cybersecurity

Learn how to opt-out of Amazon’s new Sidewalk program

Don’t take a (side)walk on the wild side with your personal data. In a time when we all are hyper-vigilant about cybersecurity, it seems inconceivable that one of the world’s largest companies would roll out a product that could potentially compromise our personal and business data security.

Well, cue Amazon Sidewalk.

 

Amazon Sidewalk, launched earlier this month, connects your smart home gear (Echo, Ring, etc.) using low energy Bluetooth and 900MHz radio signals — along with a small portion of your home’s Wi-Fi bandwidth — to create a series of mesh networks. These small networks allow you to keep Wi-Fi devices connected further away from your router than previously possible, and even working several blocks from your home.

This feature, however, is not limited to your own home network. Other people — your neighbors, passers-by — with Sidewalk-enabled devices may become cloud-connected using these “bridges” in your home. The applications of Amazon Sidewalk are benevolent in their intent — keeping your smart products connected even when they extend beyond your Wi-Fi’s range. The technology may keep your security camera connected even when placed far away from your router. Or perhaps, the Sidewalk networks can help you locate a loved one with dementia who has wandered away from home. Sidewalk may even keep your devices connected if your home internet goes down (assuming others nearby still have internet access).

On the other hand, Amazon Sidewalk introduces the possibility of security risks. While the company has gone to great lengths to utilize multiple layers of encryption to prevent unauthorized access to private data, it’s impossible to predict the actual efficacy of these measures without more testing. As cybercrime gets easier and easier to commit, we should always operate under the assumption that sooner or later, criminal entities will find a way to hack these devices and expose our private information.

Furthermore, all Sidewalk-capable devices are automatically enabled to participate in the Sidewalk program — unless you opt-out.

Here’s how to turn off Amazon Sidewalk.

 


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