Amazon Sidewalk (1 Viewer)

Optimus Prime

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My first time hearing about this
=========================

There’s an eyebrow-raising technology buried inside millions of Amazon Echo smart speakers and Ring security cameras. They have the ability to make a new kind of wireless network called Sidewalk that shares a slice of your home Internet connection with your neighbors’ devices.

And on Tuesday, Amazon is switching Sidewalk on — for everyone.

I’m digging into my settings to turn it off. Sidewalk raises more red flags than a marching band parade: Is it secure enough to be activated in so many homes? Are we helping Amazon build a vast network that can be used for more surveillance? And why didn’t Amazon ask us to opt-in before activating a capability lying dormant in our devices?

I recommend you opt out of Sidewalk, too, until we get much better answers to these questions.

Sidewalk will blanket urban and suburban America with a low-bandwidth wireless network that can stretch half a mile and reach places and things that were once too hard or too expensive to connect. It could have many positive uses, such as making it easier to set up smart-home devices in places your WiFi doesn’t reach. (That can help your neighbors, and you.) But by participating, you also have no control over what sort of data you’re helping to transmit. In communities where Amazon Ring devices already over-police many doors and driveways, Sidewalk could power more surveillance, more trackers — maybe even Amazon drones.

Amazon seems oblivious to many obvious consumer concerns with its increasingly invasive technology. So let me say it: Remotely activating our devices to build a closed Internet of Amazon is not okay............

With Sidewalk, Amazon is creating a more robust network. Your lowly Echo speaker (or other compatible device) is already connected to your home’s private Internet connection. When Amazon transforms it into a so-called Sidewalk Bridge, your device creates a new network of its own that’s not WiFi. Instead, it uses common Bluetooth to connect devices nearby, and another type of signal (using the 900 MHz spectrum) to connect to devices up to half a mile away.

This new Sidewalk network can’t carry as much data as WiFi, but it’s still impressive: Sidewalk signals from all the Amazon devices in your neighborhood overlap and join together to create what’s called a mesh network.

“WiFi is constrained mostly to your home; it doesn’t have the range to go into your backyard and into the neighborhood. Cellular offers long-range connectivity, but it is expensive. Sidewalk splits the difference between those two and allows us to put billions of things at the edge of the network,” Arana said.

But here’s the rub: Sidewalk authorizes your Echo to share a portion of your home’s Internet bandwidth. It’s up to 500 megabytes per month — the rough equivalent of more than 150 cellphone photos. Amazon caps it at a rate of 80 Kbps, which the company says is a fraction of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high-definition video. Still, this traffic could count toward your Internet service provider’s data cap, if you’ve got one. The bill will be paid by you, not Amazon............


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Optimus Prime

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from same article

Turning Sidewalk off isn’t hard, but involves digging through some settings.

  • If you’ve got Echo devices, go to the Alexa app on a phone, then tap the More icon. Then tap on Settings, then tap on Account Settings, then tap on Amazon Sidewalk. In there, make sure “Enabled” is set to off.
  • If you’ve got Ring devices, go to the Ring app on a phone, then tap the three bars at the top left corner to get to the menu. Then tap Control Center, then scroll down to Amazon Sidewalk.
If you turn off Sidewalk on one kind of device, it should cover you for all of them. (Some people have complained they switched off the Sidewalk setting, but it turned itself back on. Amazon says it fixed the problem.)

One more thing to keep in mind: There’s no halfway option. If you turn off Sidewalk, you won’t be sharing your network with your neighbors, but your devices also won’t be able to access its network.

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anyone ever use this?

 
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The Amazon Sidewalk is the latest virtual expansion to improve a user’s experience, but some security experts have some concerns about the launch.

Hacking expert and author Chris Hadnagy said the consequences of the new network are unknown.

“Hackers are going to have a field day looking for the vulnerabilities here,” Hadnagy said.


Amazon said the Sidewalk uses the Wi-Fi signal from someone’s home and connects it through another Amazon device. The idea is a device will not lose signal and devices such as security cameras can be placed further outside a home.

However, Hadnagy said this could make your home’s private network vulnerable to literal strangers, walking outside, on the sidewalk……

 

TheRealJRad

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anyone ever use this?

I do. It's nice if I'm getting a larger delivery or may not be home. You can block garage delivery if you want. My only real (admittedly small) complaint is I wish I could make non-Key delivery my default and enable as I want.
 
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…..Honestly, we’re as upset as anyone else that Amazon has made this an opt-out service, in the same way that Ring—another Amazon-owned brand—has long forced device owners to opt out of its controversial Neighbors service.

When it comes to issues of privacy and security, we’re never fans of the “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” ethos.

The problem is only amplified by the potential conflicts with ISP service agreements—by making this an opt-out decision, Amazon has put its customers in the position of breaking their agreements with their ISPs by default, rather than allowing them to choose to do so. That’s just bad policy.

On a practical level, however, we actually trust Amazon’s software and security chops as much as or more than we trust those of just about any other major tech company.

Amazon’s retail business is a trusted partner that supports more than a million transactions a day, and its cloud services are relied upon by a who’s who of the Fortune 500 (including The New York Times), along with the CIA and who knows how many state and government agencies.

“I know there have been some issues with Alexa recordings, but in terms of security I would trust Amazon as one of the top one or two companies around,” Alrawi says. “And from our labs, when looking at Amazon Alexa devices, they’re one of the ones that rank highly in terms of security.”

Wirecutter prizes security and privacy—in fact, it’s one of the key criteria by which we judge electronic devices. However, every tech company we know has had, now has, and will continue to have some form of security vulnerability crop up: Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle—everyone has encountered something at some point.

Relatively speaking, Amazon has a comparably good track record (though Ring in particular has been plagued by privacy shortcomings that made the news). We didn’t panic when Apple launched AirTags—which involve a different but not dissimilar shared mesh-networking scheme—and for now we’re not terribly worried about Sidewalk as it exists now, either. If we get concerned, we’ll turn it off.

After noting all of his concerns, Alrawi concurred: “One of the things that mitigates this, for me, is that Alexa devices have automatic updates, so bugs and issues can be fixed quickly without needing user interaction,” he says. “Initially I was going to turn it off until I read the security policy, and now I don’t have a problem with it.

I would, though, be more careful with allowing apps and devices developed by third-party developers to use Sidewalk, because it is not clear how Amazon plans to keep third-party developers compliant with Amazon’s privacy policy.”……

 

CapitalCitySaint

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Does this apply to the FireStick? When I heard about this yesterday I was like "I don't have any Amazon products in my home" then remembered the Firestick which the remote can be voice activated if you hold down the button.
 

Zack Lee

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I just checked mine and it’s disabled and I’ve never opened it before. I guess I will have to keep checking to make sure they don’t turn it on. Seems like if they have the ability to enable it, they should also have to have some kind of way to explicitly opt out so that it can’t be undone.

“yes, i see the button to object but where is the button to strenuously object?”
 

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