• Amazon is turning Echo and Ring into transmitters on June 8

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    PUBLIC DEFENDER By Brian Livingston You may not have been expecting this, but those nice little Echo speakers you bought to play music — as well as yo
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    • #2366681

      I’m not sure what to think about allowing Amazon to “borrow” my bandwidth to support their “Sidewalk” internet of things. Sounds like a hacker’s dream!

      No Amazon branded devices in my home yet. And based on this news, it will probably stay that way, at least for a while longer! 🙂

      Windows 10 Pro 22H2

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    • #2366716

      Comcast/Xfinity already by default “borrows” some of your WiFi bandwidth to support “public” WiFi Hotspots.

      Now Amazon by default is joining your devices to a mesh network of other people’s devices, some of which have been demonstrated to be vulnerable to malware infiltration and takeover of control by unknown third parties. This while also “borrowing” a bit of your bandwidth. IotT devices from who knows which third parties, most of which have horrible security if any, will also be joined to this mesh network.

      Neither Amazon nor Comcast has any firewall between their “public” networks and your Home Network. And in the case of the Comcast/Xfinity supplied Gateways, you don’t have a robust firewall option inside their supplied modems. You can’t set up a Guest Network on a Comcast/Xfinity Gateway. Supply your own equipment and you instantly lose many Xfinity “features”.

      Comcast is known to spy on users’ activities while connected to its network. Amazon also collects snippets of data and even longer recordings through their Alexa network. Now all of this is going to be connected to other people’s networks and devices.

      Cell phone carriers and Google (probably also Apple) track phones even when they are not “on”. Data is collected which is uploaded as soon as the phones connect to any Internet connection. Hundreds of megabytes upload silently in the background, and neither Google nor Comcast will disclose exactly what data they collect or retain. Now Amazon will enter into the same game.

      Seriously, what can possibly go wrong??

      I like Brian’s suggestion about places like The Alzheimer’s Store as alternatives for tracking and finding people who need monitoring services.

      Apple has its own ways to find things and keep track of family and friends through their Apps. But again, we have to trust Apple not to snoop on us or sell the collected data. At least Apple does not have a proven track record (that I am aware of) of deliberately leaking user data. Then again, “unintentional” leaks have occurred from iCloud.

      Whom do you trust?

      -- rc primak

      • #2366771

        FYI Charter Cable Communications (Spectrum/Time Warner Cable) does the same thing as Comcast regarding Wi-Fi Hostspots and bandwidth.


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      • #2367042

        Not if one had one of those older Comcast Ethernet only  Internet Modems and that’s what I had until the Building announced free WiFi for the residents and I returned all that back to Comcast. But really I’ll not wanting or missing the 14+ dollar internet modem rental that started out around 5 dollars and grew from there. But that and the other fees from Comcast are in the past now so no worries there with that.

        As far as Smart Thermostats I have to fight to remain warm in the summer months thanks to the Verdant Thermostat in my room and that WiFi nonsense that’s never really off when I turn it off or just ignores my 76 Degree F selection and instead opts for the building master control setting of 72 degrees that’s too cold for me and a system that sometimes cools a but too far and turns on the heater in mid summer or heats too far and turns on the AC mid winter.

        Some built-in intelligence there for a system that should be programmed to just stay off in the winter if it heats the room too high as the natural heat to cold equilibrium will remove that excess heat in the winter an no need to turn on and waste power mid winter cooling and the same for the summer if the room’s been cooled too far, instead of that systems current behavior AC on in the middle of winter and it below freezing outside or heat in the summer even if it’s 90F+ outside!

        And as I type this I have the Thermostat off but have to convince the master control system that I’m actually in the room buy turning in my char and vigorously waving at the thermostat’s sensor to get that automated system to realize than I’m sill in the room and want that AC off. And this cat and mouse game can sometimes last over an Hour+ and that AC coming on and my waving and it goes off again(2 Times already as I wrote this paragraph) so annoying is that nonsense there!



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    • #2366720

      Seriously, what can possibly go wrong??

      That’s a very loaded question!!!

      I’m not sure Amazon have really thought this through, or if they have, and still don’t care about security, then that is scary!

      Windows 10 Pro 22H2

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    • #2366735

      Sort of like the text of the Sidewalk Service description, The Alzheimer’s Store GPS insole sounds good on paper. Real life – that is a whole different story. The weak link for the GPS insole is the need to recharge them 2-3 times a week. That may be possible if you provide in home care for that person, as the onus is on you to keep up with the recharging regimen. Otherwise, forget it. Even if the wireless charging worked via a flat plate device with the outline of shoes painted on it, sadly, that person would not remember to place their shoes on the charging plate. And, the service level in assisted living facilities would also not be up to the task.

      Me? I am a Luddite when it comes to connected devices controlled by invisible EULAs. Of course, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been unsuccessfully fighting for Internet civil liberties since 1990, too. Maybe, I am just too impatient.

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    • #2366741

      Here is a hack for the Amazon Fire Stick TV remote, to remove the microphone so that Alexa cannot record anything.

      Buh-bye! 🙂



      Windows 10 Pro 22H2

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    • #2366761

      Then again, “unintentional” leaks have occurred from iCloud.

      Never happened. Reference please ?

    • #2366871

      Call me old-fashioned.

      There are no IoT appliances or devices in my home.  I’m perfectly fine with opening the refrigerator door to see what should be put on the next shopping list (written on paper with a pen).

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    • #2366941

      I have exactly one Amazon device, a basic 7 inch Paper-White Kindle.  As far as I know it has no microphone, though I understand it has some low-level cellular data capability.  Do I need to take a hammer to it?

    • #2367921

      Ghacks : If you don’t want Amazon devices to share your bandwidth with your neighbors, you need to opt-out!

      ..Another key element of Amazon Sidewalk is that it creates a network for roaming devices, e.g. devices similar to Apple AirTags, that Amazon could utilize to provide the functionality.

      Amazon explains:

      Amazon Sidewalk uses Bluetooth, the 900 MHz spectrum and other frequencies to extend coverage and provide these benefits.

      Each device, called Sidewalk Bridge by Amazon, shares up to 80kbps with the Sidewalk server when the feature is active. Amazon notes that the total monthly bandwidth is capped to 500 Megabytes for an account…

      The company published a privacy and security whitepaper that explains in detail how the system works and which privacy and security protections Amazon implemented…

      Amazon explains on this page how Sidewalk can be turned off:

      Open the Alexa application.
      Select More > Settings.
      Select Account Settings.
      Select Amazon Sidewalk.
      Select Off to turn off Amazon Sidewalk for the account…

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