Amazon’s Invasion of Your Home Internet—What Could Go Wrong?
by Jim Lundy
Amazon Sidewalk is coming this month to your Echo and Ring devices and it’s an automatic invasion of your home internet that you need to be aware of. To get to the bottom line right away, we recommend opting out of the Sidewalk service initially until it’s proven that it is secure.
What Is Amazon Sidewalk?
Amazon Sidewalk is an initiative that was announced in September 2019 that allows Amazon to borrow part of your network connection to allow it to build a larger mesh network to keep devices operating (when there are outages) and to allow sharing of information that Amazon deems appropriate.
The idea behind Sidewalk is to keep devices operational even if the network goes down. However, as most of us know in our home neighborhoods, there’s often only one service provider—and when it goes down, everyone is down.
When Does Amazon Sidewalk Go Live?
Amazon Sidewalk actually goes into production on June 8th. It includes a new, unproven Wi-Fi protocol that many view as a risk. The other issue that Amazon has failed to disclose is the question of what level of testing has been done on the protocol and on the Sidewalk mesh network in general.
Security Issues You Don’t Need Right Now
While Amazon Sidewalk may be a good idea for some users, it is a bad idea for many others. Security and the risk of being hacked through Amazon Sidewalk should give users second thoughts. The concern that tracking devices could be used to stalk you is only one of these issues with Amazon Sidewalk.
Enterprises need to be keenly aware of this new initiative pursued by Amazon and take steps to protect their knowledge workers relative to Amazon Sidewalk. Sidewalk has the potential to be a security gateway into the corporate network via phones and computers that are operating on the users’ home networks.
The Privacy Issues of Devices in Our Homes—Don’t Be Evil
These issues with privacy have now become security issues. But the privacy issues have never really been solved either. Amazon Echo devices listen to you to plan advertisements, as do Google Nest devices.
While we’re mainly discussing Amazon Sidewalk in this blog, we need to also call out Google, which is selling Nest Wi-Fi devices that have listening microphones on their Wi-Fi routers. We do note that for Google Nest devices it is possible to turn off the microphone via a setting in the app. However, most users do not know this. Facebook can’t be left out either—like Nest, Facebook Portal listens to you to inform ad strategy.
Amazon’s new initiative represents an invasion of privacy and a security risk. Consumers and enterprises should be wary of data sharing projects like Sidewalk, and understand that now is not the time to compromise security and privacy.