Your Google Home Device

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have a personal assistant? Well, now you can have one in your very own home.  Google’s smart speakers and applications – Google Home, Google Home Max, Google Home Mini, and Google Assistant – provide an array of services and information to practically any task or question.  Though Google is trying to simplify our hectic lives, these devices are collecting and storing personal data that could leave users vulnerable to hackers. Unfortunately, as the proliferation of smart technologies continues, so do exploits to violate your privacy.

Smart technologies are gaining in popularity.  Just as most people are unfamiliar with devices like Google Assistant, most are also unaware of cybersecurity and privacy threats.  Just as there are hacks that benefit you by gaining new access to a service, there are others that allow unauthorized people to gain access to your system.  

All Cyber Eggs in One Basket

To set up your Google smart device, first you must start with linking your Google account by using your Google credentials to sign up and log in. As your Google Assistant comes to life, it now has access to a large portion of your personal information from your online account.  This is not all bad. It is probably preferable that just Google is seeing your information as opposed to having it dispersed among several third-party vendors. However, this kind of access by Google presents the same data leak vulnerabilities as with any vendor. If some sly hacker was to access this one account, they would be granted access to all your information – emails, appointments, payment history etc.  As our parents have always warned us, putting all our eggs into one basket can result in serious damage.  Google potentially provides hackers the path of least resistance and a highway to even greater hacks.

Don’t make it easy for hackers.  Delete old recordings. Don’t save them for the memories, don’t save them for convenience – just delete them. If a hacker were to gain access to your account, banking, health, and commute information can lead them to a profile of you that can be further exploited.  

Google Device’s Biggest Concern

Experts say that Google Home as a product doesn’t have too many security vulnerabilities. However, they worry when it comes to the number of home-gadgets and accounts that are paired with the device.  In addition, having multiple Google smart devices in your home can also work against you. The multiple access points give hackers several doors or threat vectors to access your data.

All the data stored in Google Home is encrypted and the transfer of data to Google is fairly safe.   The concern among cyber experts stems from the potential of Google data centers being hacked and nefarious agents winning the golden ticket to access all your personal information.  Since Google Home customers are encouraged to link their accounts to a variety of services, the proliferation of personal data leads to greater damage. The consequences of an identity being cloned many times, for instance, can ruin lives.

Experts discourage users from linking bank accounts, credit card payments, and any other transactions to the Google treasure trove.  This is the guidance provided to avoid a potentially detrimental situation. Another point of security direction is to create a new Gmail account specifically for Google smart devices.  This way, a user is one step ahead of the would-be hacker. This one proactive action will reduce the risks of losing sensitive information.

Pro-Tips for All

You don’t have to be a cybersecurity genius to effectively protect your Google smart devices. Just as you don’t have to be a hacking genius to exploit it.  Practicing basic cybersecurity hygiene is the first step in shifting your risk profile. Some of the best next steps to continuing your secure cyber life include changing your account passwords frequently.  In fact, you might benefit from using passphrases. And, in case you are like many other homeowners, secure your wireless router. If you have an unsecured Wi-Fi system, your neighbors might be collecting as much data as Google this very moment.  

The fact users are unaware of what is digitally going on around them benefits Google.  The great services also benefit the user; so, there is probably a favorable cost-benefit equation.  However, the less you know makes it easier for Google as less people challenge the growth of the smart home technology.  Just be aware, soon Google or Amazon (Alexa) will be listening in every household and your verbal slip may one day lead to your fall from societal graces.  What happens in your home may no longer be private.

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