Increase Both Speed And Security When You Buy A New Router

Yellow ethernet cables plugged into the back of networking hardware.We’ve been concentrating on how adding new digital devices to your home network has the potential of introducing vulnerabilities into your home network, both for data security and the physical security of your property. However, it’s also worth looking at some of the older equipment that has to go from providing broadband to a couple of computers and phones to supplying data to dozens of different devices, all trying to talk to one another at the same time.

Your home router is essentially the brain and beating heart of your system, an yet it’s quite possible that you’ve not even looked at it since you last changed your internet provider. It’s true, as far as digital technology is concerned, a small box that just sits there with one or two flickering lights is hardly the most exciting piece of equipment, and it only draws attention when it stops working or you need to find it for the sticker with the wireless password printed on it.

However, it’s an absolute waste of time and effort to go securing all your new digital devices with descriptive yet innocuous names and strong passwords when your router is more or less open to anyone passing with a phone or tablet.

There are many reasons why you might like to consider investing in a new router, some obvious, some not so much.

With any other service, nobody would expect to get the best bit of kit alongside it for free, and yet we’re usually willing to accept whichever router it is our ISP decides to ship when we sign up. Maybe we assume that a router is just a conduit for signal, or that it’s not possible to shop around for better routers. But neither of these two ideas is true.

In reality there is a great difference in the quality of products to choose from when buying a router. Features to consider would include speed. You may have incredible processing speed available, but if the router isn’t up to the job you’ll not receive what is possible. Next would be the strength of signal the new router can deliver. The free one you get might be strong enough to give wifi in the next room or upstairs from the room where it lives, but a premium unit will easily be able to give a strong signal throughout the house, without blind spots.

The biggest worry is personal data and financial details being accessed. Credential stuffing is a way of gaining access to a variety of accounts by invading one, and then using the details you have stored to replicate the attack on a variety of other accounts you may hold. Based on the assumption that most people only use one or two passwords to protect all of their online activity, simply gathering details on something as innocuous as your Spotify or YouTube (because who cares if someone hacks your music of video channels, right?) account could compromise your entire online and home security.

New routers also come with security firmware built in. The one your internet service provider gives you when you sign up is likely to be from older stock which doesn’t have sufficient security firmware which you would want when you’re connecting a broad range of IoT enabled devices. The software you get with a premium router will protect you from malware, spyware, trojan horse and viruses. This not only protects the information about yourself, your payment methods and credit details, but also prevents your devices from being hijacked and used in cyber-attacks. A lot of software is already available for you to download, but very few people ever consider the fact that their router could use a regular security audit too.

Don’t just clean off viruses, take care of the dirt too! You’ll be amazed at the amount of ‘heat stress’ dust and muck can cause to your computer equipment, and how much can collect over a relatively short space of time. When dust clogs the vents and coats the silicone chips and connections it all increases the temperature that the device operates at, and while you might not think a few degrees more or less will have much effect, it can have an appreciable effect not only on the speed your router processes data, but on the operating life too. Keep it clean and cool and you could add years to its usefulness.

Criminals have identified that people’s attention to security drops off a cliff when it comes to older devices. We introduce a new item, we secure it, take care to keep antivirus up to date until the next round of new devices comes along and we forget about legacy devices. However, if that legacy device is your router it affords the criminal the opportunity to use any holes, expired security, and default passwords which were never changed to access your system.

Your shipped product is unlikely to be tri-band too. Dual-band routers are standard and operate on a 5GHz and a 2.4GHz channel while tri-band routers use two 5GHz channels plus the 2.4GHz. While that just seems like a lot of GHz what it actually means is that because a router works as a simultaneous transmitter and receiver, having an additional channel means that it can send out twice as much 5GHz information without interruption and keeps all your devices running smoothly. This is particularly important when you’re living in a connected home where the Internet of Things rules. If you’re rolling on an ancient router which came free or you rent from the ISP as part of your subscription, it’s unlikely to be able to cope with the demand put upon it by possibly dozens of new devices all demanding space on your broadband.

While we’ve been talking about the wireless capability of your router, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are LAN and USB ports in the back of your router. The point of WiFi is that you don’t have cables stretching all over your home when you connect to the internet, but the terminals on the back of your router can be really handy. If you have devices which require uninterrupted, clear signal and the device, such as a Smart TV or desktop computer, won’t be moved it’s worth using a cable to connect them. Not only does that mean you’ll get the best data when you’re streaming or downloading, you’ll be freeing up wireless bandwidth for items which need to be cable free.

  • Pick a router with the best speed and strength of signal
  • Choose one which has Tri-band if you’re expecting to us a lot of connected devices
  • Make use of the cable terminals in the back of the machine
  • Ensure that it’s clean, both of malware and dust
  • Always change the name of your wifi network and apply strong, complex passwords to all the devices you connect

New Tech, New Frustrations! How To Get To Grips With Your Brand New Gadgets

Sonos music speaker and a tablet showing the artwork for an album.So it’s been a month, how are you getting on with the new electronic devices you got for Christmas? If you think you’re struggling and that you’re not getting as much out of your tech as possible, you’re not alone. More than a quarter of people surveyed said that they’re not sure how to use their electronics properly, and feel they are probably missing out.

