Your smart speaker is listening to you, but who’s listening to your smart speaker?
Privacy and home network cybersecurity are at the heart of a new startup co-founded by David Knudsen, best known locally for his two-year tenure on the St. Helena City Council.
Everything Set launched last week when its app went live on Apple’s App Store and Google Play. The service monitors a subscriber’s home Wi-Fi network and uses artificial intelligence algorithms to find patterns in the data usage of each device. It alerts the subscriber of anomalous activity and pinpoints potential vulnerabilities.
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In layman’s terms: If your smart speaker is talking to its parent company while you’re using it, OK. If it’s talking to an unknown server in Moscow while you’re sleeping, not OK.
Everything Set has been in development for two years. Knudsen said he got the idea when his wife expressed discomfort about adding more smart devices to their home. He realized she had a point.
“Smart devices are increasingly a part of our life because they’re convenient and handy, but we actually don’t know what they’re doing,” Knudsen said. “Yes, I can download tools to track my network activity, but because I’m not comparing it to any other data, my insights are very limited.”
Recent technological advances have made it easier to sift through vast amounts of data from various devices — Sonos, Ring, Peleton, Flume, Nest, smart TVs, baby monitors — and sort out what’s normal and what’s not, Knudsen said. Threats include Mirai malware, which uses an infected network’s bandwidth to launch botnet cyberattacks.
During a year of beta testing, Everything Set found that 10 percent of users had devices that were “doing inappropriate behaviors,” Knudsen said. One percent of the data was going to Russia, and another 1 percent was going to China, he said.
Some vulnerabilities were patched with firmware updates. Other devices needed to be replaced with updated versions.
The Everything Set app is available as a free demo. The hardware comes in a box that attaches to a home router and is provided for a monthly subscription. Early users can get the service free for the first year with a $10 set-up fee.
Everything Set is currently geared toward homes and small businesses in the U.S., but Spanish and French versions should be available by the end of 2022, Knudsen said.
A software developer who moved to St. Helena 16 years ago, Knudsen said he was surprised to find a small but “vibrant community” of local people working in tech.
“There are a lot of people here quietly doing tech work,” he said. “It’s not an adjunct to Silicon Valley, but the Bay Area is awash in tech talent, and some of them live here.”
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You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Helena Editor
Jesse has been a reporter for the St. Helena Star since 2006.
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