[Product Update] Your Bitdefender BOX can now protect against eavesdropping by digital assistants with a new feature called Private Mode

Want it or not, technology is making its way into our homes. Smart TVs, connected fridges and intelligent lights all work for your comfort and convenience. But, beyond a doubt, the centerpieces of your smart house are your home assistants. Some 70 million smart assistants are in use in the U.S. alone, according to a study published by Voicebot.

Throughout the day, your smart home assistants are listening in the background for the phrases “OK, Google!”, “Hey, Siri” and “Alexa!”. Your commands, together with other conversations going on at the time, are sent to the cloud, interpreted, and transformed into web searches or actions.

Although anonymized, these voice snippets might however include personally identifiable information such as addresses or names. Other times, digital assistants get triggered by mistake, recording up to 30 seconds of domestic activities in the background.

And, while digital assistants usually come with a hardware switch to kill the microphone, this solution is cumbersome, and customers rarely use it.

Introducing Private Mode, a convenient way to tame your assistants

At Bitdefender, user privacy is our top priority, and we’re constantly developing new technologies to help people stay in control of their data. In this new feature update for Bitdefender BOX, we included a new technology called “Private Mode” that stops your smart assistant(s) from listening to your conversations by temporarily cutting their access to the Internet. You can select how long your assistants will stay offline by simply setting a timer – when the time is up, they will automatically be granted access to the Internet. If you change your mind and need your digital servant up, just press a button to reconnect it without so much as leaving your couch.

12 comments

  • By Martin - Reply

    Doesn’t seem to make any difference, I’m afraid. Is this feature working in the UK? My Echo dots are responding normally. The wake word I use is “computer” – does that matter? Surely not.

    • By Bogdan Botezatu - Reply

      Hi, Martin. This feature does make a difference if you feel you need extra privacy during important conversations. When you say “computer” around your digital assistant, you’re inadvertently triggering it, which may result in your assistant recording up to 30 seconds of ambient conversation that was not meant to be heard. More than that, if you’re watching a video on TV where somebody says the word “computer”, you’d get your assistant in listen mode. We designed this feature for those discussions that you would not want overheard by a third party.

  • By Kurt - Reply

    Indeed, I don’t see what this option does. When I turn Private Mode on my Alexa and Google devices stay connected to the internet and respond perfectly to everything I ask them.

    • By Mihai - Reply

      Hello Kurt,
      When the Private Mode is activated from the Bitdefender BOX the smart assistant devices will still be connected but their capability of listening and sending the information to the cloud will be interrupted.
      Please make sure that the smart devices are connected to the BOX protected network and if the issue persists please get in touch with our support department to further investigate this matter:
      https://www.bitdefender.com/box/support/

  • By Don - Reply

    I just read the article about the Private Mode feature. However, I can’t find the option in the Bitdefender Central app (iPhone).
    Will this appear in a future upgrade release?

  • By Joti - Reply

    How about some real privacy with VPN integrated in the box
    All tv will use VPN
    In that case the box will be perfect

    • By Mihai - Reply

      Hello Joti,
      Thank you for your feedback and indeed we do have some good news since we are looking into implementing a VPN feature in the Bitdefender BOX.
      We don’t have yet an official release date but we will definitely keep you posted!

  • By Larry - Reply

    Do t see the option to set up private mode on the app????

  • By David - Reply

    why is there no option to turn it on from a computer rather than fiddling about with a phone?

    • By Mihai - Reply

      Hi David,

      We are working on implementing the Private Mode management from the web interface of Bitdefender Central. Stay tuned for updates.

      Thanks,
      The Bitdefender BOX Team

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