What Your Business Needs to Know About Amazon Sidewalk & Security

Voice assistants and doorbell cameras are not the only devices multiplying in homes. IoT devices are as well. They are also popping up in offices throughout Connecticut and across the rest of the country.

Amazon even has an Alexa for Business service that promotes productivity through their smart automated assistant.

That is why the announcement of Amazon Sidewalk is something that concerns business technology as much as home devices. Amazon is promoting this new “neighborhood network” for residential users. However, companies using Alexa-enabled devices can be impacted and the result could be network vulnerability.

What is Amazon Sidewalk?

Amazon Sidewalk is a service that Amazon is creating that extends Wi-Fi coverage for Amazon Bridge devices (i.e. those that Amazon has enabled to use Sidewalk).

Bridge devices can include:

  • Echo Devices
  • Ring Security Cameras
  • Outdoor floodlights
  • Tracking devices

It is important to know that Amazon is not creating the network like other ISP providers. It is tapping into the Wi-Fi of compatible device users to create this additional web of connectivity.

So, if you have a Ring security device at your office, Sidewalk can enable your security cameras outside to be set father away from your building without losing internet connection. This is the benefit that the network provides.

However, it also means that the business next to yours that also has an Amazon Bridge device could be using part of your Wi-Fi to enable their own connections.

This network is described as a low-bandwidth network that uses a small portion of the internet bandwidth of connected devices. These are pooled together to extend Wi-Fi connectivity throughout a larger outside area between the properties of participating users.

How Much Bandwidth is Used?

Amazon states that Sidewalk uses 80Kbps of bandwidth from each Sidewalk Bridge and that the monthly data is capped at 500MB.

Am I Paid for the Bandwidth Use?

You are not paid for the use of your bandwidth to power the Amazon Sidewalk network and are not charged to use it either.

What You Need to Know About Amazon Sidewalk Security

You May Already Be Opted In

One big concern with Amazon Sidewalk is that Amazon is opting in devices automatically. This means that your office or the office of a remote worker may already be sharing bandwidth with the network without even realizing it.

The service was expected to launch by the end of 2020 but devices may already have received the Sidewalk update that automatically enables use in the network.

Users have to specifically check their Amazon device settings to opt out of the Sidewalk network if they do not want to join or have their bandwidth used.

Amazon is Adding Three Levels of Encryption

Amazon is aware of the security concerns and has added several layers of encryption to protect user data when using the network.

Specifically, it has encryption at the:

  • Application layer
  • Network layer
  • Flex layer

It also states that users cannot see each other. This means that you will not know who may be accessing your Sidewalk Bridge.

As we know, hackers always look for system vulnerabilities to breach data, inject ransomware or hop from an IoT device to a computer or server. Time will tell what type of security vulnerabilities end up being discovered and exploited.

Users Can Share a General Location

Users have the ability to share a general location of their network to help other Sidewalk users. While this does not give the exact address of a Sidewalk device, it could provide a handy map for a hacker with an Alexa enabled device in their vehicle to access the network and try to breach a router through that connection.

Public Networks are an IT Security Concern

Any time you are on a public Wi-Fi network, there is a concern of a “man-in-the-middle” attack. This is when a hacker using the same public network uses that connection to breach the data of other connected users.

This same potential exists with Amazon Sidewalk because the network is public and usable by anyone with an Amazon Sidewalk enabled device. And when it is your own network being shared, this adds an even deeper level of concern.

Amazon is Allowing Other Device Manufacturers to Create Sidewalk Devices

One more privacy concern is that Amazon is inviting developers to create devices that can connect to Amazon Sidewalk. This means that it will not only be Amazon devices using your Wi-Fi or that are connected to the same public network as your Ring or Echo device.

Not all manufacturers will have the same level of scrutiny for their device security or the same level of concern about what types of data their device can access and transmit back.

How Secure Are Your Mobile & IoT Devices?

Mobile and IoT security are becoming a growing concern for businesses. Make sure you have yours properly protected by working with Sound Computers.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 860-577-8060 or reach us online.

January 19, 2021
Sound Computers Admin