Amazon recently added the ability for users to unlock their smart lock-equipped doors using Alexa. This is a welcome feature, but it does raise some concerns about intruders yelling through windows to tell Alexa to unlock your door. Is this a concern you should worry about, though?
For starters, the unlock feature for Alexa includes an extra little security measure. When you tell Alexa to unlock a door, you also have to say a four-digit voice code out loud to confirm. So even if an intruder was able to successfully yell through a window at Alexa, they’d need that unique code to actually bypass your lock.
But, I wanted to see if it was possible for Alexa to hear me through windows in the first place. I set up an Echo near my glass patio door and got to work.
As you can see in the photo above, I set the Echo near the patio door, but not right next to it—realistically, in most houses, the Echo won’t be directly in front of a window, but rather off to the side somewhere.
I stepped outside, closed the patio door, and started yelling “Alexa” so many times that the neighbors were probably thinking some girl named Alexa kicked me out of the house and I was making a last-ditch effort to somehow win her back.
Alexa wasn’t having it, though. I even cupped my hands around the glass to try and concentrate the sound, but that didn’t work either—the double-pane glass was doing a great job. It wasn’t until I moved the Echo about 3-4 feet directly in front of the patio door that I finally started to see results. I was able to trigger Alexa about 70% of the time, and was even able to fire off a couple of basic commands like, “What’s the weather?” and “What time is it?”—although it had a harder time deciphering commands than simply responding to hearing its own name.
Now it was time for the moment of truth—would I be able to unlock my own front door by yelling at Alexa through a window? It took me a couple of pain-staking tries, but I eventually got it to work. Although it would’ve been more difficult if my wife hadn’t been there to signal to me that, indeed, Alexa heard me correctly. Otherwise, I’d have to rely on the LED light ring atop the Echo and simply guess whether or not it worked.
So is it possible for someone to activate your Echo from outside? Yes, it’s possible. If you have Alexa sitting close to a window, or maybe if you have single pane glass (or you leave windows cracked open), then it would be easier to manipulate her from outside. But, in most situations, it just isn’t going to work very well.
Plus, even if someone wanted to unlock your smart lock using Alexa, they would need the voice code to do it. So it would be a futile effort from the start.