Oklahomans React To Amazon’s New Wi-Fi Sharing Feature

Tuesday, June 8th 2021, 10:25 pm

A new Amazon feature lets strangers tap into your Wi-Fi through your devices. It's called Amazon Sidewalk.

Two cyber security experts told News 9 it's all in the fine print. Their message, do your research about devices like Amazon Alexa.

“They are using Bluetooth low-energy to create a wireless mesh to expand the use of the wireless network in your house. They are stiffening off a small portion of that and sharing it across the community,” said Patricia Hammar, COO of Control Cyber.

While the new feature does have its perks like expanding your network outside of your house. Cyber security experts are warning people to double check privacy settings and access to private information.

“People should have a backup copy of everything that they consider important data, and it should not be stored publicly on a system that is able to access the internet. That could be stored on a thumb drive that they keep in their safety deposit box,” said Teressa Rule, CEO of Control Cyber.

Amazon released a statement that said in part "sidewalk is designed with multiple layers of privacy and security."

Tammy Risher said while Amazon devices do a good job of keeping people connected, she does not want strangers using her Wi-Fi.

“We don’t want our neighbors or anybody else getting on our bandwidth, somebody in the street in a car, getting on our bandwidth and slowing it down,” said Risher.

People who want to do more research can disable the feature and opt-in later if they want.

“The disable feature is easy to do, you just have to go into your account, in your settings it will say ‘Sidewalk Feature’ and you just click it off,” she said.

Cyber security experts said if you do decide to opt-in, Amazon Sidewalk would only be sharing a small portion of your network with your neighbors.