Some Amazon Device Features May Have Security Risks. Have you heard of Amazon Sidewalk? If not, it’s something you should be aware of.
Depending on your point of view, the new feature, which enables by default on a wide range of Amazon devices by default on June 8th of this year (2021), is either unbelievably awesome or incredibly troubling.
The idea is simple: It’s a technology that allows all of your Amazon device features to connect to your network with little to no fiddling. So you don’t have to worry about logins or settings, you plug your new device in, and it’s ready to go like magic.
In particular, currently, it works on the following devices:
- Ring Floodlight Cam (2019 and later)
- Ring Spotlight Cam (Wired) (2019 and later)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019 and later)
- Echo (3rd Generation and later)
- Echo Dot (3rd Generation and later)
- Echo Dot for Kids (3rd Generation and later)
- Echo Dot with Clock (3rd Generation and later)
- Echo Plus (all generations)
- Echo Show (all models and generations)
- Echo Spot
- Echo Studio
- Echo Input
- And Echo Flex
The “Sidewalk Bridge” is to fill the gap between the network you have set up inside your home and devices that utilize low-power wireless connections like BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).
The spectrum used by these devices has a practical range of about half a mile. So when the Sidewalk Bridges in your house are enabled, they allow anyone who walks by to connect automatically.
While it wouldn’t be possible to walk past your neighbor’s house and stream a movie from Netflix using the technology, it inevitably has the effect of co-mingling the signals of your Echo devices and those belonging to your neighbors. That, in turn, creates a low-energy mesh network that could potentially cover your entire neighborhood and perhaps even beyond.
While this sounds like it would be fantastic, it does have some profound security implications. Therefore, you should consider whether or not you want to leave the Amazon Bridge enabled, or you’d prefer to opt out until all of the kinks are out of the system.
If you’d prefer to opt-out on your Alexa mobile app, go to More -> Settings -> Account Settings -> Amazon Sidewalk. Note that you cannot disable this feature from your desktop, so you’ll have to use your smartphone or tablet.