New £10m Fines To Ensure Smart Home Devices Are Secure

secure Smartwatch Photo courtesy of Smartpixel.netThe British government are showing how seriously they are taking smart home security by introducing laws to protect consumers from poor smart products.

With many generic manufacturers using apps which are vulnerable to hacking or scanning and Black Friday deals which see some less scrupulous retailers attempt to sell off old tech which has a very limited period of ongoing software support, (as well as offering “deals” on goods which have been the same price for weeks prior to the sales) the government is putting responsibility for basic security protocols onto shops and makers by ensuring that insecure devices are not put up for sale.

Manufacturers, importers and retailers will face fines of up to £10m if they fail to comply with the requirements. While that seems like a huge fine for what is to many simply a software issue, it demonstrates how seriously security for consumers is being taken. It also reflects the size of the market in smart home devices, as only a fine this size can act as a deterrent for businesses who continue to make or sell substandard home automation. Read more

How Changing Broadband Providers Always Gets You A Better Deal*

broadband speed, ISP, internet service provider, wireless data, fibre broadbandThe benefits of switching broadband provider, energy, and phone company can’t be overstated. Many suppliers offer outstanding deals with new contracts, but have standard contracts which are so bad they almost appear to penalise customer loyalty. You don’t get discounts which are available to new sign-ups, the customer service you receive is often rubbish, and in the case of broadband customers, despite paying more than newer customers you’re stuck with an old router which was never top of the line in the first place, meaning that you simply aren’t getting the speeds new customers do.

Shopping around means that you’ve putting yourself in line for those great deals. Many broadband providers depend on complacency and laziness among the majority of their customers. If it’s too much of a faff to shop around for a better deal, and when you find one, it’s difficult to get out of your contract, or migrating over means losing your phone number unless you pay a fee, then you’re likely to stay with them despite a better deal being within reach.

But if you’re out of your minimum contract period and you’re just paying a rolling fee to keep getting data, why not see what other deals are out there? Better prices, brand new hardware and better customer service are all ripe for the picking! Read more

Briant Broadband’s Quick To Understand Internet Jargon Buster

internet, broadband, data, computer, Just as with any industry, we internet service providers are prone to using jargon which we understand perfectly, but most of our customers wouldn’t. So if you find yourself staring blankly while people talk about their ISPs, Mbps, and FTTPs this glossary should help you make sense of what is going on, and also help you make better, more informed decisions the next time you’re shopping for a new internet data package.

Broadband: It may seem obvious, or it may not, but broadband just means a lot of data which is always available. You may remember when we used to have to use dial-up modems to access the internet. It was painfully slow and inconvenient since it would mean that the phone line was tied up the entire time you were on the net. Broadband means being able to instantly access the internet without interruption or inconvenience.

Cookies: By now everyone’s heard of cookies, but many still don’t know what they are or what they do. Cookies are little bits of data which you load onto your computer when you visit a site. They can handle a number of different processes which you’d find annoying if they didn’t. Cookies help websites remember who you are, so, for example, if you use Facebook from the same computer you don’t have to log in again every time you visit. Cookies also keep a record of things you’ve shopped for, which is why you’ll often keep seeing adverts for things you may have already purchased. Read more

Can You Make Your Kitchen ‘Smart’ Without Brand New Appliances?

Modern white kitchen with white marble counter top and pendant lighting.Smart devices around the home are a boon, of course, but they can be especially helpful in the kitchen. The oven that already knows how to cook the perfect chicken, the fridge which you can peer into to see if you need milk while you’re actually in the dairy section of the supermarket, and the bin which updates your shopping list when you throw packaging into the recycling certainly make keeping ahead of the housekeeping easy.

But can you do it without investing in brand new white goods?

If you’re refitting your kitchen with a raft of new appliances it is certainly tempting to buy those which have all the Smart Tech available already installed: Fridges with built in cameras, ovens which are programmed to know the cooking times of all your favourite meals, along with cameras and sensors which know when your roast has reached the perfect shade of brown, even bins with barcode readers which can order grocery deliveries for you because it knows you through your rubbish.

But what if your budget doesn’t stretch that far? Or you want to Smarten up your kitchen, only you don’t want to junk all your old appliances just yet? Can you get the same usability without buying the latest goods? Read more

Your Smart Home Checklist For Leaving Your Home Alone

Hikvision security camera mounted on a brick wall next to a drainage pipe.Many of us were stuck at home last year, unable to do the usual rounds of Christmas visits to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. This year it looks like we’ll be able to make those trips again, but who’s going to look after the house while we’re away?

The appeal of Smart Home technology to most people is the convenience it offers to people as they potter around the house. Mundane tasks can be done by voice command or set on a schedule which can be set via an app on a phone. Thing is, those tasks can be just as easily taken care of if you’re away from home too.

The first thing people think about when leaving the house for a few days is whether they should leave the lights on or the curtains closed. Putting a table lamp on a timer isn’t fooling anyone any more! Instead you can use your home automation technology to turn lights on and off throughout the house, turn on a radio or TV and turn it off again as part of a routine that makes it look to anyone outside the house like the family are going to bed. It’s far from the perfect security solution, but if it keeps burglars guessing while you’re away for a few days, it could make a real difference.

Give The Impression Someone’s Home

Other signs of human activity which keep intruders on their toes is automated blinds and curtains. Anything that makes it look as if there is someone at home will help them move along, and curtains which are either shut all day or open all night are a sign that nobody’s home. Read more

Buying Tech Presents Early During The Black Friday Sales

wireless, smart home, home automation, smart speaker,We, like you hate the encroachment of Christmas into months where it doesn’t belong. Yule is at the far end of December, and if it’s to remain special, that’s where it should stay. Mince pies becoming part of Halloween fare indeed! BUT… But with the supply chain problems that many retailers are currently experiencing, for whatever reason, it may be worth getting a few of the presents which are going to be most in demand early, rather than trusting Santa to deliver a little Christmas magic nearer the time.

So how do you decide which presents it’s worth buying now, and which to leave until Christmas Eve when you can rush around the High Street in a blind panic? (You know who you are!)

On the one hand shopping for kids is pretty easy. They like toys and sweets. They don’t like clothes, books, or educational games. To find out what your, or any child wants for that matter, just watch an hour of kids’ TV with them. You’ll be subject to so many ads and characters from favourite TV shows that you’ll find that you want them as badly as the young ‘uns do!

But buying for a discerning teen or young adult is a trickier proposition. I bet secretly they’d love some Octonauts or Alphablocks merch, but not from you, that just wouldn’t be cool! Instead they’re going to want something beautiful, or practical tech. Both if you can find it. Read more

World’s Great and Good Victims of Cyber Security Data Heist

Information is rapidly becoming one of the most valuable assets we have. Businesses, governments and criminals all seem to be keen to get their hands on our data, either to find out what we think, influence what we think or not really caring what we think, so long as they can use the information they have about us to fleece us out of our savings.

The more we find out about Facebook the more it makes us wonder how safe we are online. When an innocuous site which is meant to let us keep in touch with our friends and family is accused of being instrumental in spreading hate speech, fake news and propaganda, and are giving as much as 5 times more value to Angry reactions than Likes, Loves or Care reactions, meaning that other users and group members are much more likely to see posts that cause fury than they are to see those that are touching or simply agreed with.

But this isn’t a blog about the ongoing tribulations that Facebook, aka Meta is currently experiencing. Rather this is a blog about data being taken and used as a hostage to blackmail retailers who depend on discretion to attract their customers. Read more