Cybersecurity expert: Amazon Sidewalk doesn’t raise safety concerns

Local News

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Amazon has launched its new feature, Sidewalk, and it is raising some eyebrows.

Sidewalk, which Amazon automatically enabled on Tuesday, is a shared network that connects Amazon devices in your home, and even in your neighbors’ homes, to each other.

The tech giant said it helps devices work better, but some question its security.

Cybersecurity Expert Patrick Siewert of Professional Digital Forensic Consulting, said there is not too much to be worried about when it comes to safety.

“It’s not necessarily a matter of anything creepy happening, it’s these companies doing what they were built to do which is make money,” he told 8News.

Sidewalk works by sharing a portion of your Internet bandwidth with the other nearby Amazon devices, pooling them together to create one, shared network.

Amazon said Sidewalk can simplify new device set up, help find pets or valuables with Tile trackers and help devices stay online even if they are outside the normal range of their home WiFi.

Siewert, though, does not see a big benefit in you having this feature enabled.

“It seems like to me, the benefit is for the people collecting data,” he said, “They use this information to market towards you, they sell the data to other companies.”

However, he does not see any major security concerns with the new feature.

“Usually these things have a pretty good amount of security so I would say that concern is a little less, particularly if you have good passwords and even with hidden networks,” said Siewert.

“If it were up to me and it were my devices, I would probably opt out of it. I like to keep as little bit of my bleeding information out on the Internet as possible,” he explained.

To turn the feature off, Echo users will need to update their preferences in the Alexa app by choosing Settings, Account Settings, Amazon Sidewalk, and then selecting “off” to disable the service. 

Ring customers can opt out in the Ring app by choosing Control Center, Sidewalk, and then tapping a slider button.

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