Skip to main content

Protect your personal data: how to secure an Alexa device

Smartphones, smart displays, video doorbells, robot vacuums -- the list of devices that sync with Amazon Alexa is shocking. Hundreds, if not thousands, of gadgets are now compatible with Amazon's voice assistant, and there's a strong possibility it knows more about you than you suspect. That makes it crucial to secure your Alexa device, ensuring your personal data doesn't fall into the wrong hands or if you're concerned the device is listening to your conversations.




10 minutes

What You Need

Successful Alexa breaches aren't common, but that doesn’t mean you should get lazy with your digital footprint. From deleting voice recordings to turning off your camera and microphone, here are a few ways you can improve your Alexa security.

amazon echo dot 3rd gen deal best buy january 2023  2018 release on a table with lamp and book
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Delete your Alexa voice recordings every day

On the same day Amazon unveiled the Echo Show 5, it also announced a new privacy feature that allows customers to delete all of their recordings from their Alexa device for a specific day.

Step 1: If you simply say, “Alexa, delete what I said today,” your Alexa-enabled device will delete your daily voice recordings.

Step 2: Perform this action at night before you go to bed to keep your Alexa recordings cleared out.

Delete your Alexa voice recordings history

Even if you go through and delete your recordings each night, you may still have an archive of past recordings (prior to when you started deleting them daily).

Step 1: Go into the Alexa app and select Settings > Alexa Account > History.

Step 2: Go through and manually delete all of your past recordings.

amazon echo spot review bassvent
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Turn off your microphone and camera when you’re not using the device

Some users worry about a random creep hacking into their Echo and listening in on them, or even worse, they worry someone may be watching them through an Echo device that has a camera. You can minimize this risk by turning off your microphone if you don’t plan on using your Echo.

Step 1: Press the microphone on/off button located on top of the device, and Alexa will stop listening.

Step 2: Turn off the camera on all Alexa devices by either using your voice (say, “Alexa, turn camera off”), or you can go to Settings > Device Options and then turn off the Enable Camera option.

In newer Echo models with screens, like the Echo Show 5, Amazon went an extra step and included a physical camera shutter that you can put over the camera lens. This was done to help assuage fears that digital privacy methods could be overwritten — and also because more new Echo devices were designed for more private areas, like the bedroom.

amazon echo alexa device bundle deals  2nd generation with smart plug 02
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Be mindful of where you place your Alexa devices

Avoid placing your Echo near a window or in a location that's easily accessible from outside your home. In addition to reducing the risk of someone accessing your Echo from outside, this also reduces the risk of people outside of your home listening to your calls and other Alexa interactions.

best deals alexa google home amazon walmart echo 2nd gen
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Change your wake word

Change your wake word to a word you seldom (if ever) use in conversation. Also, make sure your wake word doesn't sound too similar to other words you frequently use in conversation. This way, if you have a friend named Alexis, Alexa doesn’t start recording your conversations when you say your friend's name.

Step 1: To change your wake word, you can simply say, “Alexa, change the wake word.”

Step 2: You can also open the Alexa app.

Step 3: Go to Devices > select your device > select Wake Word > select a new wake word from the list.

Step 4: Select OK.

1210113 autosave v1 amazon app smartphone shopping purchase program
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Use a strong Amazon password and two-factor authentication

Sometimes, people forget that their Alexa devices are secured and protected by their Amazon password. If someone has your Amazon password, they have access to your Alexa recordings, your smart devices like security systems and cameras, your daily routine, the ability to make purchases, and much more.

Digital Trends' own Trevor Mogg recently reported on a study by the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) that looked at public databases of breached accounts and found that 23.2 million accounts globally used the password “123456.”

If you're using a weak password, or if you're using the same password for multiple accounts, you may want to think about increasing your password security by updating and using different passwords.

belkin asus netgear wireless router deals best buy newegg work from home sale dual band wi fi 5 ac1750
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Increase your network security

A secure home network is key to securing your Alexa devices and smart-home devices as well. This means having a strong network password. You can read more about how to secure your Wi-Fi network here.

Step 1: Avoid using default passwords.

Step 2: Avoid giving your password to friends and neighbors (use a "guest" network instead).

Step 3: Use two-factor authentication when possible.

amazon slashes prices on security cameras and systems fathers day arlo pro 2 camera kit 3
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Manage smart-device connections

Alexa can connect to smart devices all over your house — in fact, she's one of the best voice assistants for giving commands to smart devices. But all that smart-home compatibility also comes with some security concerns. Alexa will receive data about your smart devices and how they are used throughout your home.

Fortunately, just like with Alexa voice commands, there is a way to delete this history of your smart-device connections.

Step 1: Log on to your Amazon account.

Step 2: Go to Manage Your Content and Devices.

