Table of contents:
The Spanish National Intelligence Center (CNI) has released a guide with tips, includingTurn off the voice assistant Siri , or at least limit its functionality, to protect the privacy of users of iPhone iPad, Mac, and other Apple devices.
Voice assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant have long been accused of listening to their owners through questionable practices, but now the National Cryptological Center, under the CNI, is expressly speaking out against Siri.
At a general level, it recommends "avoid the use of Siri as much as possible", although the entity proposes some configurations to avoid risks.
The CNI mentions that our voice is sent to Apple, and recalls that in the past the company recognized that its subcontractors accessed the recordings, even some where users didn't know Siri was listening.
Specifically, the CNI proposes three general actions:
- Disable Siri on the lock screen.
- Prevent Siri from scanning apps with sensitive data.
- Do not use Siri Shortcuts that handle sensitive information.
The goal is that if an employee listens to what we say to Siri, they are less likely to discover compromising details.
How to improve Siri privacy
From the CNI, although it does not recommend using the voice assistant in general, they propose some configurations that limit its risks, and that they are easy to apply from the iOS menu.
The three key changes in iOS (iPhone and iPad) are these:
Settings -> Siri and Search -> Improve Siri and Dictation -> Off
Settings -> Siri & Search -> Siri with lock screen -> Off
Settings -> Siri & Search -> Lock screen suggestions -> Off
Also, from the same Siri menu it would be interesting to deactivate its access to GPS location, and unlink the assistant from those apps where we handle private data.
Lastly, the CNI believes that we should avoid shortcuts that perform delicate actions. Since a simple voice command can initiate them, there is a danger that someone will impersonate us, either with their voice or through a recording.
Although this topic generates a lot of confusion, for example, if mobile phones listen to us to display advertising, it is clear that voice assistants represent a certain invasion of privacy, especially when their creators review the recordings, and even subcontractors have access to what we say.
The CNI advice against Siri is very reasonable, although other large multinationals such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft also collect huge amount of personal data, and we must strive to protect our privacy on the Internet.