IoT devices, like smart speakers and IP security cams, have been skyrocketing in use over the last few years. By the end of 2021, there are expected to be over 46 billion IoT devices connected worldwide.

One of the leaders in this area is Amazon, who has a majority of the voice speaker market and has expanded its offerings by acquiring security device maker, Ring. The company is about to launch a disruptive idea that could significantly impact network security for both homes and offices.

Amazon announced its new Amazon Sidewalk shared low-bandwidth network in the fall of 2019, but it hasn’t been until recently that the network is getting ready to roll out. Over the past few weeks, compatible devices have been opted in and users have noticed Sidewalk appearing in their settings.

This network may already be launched by the time you read this, as Amazon previously stated that it was due to launch by the “end of 2020.”

What’s this shared network all about and why should you be concerned? We’ll go through all the details next!

What You Need to Know About Amazon Sidewalk

What’s Amazon Sidewalk All About?

Sidewalk is a shared network that is designed to blanket an area with a low-bandwidth Wi-Fi. The network is powered by users of compatible devices. These devices are referred to as a Sidewalk Bridge.

For example, if you own an Echo voice speaker that is opted into the network, a portion of your network’s bandwidth will be used and combined with that of your neighbors that also have a Sidewalk Bridge device.

This “borrowed” bandwidth allows coverage for select devices outside. For example, allowing you to set a Ring security camera at the perimeter of your property where your own Wi-Fi won’t reach.

Another helpful use of the neighborhood network is if you have a smart tracker on a keychain or wallet, it will allow you to better pinpoint the lost item’s location because the tracker may be connected to the Sidewalk network.

How Much Bandwidth Does Sidewalk Use?

Amazon states that Sidewalk uses a maximum of 80Kpbs from a Sidewalk Bridge. The total monthly data used by Sidewalk is capped at 500MB per account.

It’s important to note that while users aren’t having to pay to use the Sidewalk network, they also aren’t getting paid for the use of their data and bandwidth.

What Are the Security Concerns with Sidewalk?

Amazon is using three levels of encryption to help keep the network and connected devices secure. The company is also putting up a barrier so Sidewalk Bridge owners can’t see who is connected to their bridge.

However, as we all know, hackers love public networks and this is where data breaches often happen. It’s only a matter of time until a hacker with their own Sidewalk compatible device finds a way to compromise the network and possibly those owner networks connected to it through an Echo speaker or other device.

Some major security concerns in addition to the above are:

  • Amazon is opting devices in: Your home or office smart security cam or speaker may already be opted in without you realizing it. Amazon chose not to make the initial opt-in optional. Users must specifically change their settings to remove their device from Sidewalk.
  • Users can share general vicinity: While the network won’t show a device’s actual address, Amazon has a feature that allows users to share the general vicinity of the device. This just adds to the potential for security risk.
  • 3rd parties can participate: Amazon is inviting 3rd party developers to create or update devices to be compatible with Sidewalk. This increases the security concerns because more developers mean more chance for security vulnerabilities.

What Devices Can Use Amazon Sidewalk?

Before you try to go outside with your laptop to see if you can connect to this new shared network, you need to know that only Amazon-approved devices can use it. This is not a normal public network that any internet-compatible device can connect to.

Currently, Amazon lists the following as Sidewalk Bridge devices that can connect to the new network:

  • Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
  • Echo (2nd through 4th Gen)
  • Echo Dot & Dot for Kids (2nd through 4th Gen),
  • Echo Dot with Clock (3rd through 4th Gen),
  • Echo Plus (1st through 2nd Gen)
  • Echo Show (1st through 2nd Gen)
  • Echo Show 5
  • Echo Show 8
  • Echo Show 10
  • Echo Spot
  • Echo Studio

How Secure Are Your IoT Devices?

Smart devices are being added regularly to business networks. How protected are your IoT devices? Onsite Techs of Rhode Island can do a full assessment and ensure yours are set up securely

Contact us today to schedule a consultation at 401-415-6290 or reach out online.