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Amazon turning Alexa devices into an opt-out public WiFi mesh network

Summary

Amazon has caused a bit of a stir as an upcoming update to Alexa devices will turn them into a public Wi-Fi mesh network by default. 
 

Quotes

Quote

Amazon customers are being automatically opted in to Sidewalk, a feature set to launch later this year that the company says will connect Alexa devices to nearby WiFi networks, even those owned by someone else. Sidewalk uses Alexa devices, including... doorbells, to create a "shared network" meant to help "devices work better,". It allows nearby devices to use a portion of a neighbor's WiFi bandwidth so devices can have more range. "These Bridge devices share a small portion of your internet bandwidth which is pooled together to provide these services to you and your neighbors. And when more neighbors participate, the network becomes even stronger." "By sharing a small portion of their home network bandwidth, neighbors give a little – but get a lot in return," Alan Woodward, a professor at the University of Surrey who specializes in cybersecurity, told BBC News that Sidewalk should be an opt-in feature, adding, "It feels wrong not knowing what your device is connected to." Ian Thornton-Trump, CIO at Cyjax, told Forbes the launch was "deeply problematic from a privacy perspective." "The 'on by default' approach is not consumer-friendly," In an emailed statement, an Amazon representative confirmed Sidewalk would be automatically enabled for existing customers. As of Wednesday, Amazon was rolling out Sidewalk only in the US, but some outside the country on social media reported getting an email about its launch.

 

My thoughts

While I'm not a fan of this business model/idea, it's definitely been around for a while. People on Charter/Spectrum, Comcast XFinity, and even ISPs in the EU are already sharing their networks, likely without realizing it. I've always been wary of this though, as who knows what kind of security implications come with it, let alone how it might affect your network bandwidth for those on slower connections. At the very least I hope Amazon makes this Opt-In instead of Opt-Out but if ISPs are anything to go with, they won't/

 

Sources

Amazon
Gizmodo

Business Insider

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4 minutes ago, rcmaehl said:

Comcast XFinity, and even ISPs in the EU are already sharing their networks

 

From the linked article:

image.png.45b7f0a51a7a0dc864c7664b702e7207.png

 

It's certainly not common in Germany for your router to be a public WiFi hotspot. 
What is common, is that we do not use dedicated modems and instead combine modem and routers. 

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44 minutes ago, rcmaehl said:

My thoughts

While I'm not a fan of this business model/idea, it's definitely been around for a while. People on Charter/Spectrum, Comcast XFinity, and even ISPs in the EU are already sharing their networks, likely without realizing it.

You can disable it on Comcast XFinity in the modem/router panel. We personally have it disabled and the modem/router combo set in bridge mode to act as a modem only, however I am sure many people are unaware that it's on by default and that it can be disabled.

 

A mesh network controlled by Amazon however, what could go wrong... Just one of the many reasons I don't trust smart devices, even though I have those creepy google homes always listening.

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Can't wait for somebody to find some sort of vulnerability that lets them onto other people's private networks and fuck around with the IoT devices that are connected to the network (and worst).

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I imagine homeless people using it and camping out in front of people's homes to use their wifi.

wifi doesn't even travel that far, so I don't see how it would even be that useful

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4 minutes ago, SpaceGhostC2C said:

do not buy Amazon Alexa, Echo, Dot, Google Home, Nest, and the endless etc.

Why?

I mean I understand that Amazon's speakers are garbage and the software worse compared to Google's. But why not Google Home?

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1 minute ago, Senzelian said:

Why?

I mean I understand that Amazon's speakers are garbage and the software worse compared to Google's. But why not Google Home?

Different company, same concept. It is the concept that needs to fail. For mankind's greater good.

 

For starters, they don't pay us enough to use them (in fact, they even want us to pay them at this point). Still, i don't think there's any pecuniary compensation that would render them a net positive. There may be potential in the use of automation and computational power for a wider range of everyday activities. This model just isn't it.

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4 hours ago, Senzelian said:

 

From the linked article:

image.png.45b7f0a51a7a0dc864c7664b702e7207.png

 

It's certainly not common in Germany for your router to be a public WiFi hotspot. 
What is common, is that we do not use dedicated modems and instead combine modem and routers. 

It definitely is common in Germany. All "recent" Unitymedia "Routers/APs" have this feature built in and factory activated. 

This has been the case for a few years now. You did have the option to turn this off at any time tho. The "tradeoff" being the fact that you won't be able to connect to these wifi spots while out and about. 

 

This could change however with the recent takeover of Unitymedia by Vodafone. 

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8 minutes ago, Senzelian said:

Why?

I mean I understand that Amazon's speakers are garbage and the software worse compared to Google's. But why not Google Home?

Why trade Ebola with HIV? Amazon is like ebola. It's bad short term and doesn't ever recover. But Google is what always turns into full fledged AIDS with enough time...

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I'm sure this is a major violation of Xfinity's ToS. You can't be offering WiFi to others outside of your home with the exception of guest access; but not perpetually.

 

Xfinity enables their own WiFi on customers leased gateway modems, but its provisioned (think VLAN) behind another network and in theory shouldn't cut into your data caps nor provisioned bandwidth cap. By contrast, Amazon is taking a parasitic piggy-back on whatever ISP it's connected too.

