Have an Amazon device? Take action now or you may be sharing your internet with neighbors

RALEIGH, North Carolina -- If you have an Amazon device in your home like an Echo, Alexa, or Ring doorbell or floodlight camera, Amazon wants to create a shared wireless network by using your internet.

If you don't take action, Amazon is about to share your internet with your neighbors. It's called Amazon Sidewalk, and the company says it's supposed to help devices work better.

How it works is if one of your Amazon devices loses connectivity, your device would just switch to a neighbor's internet signal so the service wouldn't be disrupted.

"You're donating a portion of your internet bandwidth to a pool for Amazon to use. So, you're paying money for that internet, but now you're getting this free service, and then now you're giving some of it back for this pool," said Craig Petronella, an IT Cybersecurity expert with Petronella Technology Group, INC in Raleigh.

Petronella says sharing your internet like this could slow down your connection. Amazon says the total monthly data used by Sidewalk enabled devices is capped at 500 MB, about what it takes to stream ten minutes of high-definition video.

Petronella says the bigger concern is your privacy and security.

"It should be an eye-opener any time you add a device to your network, don't automatically opt-in until you study it and make sure that you're comfortable with the risks and then you also know how to manage and update the thing to make sure that you're taking the security seriously for that application or device," Petronella said.

Despite companies taking action to protect customer's information, it can still get into the wrong hands.

"I still don't want to trust any one company to do security right, I mean look at the headlines the breaches, all big companies and small companies are getting hit with ransomware and all sorts of nasty threats," Petronella said.

Amazon does go into detail about how it protects your privacy and security here.

Petronella suggests Amazon customers read exactly how Sidewalk will impact their security and privacy.

"If you're quick to add those things to your network but don't properly secure those devices, those are like Windows or doorways into your house that they have risks associated with them, and you need to manage those risks. And if you can't manage those risks effectively then you shouldn't use the service or the device," Petronella said.

If you have an Amazon device, it will automatically be included in the Sidewalk network on June 8.

You can opt-out, but you have to take action. You need to log into your Alexa or Ring app, go to settings, select account settings and turn off Amazon Sidewalk.

For information on how to opt-out if you have a Ring device click here. For other Amazon devices like Alexa, click here.
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