Using Alexa without openHAB cloud

Hi,

I’m using Alexa to control my lights, therefore I have installed the “openHAB cloud” skill.
Everything is working great, but I have some kind of security concern.

No I can access my openHAB dashboard (Paper UI, Log View) from every PC in the world,
the only think I need to do is logging in into https://myopenhab.org

Of cause it’s protected by a email + password, but my strategy was that my “Smart Home System” is only accessible with in the local area network, if a connecting from outside is needed I will build a VPN connection.

So my question is, is it possible to disable access to the openHAB dashboard but keep the functionality for Alexa?

Thx!

You cannot use Alexa without connectivity to the Internet. Almost all of the processing Alexa does is on Amazon’s cloud servers. If you don’t want your OH to connect to myopenhab.org you also don’t want it to work with Alexa.

The interactions between Alexa and openHAB is “cloud to cloud” meaning that myopenhab.org is required to use Alexa.

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Maybe I have overlooked something. I do not use myopenhab.org but I do have several Alexa’s which of course interact with the internet. I integrate them through the the Hue emulation https://www.openhab.org/addons/integrations/hueemulation/#features
with the correct tagging discovery is easy and works very well for what I need.
Thus far I was under the believe that I did not expose my openhab to the internet (but I will gladly learn if this assumption has been wrong).

I was primarily referring to the Alexa Skill. I’m not sure how Hue Emulation works but it doesn’t mention anything about needing the Cloud Connector so perhaps with that approach OH is not directly exposed to through myopenhab.org (NOTE: using myopenhab.org does not expose your OH to the Internet at large. There is an encrypted and authenticated tunnel set up between your OH server and the myopenhab.org servers.)

Alexa itself however most definitely depends on the Amazon cloud servers though.

I thought with the HUE Emulation Skill only HUE devices can be controlled, isn’t it right?

The Hue emulation essentially pretends to be a hue bridge enabling other devices to interact as if it were a hue device. So, with the hue emulation, OH presents itself to Alexa just like a hue bridge does.

With the HUE emulation you can control items with alexa of type Switch and Dimmer.

For example I use an item of type Dimmer for controlling the volume of my loudspeaker through Alexa without having openhab cloud binding installed.

Thx for all your answers. As I said I like the OpenHab Alexa Skill, but I’m struggling with the OpenHab Cloud, if someone gets my login credentials it’s possible to control everything via the dashboard, and there is no chance to control the login activities.

Hope you understand what I mean…

True, but how would someone obtain these? As Rick said, there is an encrypted tunnel to the OH cloud. I am VERY weary of clouds and privacy. The OH cloud is the only one I fully trust.

Since you use hue emulation, may I suggest you unplug your internet modem and see if Alexa still works with openHAB. If it does then disable the myopenhab.

I’m not sure that would work because it is my understanding that the voice recognition processing actually takes place on Amazon’s servers. So without internet for your Alexa it won’t be able to recognize your spoken commands.

I do computer security type stuff for a living and when I see statements like this I question the risk assessment.

OK yes, in the unlikely event that someone gets your login and password they can access your OH dashboard. That is a remote risk but not zero. The why do you find it acceptable to have a device that is constantly listening to everything you say within 30 feet of it’s many microphones? All of that audio is being transferred to Amazon’s servers (OK, not all, only the audio spoken after the wake words).

For one article that discusses the concerns:

So really, IMHO, if you are OK with using a voice assistant like this, being afraid that someone might get your username and password for myopenhab.org is somewhat misplaced. At least be consistently paranoid. :wink: And I’m not saying you are wrong to be paranoid. What I am saying is if you are worried about myopenhab.org, you should be as worried or even more so of Alexa.

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@rlkoshak I was thinking Alexa needs cloud even if you use hue emulations. I was hoping the op might conduct the experiment to prove or disprove this. :slight_smile:

Alexa obviously needs internet to process the voice data into an actual command, but it is my understanding that with a Hue hub (or Hue emulation) the Echo device will communicate directly to the Hue hub/emulator on the local network. This is why I have chosen to use Hue emulation in my setup because i’ve found in the past that using the official skill & myopenhab tended to add delays (in some cases several seconds) between command given and actual execution where with Hue emulation it is almost instant.

Right, question the risk assessment is what I am doing here. In my opinion a two factor autentification is recommended, before I am starting with hosting data into a cloud system

But you are exposing even more data through the Alexa. I guess my main point is if you are worried about nyopenhab.org you probably shouldn’t be using Alexa.

Just to make up my mind, I am confused.

I have bought an Amazon Echo Dot, and I am not sure yet how to setup because I have read there are two ways ¿? Amazon Echo binding and Amazon Alexa Skill. I can find Amazon Echo Dor binding in PAPER UI but not Amazon Alexa skill.

So, After installing Amazon Echo Dot, how I start to setup OH2? with Amazon Echo Dot?

Thank you.

https://docs.openhab.org/addons/bindings/amazonechocontrol/readme.html
https://docs.openhab.org/addons/ios/alexa-skill/readme.html

hi Juan,

it depends what you’re wanting to do with your Alexa & openHAB.

For switching a light on & off, you can install the Hue Emulation binding (in the ‘misc’ section of Add-Ons in PaperUI), and then tag the OH light item with [ “Switchable” ] (with the ‘channel’ part being correct for your light)

Switch		Echo_Office_Light		"Office Light" 			<light>		(gVoice)	[ "Switchable" ] { channel="wemo:MZ100:Bridge-1_0-231503B123456:94103EF6BF123456:state" }			

Go to configuration -> services > IO -> Hue Emulation in PaperUI and set it to ‘Pairing Enabled’, otherwise Alexa can’t see your tagged devices.

Then say “alexa discover devices” and it should find devices with [ “Switchable” ] in the item line.

And then say “alexa turn office light on” (and off), and it should work.

I hope that helps. :slight_smile:

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ok. Well, right now I only want Alexa for turn ON/OFF swithces, nothing else.

So the others bindings are dedicated for more complex controlling, right?
thank you.

The hue emulation is used to control openHAB with Alexa.

The Alexa binding is used to control Alexa with openHAB.

So, if you want to talk to openHAB, you need the hue emulation. If you want to automate Alexa, you need the binding.

hi Juan,

that’s correct, use the Hue Emulation binding to use Alexa as a simple voice switch.