Amazon’s smart voice assistance was not so helpful on Friday morning, when it went offline for a number of hours.

According to the outage tracker website, Downdetector.com, Alexa and Amazon Web Services started to see a spike in issues from around 7am GMT (2am EST) on Friday 21 January and lasting until just after 10am GMT.

The outage hit Alexa services in the UK and Europe, including Germany and Italy. However the problem now seems to have been resolved.

Image credit: Amazon

Alexa outage

There has been no official word from Amazon about the matter, and unusually there is no information on the AWS Service Health Dashboard either.

Alexa powers Amazon’s Echo smart speakers, which launched in 2014. Alexa speakers are working normally in the UK at the time of writing.

There have been a number of Amazon outages of late.

Last month Amazon Web Services (AWS) experienced a second (albeit brief) outage of its services for certain parts of the United States.

The previous week to that, AWS suffered a major outage that impacted services such as Prime Video, the Amazon e-commerce website, and other applications that use AWS such as Ring security cameras and doorbells.

Silicon UK at the time found a cluster of problem reports last week centred around New York and Washington, but reaching as far a field as Dallas and Houston in Texas.

That AWS outage lasted up to six or seven hours.

Smart homes

This latest outage has caused a security expert to warn about over reliance on smart home technology, after multiple users took to social media to complain their Alexa wake up alarm or smart lights had not functioned properly Friday morning.

“Although it is difficult to predict whether or not this is a cyberattack on Amazon’s servers, it does pose the question of whether or not we are putting too much emphasis on smart technology in our homes,” noted Jake Moore, global cyber security advisor at ESET.

“Cyberattacks are still possible despite the increasingly sophisticated anti-malware technology that exists, and therefore we must never become complacent against the possibility of such a hack which can dramatically effect large numbers of people,” said Moore.

“Once we put all our eggs into one technological basket, there becomes one simple point of failure that can have a huge impact in a smart home and therefore our daily lives,” Moore concluded. “Using smart devices to control lights, heating and other areas of a home is extremely tempting but it is advised to always know if the backup “old fashioned” switches are still applicable.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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