Is your house spying on you?

71-Smart homes

Smart homes are becoming common in India, thanks to the increasing popularity of Amazon Echo and Google Home devices and the availability of appliances that are compatible with them—surveillance cameras, light bulbs, televisions, smart speakers, and even refrigerators and door locks. They, for sure, make life easy. But giving eyes and ears to your house also means that you are allowing it to watch and hear you. That means anyone who has access to these devices (technically only you have, but often that is not the case) can watch and hear you. You can be in control by tweaking a few configurations to balance device performance with privacy.

Echo and Home devices

They are the brains of most smart homes in India, and they are always listening. You can manage how Amazon uses your data by opening “Settings” in the Alexa app and heading for “Alexa Privacy” and toggling the “help improve Amazon services” option off along with the “use messages to improve transcriptions”. Google Assistant users can go to “Settings” on the Home app, then “More Settings” and then “Your Data” to stop collection of voice recordings.


Most surveillance cameras these days are connected to and accessible from the internet. Here you are left without many options other than trusting the manufacturers' claims that the camera is safe. Make sure that you regularly update the firmware to prevent hacking, and you can manually shut them down when you need privacy.

Smart bulbs

They are probably the most widely used smart devices. Some researchers recently proved that many popular brands are vulnerable to hacking, leaving home computer networks at risk. It is essential that you keep them protected. Buy only good brands, and keep the firmware up to date.