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Echo accessed from non-home network

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Echo accessed from non-home network
« on: August 20, 2015, 12:54:26 am »
The Echo is basically a home-based device connected to one's home wireless network, right?  Well, I discovered today when fooling around with the Echo app on my phone while I was at doctor's office, that I could access my Echo from the doc's Wi-Fi.  I did not make the Echo do anything, but when I got home I got on a Wi-Fi that is not my system.  I got on the free xfinitywifi furnished by Comcast for its customers.  It's signal is all over my neighborhood, (and other neighborhoods around the country) and I can use I when not on my own home system. Very handy.

I was able to select a TuneIn station in the phone app and have the Echo play it when on the xfinity network!  OK, so how to tell Alexa to stop playing without asking her to and by only using the app?  I found that tapping the pause icon of TuneIn stopped it, but that is not the same as telling Alexa to stop.

Now, I realize that my Echo account is tied to my phone and tablets, so I cannot operate someone's Echo this way, nor can anyone operate mine -- unless they have my phone or tablet. Even so, I am not too happy to discover this undocumented feature of the Echo.

I called Amazon's Echo support and spoke with an "Echo Team" member about my concerns.  She genuinely thought this could be a security issue that she will bring up to engineering. She also agreed to contact me when she gets some further info on this situation.  She just might do it.

Meanwhile, let's continue to enjoy our Echo.

Offline jwlv

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Re: Echo accessed from non-home network
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2015, 04:36:19 am »
I do not think this is a security concern. Just about any internet-connected device is operable from anywhere, and not just only on your network. Think Wemo, SmartThings, Nest, etc. The apps for these devices are on your phone. If you lose your phone, it is possible that someone else can control these devices. If that happens, you should remotely erase your phone and change the passwords for your devices. On the Echo, you would change your Amazon password.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2015, 10:19:31 am by jwlv »


Re: Echo accessed from non-home network
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2015, 01:46:25 pm »
Yes, I use apps to access devices in my network to access from afar, but then,I set them up to do so. Anyway, thanks for commenting on my post.

FYI:   this is the full reply I received back from the Echo support person regarding my phone call . . .

"I completely agree!-- It would be a great feature to have Alexa be able to have some sort of firewall to prohibit the Echo app from working when not connected to the same network. This would be a great security feature just in case the device with the application gets misplaced.

I am so happy that you took the time to bring this to our attention! As you might have noticed, we are carefully reviewing potential features to add to the Echo in the upcoming months. Audible started out just like this one, a suggestion that someone thought would be a helpful ability! I have personally forwarded your message up to our Development team to see what we can do.

If you have any other ideas or concerns, you can reach Amazon Echo Customer Support by phone directly and toll-free at 1-877-375-9365. We're available from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific time, seven days a week.

Have a great week Mike! Let us know if you come up with anything else!"
PS:  Notice the direct phone number and times to call Echo support.  You might want to post this info at your site.


Re: Echo accessed from non-home network
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2015, 02:55:10 pm »
I believe the reason for this is that the ECHO actual communicates and pulls request with the amazon servers and the App sends the commands to the server from your mobile device.


Re: Echo accessed from non-home network
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2015, 03:26:29 pm »
Yes, I know how it works, but the point is why does it do what I described.  There could be a good reason, so I am waiting to hear back from the support person.


Re: Echo accessed from non-home network
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2015, 03:25:25 am »
With just my Echo hooked up to my home Wifi Router, I also can start and stop Tunein with my phone app from work using 4G.  The only time I do use this is when there is severe weather going towards home while I'm at work.  Tunein lets you play ham radio channels and there is one in my county with SKYWarn, which is ham radio operators reporting in weather alerts and conditions way before it hits the national weather service.

So if bad weather is approaching my home, I text my wife that I'm starting the ham radio station on Alexa from my phone, and she should tell Alexa to stop when it's past.



Re: Echo accessed from non-home network
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2015, 01:15:24 pm »
Thanks for reporting a benefit of thiss  I suppose another is control of lights and appliances away from home, too.


Re: Echo accessed from non-home network
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2015, 04:18:58 pm »
Sorry, but I disagree. I have 2 at home and my third is at my school. The reason I bought a third one is so I could bring her to school. I'm a music teacher and it's going to simplify my life one hundred fold by being able to access all of my music via Alexa. If they implement a non-home only protocol, I'm dead in the water.


Re: Echo accessed from non-home network
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2015, 03:08:20 am »
OK, a good point for your situation.

That said, it seems a bit over the top to buy yet another pricey Echo just to access  one's music at another location.  This is easy to do with a smartphone and a powered speaker -- Bluetooth or not.  I have over 17,000 tracks of my music stored on hard drives in the home and can access that music with the phone using the right apps and internet from anywhere in the world.  Remote streaming is not a difficult task and does not require an Echo.  Discussing details of how this is done gets this thread off topic, so I won't go there.  But, if anyone wants more info they can start a new thread about remote streaming of music without using an Echo, and I will chime in.