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VERIFY: Yes, Amazon's Alexa is always listening, but it's not what you're thinking

How much of that smart home technology is sending personal information about us somewhere else and is it essentially spying on us? The Verify team got answers.

WASHINGTON — We are surrounded by technology that's tracking every move we make; every cent we spend every keystroke we type.

It makes our life easier, but it can also make us more vulnerable.

So, the Verify team met up with University of Maryland professor, Dave Levin for information. He founded Breakerspace, a lab for group undergraduate research in computer and network security. 

There's an endless list of home devices are tied to the internet. From smart light bulbs to smart TVs, the Verify squad found out how secure video devices are through an experiment. 

"This is the challenge right here with these kinds of devices is it’s really hard to do your homework...we had to set up a lab to understand the difference between what's secure and what isn't,” Levin explained. 

The first smart home device, the Verify team and Professor Levin checked out was the Ring device. The video doorbell works where you can check an app on your phone to see who is showing up at your home, but is it actually spying on you?

"We looked at, what is the data its sending? What we found is it’s not always watching it’s not always listening," Levin said. "it activates based on motion and based on someone ringing the doorbell."

However, Ring is sending back that video unencrypted, which makes it slightly more vulnerable

How about a video system inside of your home? Like the Google Nest camera, we found it does send your data encrypted and it’s always on. 

"It doesn’t seem to ever stop. Once I started this, the lights out, no motion and I put a box over it," Levin said. "It kept sending audio video, streaming all of it back to these Google servers."

The experiment showed the Amazon Echo and Google Home were not constantly recording and sending information. You had to say the trigger words "Ok, Google" or "Hey Alexa" - to get those to start recording.

Professor Levin said there are no regulations and that these devices require encrypted data transmissions.

Every manufacturer does things differently and you'll have to go deep into that user manual to find out how your specific devices are sending information.

Ultimately we can verify NO, your devices aren't always listening unless you say the trigger words.

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