Imagine you are having a simple conversation with a friend or family member. Your kid wants a specific holiday toy, you’re thinking of trying a different hair product, and you need a new pair of sunglasses.
Naturally, the first places you might search for these products are sites like Google or Amazon. But before you even get to the search bar, ads pop up on your phone screen for the exact same product you were just talking about.
It could be a coincidence, but it’s important to make sure that nothing suspicious is going on.
Are our smartphones always listening to us?
The answer is really yes and no.
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What is a voice recognition assistant and what should I be aware of?
Smartphones often have built-in voice recognition assistants that can help us find answers to our questions, such as the Apple iPhone’s Siri feature. But these assistants are designed to listen to us only when commanded (i.e. “Hey Siri, what song is currently playing?”).
How do I know if my device is listening to me?
Every smartphone also has a built-in microphone, and your device should warn you when it uses its microphone to record you. When the microphone is in use, an orange dot will appear in the upper right corner of the screen, just above the Wi-Fi and battery icons. You can also swipe down from the top of the screen to see which apps on your phone are using the microphone.
Your smartphone is also designed to keep track of your data and search history.
This allows companies to send you personalized advertisements based on items you have clicked on or previously researched, enticing you to consume more of their products. This is more of a tool they use to get you into your wallet than to get your personal information.
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How can I restrict my phone from listening to me?
Just because our smartphones can listen to us, doesn’t mean we have to let them listen. You can limit your phone’s listening privileges by following a few simple steps:
1) Turn off the voice recognition assistant
How to turn off Siri
- go to settings
- Click “Siri & Search”
- Turn off the options: Hear “Hey Siri,” Press Siri’s side button, and Allow Siri on lock
- A popup will ask if you want to turn off Siri. Tap “Turn off Siri.”
How to turn off Google Assistant
- go to settings
- choose google
- Click on Account Services
- Click on Search, Assistant and Voice
- select voice
- Select Voice Match
- Close “Hey Google”.
2) Turn off the microphone on all applications
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How to stop your iOS device from listening to you
- click settings
- Scroll down to any app (Facebook, Snapchat, etc.)
- Turn off the microphone option.
If your phone has malware, scammers are tapping
Finally, another important consideration. If your device is running slowly and you receive strange pop-ups on your phone, your device may be infected with malware. You may accidentally click on a link that looks legitimate, but is actually a link that installs malware. If you have malware, scammers can do a variety of things, including spying on you and installing software on your device to mimic clicks and generate revenue for the scammers.
Lock down your technology
My greatest wish is to educate and inform you of the increasing real threats to each of our connected devices, and to encourage you to use strong antivirus security for everything in your life that is connected to the rest of the world. The best way to protect yourself is to install antivirus software on your device.
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Our highest recommendation, Total AV Includes real-time anti-malware protection and advanced AI-powered cloud protection to protect your PC, Mac, Android and iPhone devices from the latest zero-day threats.
It’s worth paying a small price to protect your personal information, data, and all your devices from hackers.
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