Amazon Sidewalk Online Security Nightmare

Just when you think you’re safe, Amazon goes setting up a brand new security threat that puts you, your family, and your business at risk. Continue reading to learn about the Amazon Sidewalk online security nightmare.

Recently, we published an article that highlights Apple’s surreptitious “Find My” network and discussed how it can complicate your effort to stay anonymous while in possession of your phone. Without your knowledge, Apple uses your Wi-Fi and cellular data connections to report the locations of nearby Apple users.

Amazon Sidewalk Online Security Nightmare

Have you every heard of Amazon Sidewalk? If so, you’re in a minority. Most people haven’t heard about this Amazon program because Amazon knows that informed users would resist. Let’s talk briefly about Amazon Sidewalk and how it affects your life and business.

What is Amazon Sidewalk?

Amazon will launch, on June 8, 2021, a mesh network that shares Wi-Fi connections through its Echo, Ring, and Blink devices.

Every owner of Amazon devices will unwittingly provide internet access to everyone and anyone in proximity to their home, business, or apartment.

Amazon devices such as Echo, Ring, and Blink will become Wi-Fi beacons that allow passersby to use your internet connection on their smartphone or tablet.

Some neighborhoods and businesses zones have a high concentration of Amazon users. Amazon will convert individually owned devices such as Echo, Ring, and Blink into Wi-Fi access points. The signals from these devices will overlap, creating a Wi-Fi mesh that will eventually eliminate the need for cellular data plans.

Initially, the bandwidth created by Amazon Sidewalk won’t permit people to stream Netflix videos through your community’s Amazon devices. Sidewalk can, however, create unmonitored access to anyone with Sidewalk-enabled devices, including an emerging selection of trackers.

When your home or business loses internet connectivity, Amazon’s Sidewalk mesh network can keep your Ring and other devices operational.

Here’s how Amazon makes Amazon Sidewalk seem innocent and innocuous to you:

Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better. Sidewalk can help your compatible devices automatically connect or reconnect to your router. It can also extend the coverage for Sidewalk-enabled devices such as, Ring, Smart Lights and pet and object trackers, so they can stay connected and continue to work over longer distances. Sidewalk uses a small portion of your Internet bandwidth to provide these services to you and your neighbors.

This setting will apply to all of your supported Echo and Ring devices that are linked to your Amazon account. You can update this setting at any time. (Available in select countries.)

– Amazon Alexa Mobile App “Amazon Sidewalk” settings page.

Why is Amazon Sidewalk an Online Security nightmare?

Some of the “selling points” of Amazon Sidewalk sound good. They add to convenience, they keep your devices connected when the internet goes down. This mesh network may eventually erode the monopolies of cellular data networks.

Let’s face it: Sidewalk is just one more way to invade your privacy while giving the government, corporations, and practically anyone else access to your personal, family, and business data.

Access Control (Hackers)

Amazon Sidewalk grants anonymous access to anyone and everyone who enters the vicinity of your home or business. Hackers and other cybercriminals will comprise at least some people who connect to your devices.

You pay for others’ access

Suppose you have a metered internet connection. Amazon’s Sidewalk network may grant access to your neighors’ Ring doorbells through your ISP account. That leaves you with less bandwidth to use without other users’ picking up the tab.

Privacy and security

Thanks to Sidewalk, Amazon will know the whereabouts of everyone by tracking the location of every Sidewalk-enabled device. Amazon knows who’s walking down the street, visiting your home, or unlocking your door.

Don’t forget about Amazon’s facial recognition software that it has already shared with hundreds of “law enforcement” agencies.

Amazon will have eyes and ears on every home or apartment in your neighborhood, including, eventually, all those that don’t use Amazon devices.

Amazon Sidewalk Options

Apple users cannot opt out of Apple’s “Find My” mesh network. You’re stuck. Right now, Amazon users have a choice. You can turn it off, at least right now.

How do I turn off Alexa Sidewalk?

You can disable Amazon Sidewalk in a few easy steps.

Start Alexa Mobile App

On your Smartphone or tablet, open the Alexa app.

Access Alexa’s “More” menu

In the bottom right corner, tap the “More” menu option.

Use the Alexa "More" menu.
Begin disabling Alexa Sidewalk by tapping the “More” button in the bottom right of Alexa.
Choose “Settings” option

On the following screen, tap “Settings.” See the image below for help locating this option.

Choose the "Settings" option from Alexa's "More" menu.
Choose the “Settings” option from the Amazon Alexa “More” menu.
Choose “Account Settings” from the menu

Tap “Account Settings” to move one step closer to Alexa’s Amazon Sidewalk options.

Choose the "Account Settings" option
Tap “Account Settings” from Alexa’s “Settings” menu.
Tap “Amazon Sidewalk”

You’re getting close now. Just tap the “Amazon Sidewalk” option from the Amazon Alexa “Account Settings” screen.

Choose "Amazon Sidewalk option from the "Account Settings" menu.
Choose “Amazon Sidewalk” from the Amazon “Account Settings” menu.
Amazon enables Amazon Sidewalk by default

At this time, the Amazon Sidewalk screen still says, “Coming Soon.”

Here, you’ll notice that Amazon has enabled Amazon Sidewalk on all your Alexa devices by default.

Amazon enables Amazon Sidewalk by default.
Your Alexa App has enabled Amazon Sidewalk for all your devices.
Disable Amazon Sidewalk

To disable Amazon Sidewalk, tap the toggle switch on the Amazon Sidewalk screen. You’ll see the switch move to the left. The screen will now say, “Disabled.”

Amazon Sidewalk is now disabled for Alexa.
You’ve successfully disabled Amazon Sidewalk using the Amazon Alexa mobile app.

Check this screen often just in case Amazon turns Amazon Sidewalk back on without your knowledge.

Is Amazon a trustworthy tech company?

No. To begin with, Amazon has abusive human resources policies that make it second only to Apple in its human rights violations. As an abusive employer, Amazon doesn’t limit its egregious behavior to China. Many well-publicized reports have documented Amazon’s abuse of American workers.

Regarding technology, you need to read an article published by ExpressVPN: 5 ways Amazon spies on you (even if you’re not a customer).

Learn more from Simple Online Security

You never heard of Apple’s “Find My” network until we reported it. Now, you know about Amazon Sidewalk, another mesh network that erodes the boundaries between homes, neighbors, strangers, and hackers.

Simple Online Security publishes many resources that help make cyber security understandable, easy to implement, and convenient.