Your smartphone is probably always listening to you. It has to be like this for voice recognition assistants like Siri, Bixby or Alexa to work. But is your device listening to your conversations and using them to target you with personalized ads?
While there is no definitive proof that this is happening, some experts suggest that some apps may be able to access your device’s microphone and record snippets of your conversations without your consent. This is the concern Mark has and why he wrote to us asking:
“2 days ago I was talking about an underwater camera, later that day my family member received an invoice on PayPal for an underwater camera. I had my cell phone with me during the original discussion. Are hackers or AI listening to my conversations? Also? How would they know with this information how to bill a family member?” — Brand
Well, Mark, audio surveillance is very real and can be used for targeted ads. This could be a serious violation of your privacy and security, and you may want to take some steps to avoid it. Here’s what you can do to make sure no one is listening to your conversations.
1) Turn off your voice recognition assistant
Voice recognition assistants like Siri, Bixby, and Alexa constantly listen for trigger phrases in case you need them. When it comes to Siri, for example, Apple says it runs a speech recognizer at all times. Once your iPhone hears “hey Siri,” it springs into action.
But if you’re not comfortable with your smartphone listening to you, turning off your voice recognition assistant requires just a few steps:
How to turn off Siri
- Gonna Settings
- Click ‘Siri and search’
- Disable the following options: Listen to “Siri” either “Hello Siri,” Press the side button for Siriand Allow Siri when locked
How to turn off Google Assistant
- Gonna Settings
- Select Google
- Click Accounting Services
- Click Search, Assistant and Voice
- Select Voice
- Select voice match
- To turn off “Hello Google”
2) Turn off your microphone
Voice recognition assistants aren’t the only apps that could be listening. If you’ve given a certain app your microphone privileges, it could also be listening. Disabling your voice recognition assistant will not disable other apps that use your microphone. Here’s how to turn off your microphone:
How to stop your iOS device from listening to you
- Click Settings
- Scroll down to any application (Facebook, Snapchat, etc.) and click on it.
- Fold off microphone option
How to stop your Android device from listening to you
Settings may vary depending on the manufacturer of your Android phone
- Gonna Settings
- Click Applications
- Scroll down to any application (Facebook, Snapchat, etc.)
- Click Permissions
- Click Microphone
- Click the circle next to Do not allow
3) Get good antivirus software
One of the ways you can protect yourself from this potential threat is by using reliable antivirus software on your device. Antivirus software can scan your device for malicious apps that may be accessing your microphone or other sensitive data and block them from doing so. Having antivirus software on your devices will also ensure that you cannot click on potential malicious links that could install malware on your devices, allowing hackers to access your personal information.
Additionally, antivirus software can alert you to any suspicious activity on your device and help you remove unwanted or harmful apps. By using antivirus software, you can ensure that your device does not listen to your conversations by hackers and that your personal information is not used to generate targeted advertisements that could actually be identity fraud Attempts. Find my review of The Best Antivirus Protection here.
4) Use a VPN
TO VPN or virtual private network, is a service that creates a secure, encrypted connection between your device and a server on the Internet. By using a VPN, you can hide your IP address and location from the websites and apps you use, and prevent them from tracking your online activity or personal information, thereby reducing the chances of receiving targeted ads based on the fact that you there is none there. There is no direct link between your device and the website or application you access. Check out my expert review of the best VPNs for private web browsing on your Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices..
Kurt’s Key Takeaways
While hackers have the ability to listen to your conversations, there is no evidence of this happening on a large scale. However, staying safe online is all about mitigating risk. Still, you should be proactive about your Internet security, even if an attack or hack has not yet occurred.
Do you have the microphone on your devices turned off? Do you use other ways to protect yourself from hackers trying to listen to your conversations? Let us know by writing to us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.
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