CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Amazon enabled its new free service called Sidewalk Tuesday.
It will automatically be enabled on many of Amazon’s Echo smart speakers, displays and some Ring devices to connect to other similar devices.
Unless you opt out, your devices will allow other people's devices to connect too. Sounds scary, but is it?
The new Sidewalk program creates a sort of internet mesh between connected devices. If your Wi-Fi goes down but your neighbor still has theirs, your Amazon devices could still be connected.
It wouldn't stop there. You could have a connection on the go.
"Your car could eventually connect, right? There could be something some Amazon device in your car that could connect with people's Echoes, and so, in that way, it would be very useful," Northern Kentucky University Computer Science chair and professor Maureen Doyle said.
Doyle says Amazon has done a lot with encryption and the communication should be secure, but there are concerns.
"Every product can eventually have a problem. Amazon seems to be pretty good, so you're probably alright with that, with what they have out there today. However, third-party apps that they're going to allow, I wouldn't run without some extra checks," Doyle said.
University of Cincinnati assistant professor Zag ElSayed says Amazon admits its security isn't 100%.
"Amazon says that it worked very hard and that they did a very good job with the security and securing it. However, it is an important point to remember that when they say there will be security updates, this means that it is not a complete project, right?" ElSayed said.
ElSayed also points out nothing in life is free and now Amazon will likely be able to pull even more data and information about your daily life and what you do and where you go.
Both professors say if you're not putting private information or shopping and banking details on it, you should be OK.
Amazon Sidewalk could enable many more items to be connected and make our lives easier, but be wary of any third-party apps. They could give criminals a new way to try to break into our lives.