Amazon’s new Sidewalk network is banking on your “laziness,” says cyber security expert

Consumer

(WSPA) – Are you comfortable with sharing your internet? If you use an Amazon device, chances are right now you are doing just that.

The company quietly launched its new shared network called Amazon Sidewalk Tuesday June 8. It gave users eight days to opt out before their devices connected to create the new service.

We looked into why cyber security experts are concerned and why they say Amazon “primed” you to do nothing about it.

Whether you know your neighbors, chances are right now your Ring camera and Echo speaker are linked to -their- devices through a new shared network called Amazon Sidewalk.

No text or email notifications went out to customers like The Orszaks in Greenville.

So when we showed up on their Ring they were surprised and not just by the TV crew.

“It’s the first I heard of it is when you came up. I think it’s wrong,” said Midge Orszak.

“It seems like they should have emailed everybody and told them about the change. It shouldn’t be opt out, it should be opt in,” said Jeff Orszak.

Cyber Security expert John Sinderman, the CEO of Pivotal IT, couldn’t agree more.

“I think what they’re counting on is the laziness of the user because they figure they’re just not going to turn it off,” said John Sinderman, the CEO of Pivotal IT.

Before we talk security what exactly are users who don’t opt out getting?

Amazon says Sidewalk creates a new network using existing Ring and Echo devices that now share a portion of your internet bandwidth. The service not only ensures your products still work, even if your internet goes down but it also provides more connectivity to products outdoors like lights and motion sensors.

“I don’t see the need for it. I’m able to get everything I need without this sharing,” said Mr. Orszak.

Amazon is quick to point out that Sidewalk “does not share your wifi” but Sinderman says while technically correct, that’s splitting hairs.

“They’re putting a device on their network that now will allow other devices from as far as a mile away to connect to that device on their network. In our world that is a potential vulnerability. It could allow access into your network from a network that’s not trusted,” said Sinderman.

Amazon says Sidewalk does not allow users to see what’s on each others devices. And in a statement the company tells 7News “Sidewalk is designed with multiple layers of privacy and security to protect the data traveling on the network and to keep customers safe and in control.”

But with breaches constantly in the news, the Orszaks feel uneasy about what they see as a hasty rollout of untested technology.

“This is too soon for me to be comfortable,” said Mrs. Orszak.

And Sinderman says if history is any indication, the new network will be a target.

“I think hackers will look at it as a challenge like they do everything else and will hammer it.”

Sinderman recommends, until there is more data, users should follow these steps to opt out:

RING APP:

  • Open the Ring app.
  • Tap the three lines in the upper left
  • Tap Control Center
  • Tap Amazon Sidewalk
  • Then toggle the slider button to off feature

ALEXA APP:

  • Open Alexa App
  • Tap three lines on bottom right
  • Navigate to Settings> Account Settings
  • Tap Amazon Sidewalk
  • Scroll to the bottom and toggle the slider to turn off feature

Keep in mind, just because you opt out once doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have to opt out again. With each app update you may have to go through the process all over again.

As for the Orszaks, they’re not about to stop using their Amazon products…

But they are opting out giving this technology more time to prove it’s secure before welcoming Sidewalk into their home.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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