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12 minutes ago, SpaceGhostC2C said:

Different company, same concept. It is the concept that needs to fail. For mankind's greater good.

 

For starters, they don't pay us enough to use them (in fact, they even want us to pay them at this point). Still, i don't think there's any pecuniary compensation that would render them a net positive. There may be potential in the use of automation and computational power for a wider range of everyday activities. This model just isn't it.

Speakers you can talk to need to fail?

Yeah, I mean... sounds - that's some evil stuff!

 

11 minutes ago, LYPTUS said:

It definitely is common in Germany. All "recent" Unitymedia "Routers/APs" have this feature built in and factory activated. 

This has been the case for a few years now. You did have the option to turn this off at any time tho. The "tradeoff" being the fact that you won't be able to connect to these wifi spots while out and about. 

 

This could change however with the recent takeover of Unitymedia by Vodafone. 

Did not know that!
I'm genuinely surprised. I assumed that Unity Media would also ship AVM routers instead of their own craptastic garbage. Friend of mine uses Unity Media and got a AVM Fritz!Box cable router.

 

10 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

Why trade Ebola with HIV? Amazon is like ebola. It's bad short term and doesn't ever recover. But Google is what always turns into full fledged AIDS with enough time...

Speakers are AIDS? Weird world you live in.

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5 minutes ago, Senzelian said:

Speakers you can talk to need to fail?

Yeah, I mean... sounds - that's some evil stuff!

Silly me, I thought you were honestly asking.

Don't mind me, continue with your day, sir.

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4 hours ago, rcmaehl said:

While I'm not a fan of this business model/idea, it's definitely been around for a while. People on Charter/Spectrum, Comcast XFinity, and even ISPs in the EU are already sharing their networks, likely without realizing it

The difference is that in cases of the ISP's doing it, the router already has the ability to cordon off the traffic...so in my opinion it would be a lot smaller risk when ISP's do it compared to devices that are connected into your network.

 

In this case, you could be one IOT exploit away from getting your wifi information compromised/access to your wifi

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1 hour ago, Senzelian said:

Speakers you can talk to need to fail?

Yeah, I mean... sounds - that's some evil stuff!

 

Did not know that!
I'm genuinely surprised. I assumed that Unity Media would also ship AVM routers instead of their own craptastic garbage. Friend of mine uses Unity Media and got a AVM Fritz!Box cable router.

 

Speakers are AIDS? Weird world you live in.

The one in which you're oblivious to what these corporations are doing. It's not the speakers that are AIDS, it's who they are being run by and what they are doing.

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Just now, RejZoR said:

The one in which you're oblivious to what these corporations are doing. It's not the speakers that are AIDS, it's who they are being run by and what they are doing.

Yup, they're listening to me. They are selling my data. They probably laugh at my stupidity. But to me that's worth to be able to turn my lights off with a voice command.

So I'll ask again, what exactly is the issue with those smart speakers?

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4 minutes ago, Senzelian said:

Yup, they're listening to me. They are selling my data. They probably laugh at my stupidity. But to me that's worth to be able to turn my lights off with a voice command.

So I'll ask again, what exactly is the issue with those smart speakers?

Your wilful ignorance is what's wrong with them.

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8 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

Your wilful ignorance is what's wrong with them.

Complaining about someone's ignorance, but not willing to educate, thats truly ignorant.

Not to mention personal attacks are incredibly counterproductive.

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2 minutes ago, Senzelian said:

Complaining about someone's ignorance, but not willing to educate, thats truly ignorant.

Not to mention personal attacks are incredibly counterproductive.

What am I suppose to educate when your response is literally "I don't care, I have nothing to hide or care about". It's not a personal attack either. I was just stating a thing. If you happen to find yourself in it, that's not my problem.

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9 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

It's not a personal attack either. I was just stating a thing.

- "You're ignorant. That's not a personal attack, that's stating a thing"

 

Hilarious piece of logic there

 

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Just now, RejZoR said:

What am I suppose to educate when your response is literally "I don't care, I have nothing to hide or care about".


In short: Awareness.


I can only care about the data that I am aware of. If you can make me aware of an issue that I might not know about, then you got my interest. But not by telling me I'm ignorant.

 

So no, my response isn't "I have nothing to hide or care about". My response is still that I don't care about them stealing my data or listening to me. That's a huge difference, which you should absolutely know, if you also know what these companies do with my data.

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27 minutes ago, Elisis said:

- "You're ignorant. That's not a personal attack, that's stating a thing"

 

Hilarious piece of logic there

 

If you're quoting, at least quote the whole fucking thing. Conveniently leaving out "willful" and all that... That's not a personal attack, that's a summary of what YOU wrote. You know, all the how they are listening to you and selling your data and how they laugh at you and you just don't care about any of it... What else is that eh?

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14 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

If you're quoting, at least quote the whole fucking thing. Conveniently leaving out "willful" and all that... That's not a personal attack, that's a summary of what YOU wrote. You know, all the how they are listening to you and selling your data and how they laugh at you and you just don't care about any of it... What else is that eh?

I'm clearly paraphrasing lmao. The meaning is preserved.

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^-^

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, RejZoR said:

What am I suppose to educate when your response is literally "I don't care, I have nothing to hide or care about". It's not a personal attack either. I was just stating a thing. If you happen to find yourself in it, that's not my problem.

Well, you explain how its harmful.

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