Step 3: Select Manage Smart Home Devices History. Here you will see an option to delete your devices' history with just one button.

why i hate amazon prime day with a passion boxall mem 4
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Set up a pin for voice purchases

One concern a lot of people had with Alexa devices was that kids would accidentally purchase thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, and that we’d all go broke and have piles of Amazon boxes in our living rooms. While you must have voice purchases "enabled" and you must have a one-click payment method set up to make those voice purchases, it’s still a good idea to take extra precaution and add a purchase code. This requires the purchaser to say a four-digit confirmation code before making any voice purchase.

Step 1: Open the Alexa app.

Step 2: Go to Settings > Alexa Account > Voice Purchases.

Step 3: When you enable voice purchases, it will give you the option to set up your purchase code.

Read privacy policies and adjust your privacy settings

Amazon publishes info on its security practices, terms of use, and privacy policies. Review this information so you thoroughly understand Alexa privacy and security, and what type of concerns you should have.

Step 1: Open the Alexa app.

Step 2: Go to Settings > Alexa Account > Alexa Privacy.

Step 3: Adjust your privacy settings.

For instance, you can review your smart-alert history, manage which info is sent to Amazon about your smart-home devices, and manage your skills permissions (which is kind of like managing app permissions on your phone). Specific Alexa devices have additional privacy settings. For instance, the Echo Look lets you choose whether you want your photos to be submitted for style suggestions.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Manage third-party skills carefully

In terms of privacy, third-party Alexa skills are in a fascinating position. As you may already know, Amazon won't share any personally identifiable information for any skill without directly acquiring your permission first. On the other hand, many skills automatically require the transfer of some information. For example, if you start a quiz skill, Alexa will send your quiz answers to the skill without asking permission because that's what the skill is for.

You have to enable a skill for Alexa to share specific contact information, like your email.

Step 1: Open the Alexa app.

Step 2: Review your skills to secure and adjust your permission settings.

things amazon echo can do that google home cant alexa blueprints
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Don’t create and share skills that contain your personal information

Many Alexa users can build customized skills and then distribute and publish them using Alexa Blueprints. Although this can be a convenient feature to work with, these skills, like babysitting or even individual tests, can include sensitive data about you or another person.

If you want to develop a skill, we recommend outlining it first and thinking it all the way through to ensure that you won’t share too much of your private information. Evaluate the skill before you make it public and share it with people. Steer clear of comments in babysitter skills like, “Susie just turned 1 on May 5, so she’s not sleeping through the night yet,” and instead say, “The baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet.” In quizzes, avoid including questions like, “When is Aunt Jen’s birthday?” or “What is Uncle Bill’s middle name?” Try your best to keep all your questions and answers vague and general, so you don't spread or track other people's information.

Alexa Guard artistic rendering.

Alexa Guard is great, but it's not designed for your privacy

Amazon offers a useful feature known as Alexa Guard with some of its products. But instead of guarding your personal information, it's designed to guard your home. When select devices are set to "Away Mode," they'll send alerts to your smartphone if a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide alarm, or breaking glass is detected. That makes it great as a second layer of home security -- but don't be fooled into thinking it’s a digital security device. Be sure to read up on Alexa Guard before enabling the feature and understand the benefits and drawbacks of using such a system.

Editors' Recommendations

Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
The best smart light switch for Alexa, Google Home, and HomeKit
A person using a smart light switch.

They may not be as flashy as smart speakers or smart displays, but smart light switches bring just as much functionality to your home. These seemingly simple devices can be toggled on or off like a standard light switch, but they're often packed with other useful features -- such as support for voice assistants or the ability to customize their performance through a mobile app. That makes them incredibly useful and gives you plenty of ways to quickly manage lights throughout your smart home.

With so many smart light switches available in 2024, it can be challenging to figure out which ones are best for your needs. Some are budget-friendly but don’t offer premium features, while others are quite expensive yet allow for remarkable personalization. Whatever your needs, there's a smart light switch that'll work with your setup.

Read more
Roomba not connecting to Wi-Fi? Here’s how to fix it
iRobot Roomba i3 Plus cleaning a wooden floor.

Your treasured iRobot Roomba is likely one of the best purchases you've ever made. Between traditional vacuum jobs, it keeps your home neat and tidy by operating on a pre-determined schedule. The Roomba integrates with your Alexa ecosystem, sends you notifications, and can be controlled from the intuitive iRobot companion app. There's only one trouble...

Read more
The most common Google Nest Mini problems and how to fix them
A coral Google Nest Mini mounted on a brick wall.

The Google Nest Mini (2nd Gen) is one of the best smart speakers of 2024. Despite its low price, the Nest Mini gives you full access to Google Assistant, provides surprisingly great audio for a device its size, and is compact enough to fit nearly anywhere in your home. Whether you want to listen to music, dish out commands to other smart devices, or check the news, the Nest Mini can do it all.

However, the Nest Mini isn't without its faults. Setting up and using the smart speaker is typically a straightforward, hassle-free experience. But like all electronics, some owners have noticed strange issues when performing simple tasks — such as connectivity problems or an unresponsive unit.

Read more