directed at a classmate or friend online, but that number jumps to 34% for young adults ages 18-23.

Parents don’t know the full extent of the problem – Only 9% of parents believe their child or children have witnessed cruel behavior online; even worse, only 6% think that their son or daughter has been a target of this cyber bullying, when in reality 13% of youth report they have been targeted online.

Peer pressure spreads to the Internet – 4% of youth said they’ve been pressured into bullying someone online.


It’s a bigger problem than you think – More than half of all 13-23 year olds surveyed admitted to looking up the answer to a test or assignment online; only 17% of parents believe their child has done so.

Smartphones are making us dumber – While only 10% of 10-12 year olds said they had cheated on at test using a cell phone, this percentage doubles when looking at 18-23 demographic.

The Internet is teaching kids things you don’t want them to know – Only 2% of parents believe their child has ever cheated on a test using a technique they found online when in reality more than 1 in every 10 youth surveyed admitted to doing so.

Growing up is hard to do – More than a quarter of young adults ages 18-23 cheated with help from technology as opposed to 14% of 10-12 year olds.

So what do we as parents do to help change this negative behaviors? We must stay in-the-know. Since your kids have grown up in an online world, they may be more online savvy than you, but you can’t give up. You must challenge yourselves to become familiar with the complexities of the teen online universe and stay educated on the various devices your teens are using to go online.

Make sure you talk to your kids about Internet safety and what is and is not appropriate behavior online.

Establish clear guidelines that you all agree on including time spent online, and what type of content is ok post online.

Teach your kids to recognize cyberbullying and encourage them to talk to you about it.

Learn what your kids are doing with their mobile devices while they are in and out of school. It may surprise you to know how much time they are spending on them.

Consider using tools to help keep your kids safe online and support family Internet rules. Parental control software such as McAfee Safe Eyes lets you protect your kids from inappropriate sites and stay informed about their online activities.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  (Disclosures)