TECH BYTE: Safely Setting Up Your Devices

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Digital voice assistants, and do-it-yourself home security systems were popular Christmas gifts this year.

There are ways to keep your personal information safe from hackers after you set up these new devices.

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Best Buy’s Nathan Roach says voice assistants are easier to set up than you might think.

“It can be a little overwhelming when you first think about it, but it’s really as simple as downloading an app, and then really just putting in some basic information, and then, you start learning the steps on how to use the voice assistant – the features, what you can actually do with it,” Roach said.

And even though voice assistants are pretty popular items, there are growing privacy concerns over these devices always listening, and home security systems being easy to hack into.

Roach says if you’re smart about using these devices, there’s no need to worry.

“Voice assistants I do think are an extremely safe device,” he said. “Like anything that’s on the Internet though, there’s always a chance that somebody could gain access to it. What people really need to understand is it’s not so much the voice assistant that we really need to protect as much as it is things like our wireless network at our home.”

He says to make sure your network is password protected, and that you don’t use the factory password that comes with your device when you buy it.

“It’s important to set up things like two-factor authorization, which is simply just making sure if somebody were to log into your account from a different device, you’ll receive a text message and know that something happened.”

So is your voice assistant really always listening? Roach says yes and no.

Take the Google Home, for example, which is on a seven second loop.

“What it’s listening for, and where people say it’s always listening is it’s listening for that command, for you to say, ‘OK, Google,’ or if you have an Amazon device, saying, ‘Hey, Alexa,'” Roach said. “It’s waiting for that command, and once it gets that command, that initiates it to basically to send a signal out for weather, or whatever it may be.”

Roach says voice assistants are safe, and people should be confident putting them in their homes, just use good Internet safety when installing them and other devices.

If you still need help setting up any of your new tech products, Roach says Best Buy can help with that.

They have a membership program called Total Tech Support, where workers can come to your home and set everything up.

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You can watch Emily Cassulo weeknights on News 12 Now at 6 and Prime News at 7 with John Mercer. Emily also does stories on different tech products and issues for Tech Byte, which airs Mondays on News 12 Now. She joined the WDEF news team in September 2016 from News 12’s sister station in Columbus, Mississippi, where she worked as an anchor, producer and reporter. Emily is no stranger to the Volunteer State. Before moving to Mississippi, she worked at WBBJ-TV, covering crime and severe weather throughout West Tennessee. She loves living in Chattanooga, and exploring what the Scenic City has to offer. Emily is a Florida native, graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism and minor in political science. While in college, Emily worked part-time as a reporter/web producer at News/Talk 96.5 WDBO. She broke her first news story there, which made national headlines, and covered the 2010 Central Florida congressional elections and the high-profile Casey Anthony trial. When she’s not busy reporting, Emily enjoys shopping, reading, playing the piano, and spending time with family and friends. Feel free to e-mail her at ecassulo@wdef.com if you have any story ideas or just want to say ‘Hi.’