Cyber security tip #1: Know who is listening

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all around you1. The world we live in is filled with this amazing technology: Smart homes use AI products like Google Home and Amazon Echo. Smartphones use AI products like Siri. And, chatbots (computer programs designed to simulate conversation with human users) use AI products such as Facebook Messenger, Slackbots and Google Allo. These products can be convenient and helpful in our everyday lives.

What’s the risk? The more questions you ask the AI, the more data that is collected. The more personal information available, the more a malicious hacker can exploit, which includes being able to assume your identity. Additionally, some AI devices are always active. This means your smart devices are hearing more than just the questions directed toward them. Anything you say is heard and added to the data collected. 

Before you verify your address on a telephone call or mention your current location, consider the following tips to reduce the risk of exposure to malicious hacking2:

  • Limit sharing. Think twice before disclosing important personal details.
  • Limit use. Turn off devices when not in use, or adjust settings to maximize privacy.
  • Assume the worst. AI can be hacked or breached like any other technology, so be aware that what you ask or say could show up later on.

If you are ever concerned that your devices have been hacked, ask your bank and other providers for advice on next steps.

1 “Artificial Intelligence Is Here—People Just Don’t Realize It,” HubSpot, January 2017.

2 “What you need to know about artificial intelligence and your privacy,” cyberscout.com.