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Astro Robot: another privacy nightmare from Amazon

Imagine a poorly working surveillance camera in your household that follows you and constantly tracks everything you do. Sounds terrible, right? It seems that Amazon wants to sell you another privacy nightmare.

Astro Robot: another privacy nightmare from Amazon

What is Amazon Astro?

Amazon Astro is Amazon’s upcoming household robot that tracks people in your house and performs home monitoring tasks and other helper duties. It patrols your premises, tracks your behavior patterns, and uses facial recognition to identify household members. Users control the robot from a special application that will alert them if something unusual happens.

For example, it can follow a stranger who visits you or react to unusual sounds such as fire alarms. It further investigates any suspicious activity and sends the owner a video recording of what’s happening in their home. You can also monitor your house remotely and even communicate and help your household members when you’re not around.

To navigate your premises, Astro needs a detailed map of your home, so it stores it in its systems. It can also be synced with the Ring doorbell, another dodgy Amazon gadget.

Possible threats

Considering Amazon’s poor reputation when it comes to privacy, this device doesn’t sound good even on paper. The cybersecurity community has already shown their concern, as leaked Amazon documents suggest many security flaws. Here are some of the issues:

  • Privacy violation. The first concern is that the device poses a significant privacy threat. Amazon is infamous for its privacy politics, and now we allow them to acutely monitor our most personal space — our home. The device also contains a lot of biometric data. So, the corporation can receive tons of information about its users’ personal space, and we are not sure how that data will be used. Another issue is that you violate the privacy of the people visiting you, as the robot monitors their actions without their consent;
  • Cybersecurity threats. As with other internet-of-things devices, there is the possibility of a hacker’s attack. Imagine how much data about your household they could see. It’s like breaking into your house remotely. Moreover, they may mess with the device’s data and cause you additional trouble. For example, cause false alarms, false identification, etc.;
  • False sense of security. Many users may get more relaxed and rely on the robot as their primary security tool. However, analysts have pointed out the device has some major flaws. Its imperfect recognition mechanisms may not function properly. Moreover, it has navigation issues and may get lost on your premises.

How to protect yourself?

Here are some tips on how to minimize the potential threats:

  • Minimize the amount of IoT devices. Each of them introduces potential threats, so use only the ones you really need;
  • Use a VPN. We recommend installing it on your router to protect your whole network at once. It will stop hackers from intercepting your traffic and causing you trouble. Also, make sure to protect your devices to avoid any issues with the Astro app;
  • Use strong passwords for your accounts to reduce the risk of hackers accessing your accounts.

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