Symantec warning about home assistants: They are easily hacked - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Symantec warning about home assistants: They are easily hacked

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Millions of Americans own devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, but a new report shows the frightening ways hackers could use those devices against you.

Digital security firm Symantec warns those very popular, voice-activated assistants can be easily hacked by everyone from pranksters to thieves. 20 million homes already have these devices, with Amazon's Echo the clear favorite.

Symantec's researchers say the problems begin with the default settings. One of those Echo settings allows for voice-purchasing.

Unless you set a PIN number or disable that feature, you - or your kids - could inadvertently order something from Amazon.

The risks get worse. Those devices are always listening, waiting to hear the "wake up command." Symantec says accidental triggering is common, with devices regularly waking to conversations, the TV and music.

Once the devices wake, they're recording, and those recordings are stored in servers. Symantec says those same features make it possible for a hacker to potentially get into your device and use it to eavesdrop on you.

Symantec also warns against using your device to turn on lights, set the thermostat, or open door locks. Not only could a prankster mess with your appliances, a burglar could shout "Turn off the alarm and unlock the door" - and it might work.

Symantec also says you should not store passwords, credit card data or other sensitive information in those devices.

While these devices are fun to use, they're yet another way for hackers to reach you, so be careful which features you enable.

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