Google Home is a smart device that lets users play music, receive news and weather updates as well as control other smart devices using voice commands. While Google takes security seriously, it’s still important to safeguard your Home device against potential privacy breaches and threats.

Use these tips to help protect your privacy while using the Google Home:

Google Home and protecting your privacy

Google Home is equipped with advanced technology to prevent data breaches, but there are still risks when using any internet connected (IoT) device. Here are some protective steps to make your device more secure:

  • Review and delete voice recordings

    Google Home stores your search and activity history to make your experience with them more relevant, smarter and faster. This is a benefit to users, but if you have concerns about privacy or security breaches, you can review and delete these recordings from the My Activity page.

  • Change settings to automatically manage data stored by Google

    You may not want to share things like your location or banking information with Google. Your Home device lets you change your settings to manage what data Google links with your account. Restricting what you share with your Home saves time, and you won’t need to worry about deleting history.

  • Mute the Google Home microphone

    When not in use, mute the Home’s microphone using the touch panel on top of the device. All recording capabilities stop until reactivated.

  • Disable personal results

    Google Home will read out personal information such as shopping lists or your daily schedule. To disable this feature, tap the “Device” icon in your Google Home menu, tap “Settings,” and then “More.” Scroll down to “personal results” and turn it off.

  • Don’t link Google accounts with sensitive information to your Google Home

    Google accounts containing sensitive information like bank details or identity information shouldn’t be linked to your device. Although Google Home differentiates your voice from others’, you don’t want to leave things to chance.

  • Turn off your Google Home when you’re away

    Your Google Home doesn’t have a power button. To turn off your device, you must unplug it from its power source.

Google Home and cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a priority for the Google. If there is a security breach with your Google Home, it locks down your device. In addition, you can follow these simple cybersecurity measures to help ensure your Google Home isn’t tampered with in the first place:

  • Turn off internet connection to your Google Home when not in use.

    Disabling the internet connection to your Home reduces the chance your device will be spotted by IoT search engines like Shodan, ZoomEye, Censys and others. For example, a hacker could use Shodan to find unsecured IoT devices.

  • Only use a secured internet connection.

    Cyber attacks targeting IoT devices usually happen over unsecured connections. Public WiFi and unencrypted internet connections qualify as unsecured connections, so avoid these when using your Google Home. In addition, a good virtual private network (VPN) service will help ensure your connection is secure.

  • Use strong passwords for your WiFi connection.

    Be sure to change default passwords on your home internet connections and other internet connections you use. A strong password helps reduce the chance of your device being hacked.

Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Differences in privacy and security

Google Home measures up well in protecting users’ privacy and security. Here’s how it compares to its biggest competitor the Amazon Echo.

  1. Google Home recognizes users’ voices. This feature can help protect your privacy by preventing unauthorized access to your device. The Echo is still in the process of developing its voice recognition capability.
  2. Google Home allows up to six users per device. This means each user gets personalized responses rather than sharing access. Google Home uses its voice recognition to differentiate between users.

  3. Google Home automatically updates as long as there’s WiFi connection. Keeping your device updated is an important measure and fighting off new cybersecurity threats, so the Google Home’s automatic updates should alleviate some of these security concerns. If you want to check your version of the Home, follow these steps: 1) Open your app; 2) Tap on “Devices” and find the device card; 3) Tap the device card menu in the top-right corner and choose “Settings.”At the bottom, you’ll find the Google Home version.
  4. As of July 2017, Amazon Echo worked with more smart home accessories than the Home. This is expected given that Google Home launched in 2016, two years after the Amazon Echo. However, the Home is catching up. Apart from its superior voice recognition technology, Google Home’s cryptographic signature is a privacy and security improvement that keeps you safe when connecting it with other smart devices.
  5. Amazon Echo lets you change your wake words, but Google Home doesn’t give you control over your wake words. This privacy feature is not necessary for the Home since it has voice recognition capability instead.

Wrap up: Google Home and your security

Google takes your privacy and security seriously, but that’s not enough reason to leave things to chance. Use the privacy tips above to improve your Google Home’s security and reduce the possibility of a data breach.

Feature image//Creative Commons by ndb_photos, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0//