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Protect your Google Home security settings against eavesdropping



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Google Home devices have a physical mute switch, but it completely disables the microphone. If you want to use voice commands with your device but still want to determine how much voice data Google Assistant stores, you must change some settings.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Security researchers recently discovered a vulnerability that allowed third-party apps to intercept households with certain smart speakers, including Google Home and Google Nest devices. The apps are installed on Google Home ($ 99 at Walmart) speakers and displayed as Google Assistant promotions, some of which allow you to share a ride, order pizza or play music from Pandora, Spotify or YouTube Music. [19659005] Unlike Amazon Echo-enabled devices that require third-party skills before you can use them, most Google Assistant actions are embedded in the software, which only requires a voice command to activate. That places the most responsibility for protecting user privacy on Google, which has already removed the offensive apps. That said, there are a few more things you can do to enhance privacy and security on your own Google account.

This is what you can do if you are concerned that your Google Home devices will be hijacked to spy on you.

First see what actions you have enabled

Although most Google Assistants Actions do not require installation on your part, some do, especially when you connect smart home devices such as lighting and door locks to Google Home. To view a list of all the actions that you have manually enabled:

1. Open the app Google Assistant on your mobile device. (If you don't have the Assistant app, go to the iOS App Store or Google Play and download it.)

2. Tap the explore icon (the small compass needle in a circle) in the lower left corner.

3. Scroll all the way down and tap Your actions .

4. Tap Linked .

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Rick Osterloh of Google discusses user privacy during the company's recent event in New York.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Here you can see all the actions that you have specifically authorized, most likely music services (such as Pandora or Spotify) or smart home devices (such as Nest or Wemo). If you see one that you do not recognize or no longer need (for example if you have changed your music service), you can delete it as follows:

1. Tap the icon for more information (three horizontal lines) to the right of the linked service that you want to delete.

2. Scroll down to Account status .

3. Unplug .

4. When the app asks for confirmation, tap Unlink .

Then find everything that Google Assistant has on you

First you want to navigate to the Settings page with all the information Google has tracked you.

1. Open your Google Home app.

2. Tap your personal icon (the small silhouette in a circle) in the lower right corner.

3. Tap under the heading Google Assistant More settings .

4. Select U in the menu bar at the top.

5. Tap Your details in the Assistant .

Here you can go back as far as your record goes through all the information that Google Assistant has stored about you. You can delete items one by one by tapping the trash can icon next to each item, or you can follow the following set of steps to delete everything.

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Every interaction you have with Google Home is recorded, including audio recordings of your voice commands, unless you tell Google Assistant not to .


Google

Delete some or all of your private data

Google Assistant saves audio recordings of every voice command that Google Home has ever heard (including fake triggers), helping the software to understand your voice and future command & # 39; It's better to perform, but isn't is not crucial to the operation of the device. To delete this and all other data, starting with the screen Your data in the screen Assistant :

1. On the page Your data on the page Assistant under Your activity Assistant tap My activity .

2. To the right of the search bar at the top of the page, tap the icon of three stacked points .

3. Tap Delete activity by .

4. If you want to start again with a clean slate, tap Always . Otherwise you can choose to delete all data collected in the Last hour Last day or create a custom range for example from the day you started Google Use at home until last month.

5. The app asks you to confirm that you want to delete your Google Assistant activity for the specified period. Tap Delete to confirm.

6. The app indicates: "Delete complete." In the lower right corner, tap Got it to return to the main page Google Assistant Activity .

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Choose how often your data is deleted

If you don't mind having Google Assistant remember your recent interactions with it, you can set the data to be automatically deleted after three or 18 months. From the main page Google Assistant Activity :

1. Scroll down to Keep activity until you delete it manually and tap Select to delete automatically .

2. Change the setting to 18 or 3 months and tap Next .

3. When the app asks you to confirm the change, browse to the bottom of the page and tap Confirm .

4. Tap Got it to return to the main page Google Assistant activity .

  google-home-hub-12 "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/2Q3NS1T8_VkEKu5te_w2G_MssMs=/2018/10/19/3ef86e34-5f3e-457f-9007-bd41fcc68fe6/ google-home-hub-12.jpg

The Google Nest Hub has a physical mute switch, but the Google Nest Hub Max, which has a webcam, has no physical shutter to cover the camera.


Chris Monroe / CNET

For the most extreme privacy option, pause all activity

Instead of regular purges, you can set up Google Assistant to keep no logs of your data at all but that can cause some hiccups with how well Google Assistant works. If your privacy is of the utmost importance to you and you are willing to occasionally resolve a few issues, go to the main page Google Assistant Activity :

1. Scroll down to Web and app activity is enabled and tap Change setting .

3. Disable the switch next to Web and app activity .

4. A screen appears warning you that "pausing Web and app activity may limit or disable more personalized experiences in Google services ." At the bottom of that screen, press Pause to prevent Google from registering your activity. Please note that changing this setting does not remove your personal information from Google, but that Google Assistant only stops recording more information in the future.

After you press Pause, you & # 39; returns to the main page Google Assistant activity .

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Smart speakers are not the only gadgets to watch out for – Sony's Aibo robot dog is just one of many smart devices on the market that listen, watch and remember.


Tyler Lizenby / CNET

That's all – you don't have to provide an open season for your private life or your personal information to enjoy your Google Home smart speaker or hub. This can be especially important if you are worried about restarting Google through the man-driven quality assurance program that it suspended in August, where reviewers listened to recordings collected from many of the more than 3.2 million Google Home devices in the wild.

Not to mention, smart speakers are just the beginning: nowadays robotic dogs record your face and voice Amazon uses human reviewers to solve security camera issues and Facebook admits to having employees listen to your video calls .

Originally published earlier this month.

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