The problem most of us have with electronics we’re not familiar with is that we use it in exactly the same way we used the piece of tech that it is replacing, and if we don’t get to grips with a new feature straight away, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get to know it. Attempts have been made in the past to teach new users how to improve their interface with the user, you’ll remember of course Microsoft’s paperclip, called, imaginatively enough “Clippy,” a dog called “Rover”, and a wizard called Merlin which would pop up whenever you wanted to do something, getting in the way and giving you flawed advice. Fortunately for all, that particular piece of fury-fuel was discontinued in 2007 after it was noticed that everybody hated it. Read more

The Modern Parent’s Guide To Screen Time For Kids

WiFi enabled tablet in persons handsNobody can deny that IT, interactive and Smart devices are going to play a huge part in our children’s lives, and many people have opinions on how the amount of screen time, that is time children spend using VDUs, smart phones, laptops and tablets is going to affect educational and physical development.

For generations there have been adults who are prepared to wax nonsensical about how whichever latest trend or technological development will slow the mind or adversely affect the physical development of the children and adults who are exposed to it. Not surprisingly the latest generation of nay-sayers have set their sights on touchscreens, voice control, and home automation. Read more

New To Alexa? What To Do With Your Smart Speaker Straight Out Of The Box

Over Christmas Briant Communications and Jacobs Steel, a local estate agent based in Worthing, teamed up to give away a Sonos Smart speaker to one of our Facebook followers. Jonathon won it and dropped by to collect it last week. While he was happy to have one, he quipped that he had no idea what to do with it.

And that’s a problem that a lot of emerging tech has to contend with. People fail to appreciate what brilliant things their gadgets can do and so never get the full benefit of owning such handy home devices. I’m sure we’ve all watched over a colleague’s shoulder as they struggle to do something on their computer or phone because they didn’t know there was an easy way. (Years ago I had a colleague who would copy email addresses for contact by hand and then type them into the address field because he didn’t know you could copy & paste.) There must be any number of things we all do every day that those in the know would find baffling or incredibly timewasting, so how do you get the most from your smart speaker straight out of the box? Read more

Cyber Security For Toys Isn’t Something To Play Around With

R2D2 Smart Enabled WiFi RobotElectronic devices are no new thing. And receiving the latest gadgets for Christmas is a joy since it’s always fun to see what new things they can do to improve your life. However, today there’s a snag. Many connected devices are ‘always on’ and listening for the wake word which lets them know you want them to do something. While what they detect while they await instructions is deleted every few seconds, there is always a chance that your smart devices are vulnerable if you leave the settings as you found them out of the box.

The new electronics you received will likely have cameras as well as mics, and you’ll likely be putting them in every room in the house. Meaning that both your security and privacy can be compromised. While you’re not doing anything wrong in your own home when you think nobody is watching, there’s no reason why you would want any of that data falling into the wrong hands. Read more

Smart Cooking Appliances Are Hotting Up! What’s In The Connected Kitchen For You?

smart kitchen wifi connectedWe know that Smart tech is going to find a really practical home in the kitchen. Find all your recipes, preheat the oven, re-order and do the shopping, turn the lights on so you can see what you’re doing. You can even recalculate measurements automatically if you’re low on one thing or want to make enough to feed an army when the recipe gives you the method for a tiny batch.

The only problem is mess.

With cake mix flying all over the place when you turn the mixer on, gravy dripping from your fingers and water getting everywhere when you try to clean up your tablet or Smart interface could easily get damaged, gummed up or dropped in the sink just when you’re trying to knock up a souffle.

No matter how hard you try not to touch, and you swear you’ll be careful, Murphy’s Law dictates that you’ll drop it, splash it, try to use the touchscreen controls with a spoon or otherwise do something that will in no way help to prolong the life of your devices. Read more

Need To Know Who’s Calling Before You Go To The Door? Talk To Us About Access Control

security door control access monitorHome security is a high priority for many of us today. Crime figures for burglary and vandalism are falling across the UK and many think that’s because of the security measures householders take to ward off intruders before they’re tempted to break in or damage our property. Naturally physical barriers are the bluntest tool to use in protecting our homes but a steel shutter over the front door doesn’t look very appealing. The next best thing to deter would-be thieves is a comprehensive security lighting and camera system which would rather more discreetly tell people to keep moving. However, some people still don’t find these to be subtle enough.

Nobody wants to live in a prison, and locking your home up like Fort Knox is no way to live. So what is the best way to keep an eye on your front door without making your visitors feel like they’re entering the Big Brother House when they drop by to call?

The access control that Briant Communications sell would appear to be the perfect solution. We supply and fit intercoms which look exactly like any other bell push, only ours come with a few extras as standard. So let’s compare and contrast. Read more

Making Your Alexa Family Friendly

If you have kids living with you you’ll no doubt want to set up your Alexa or Google Assistant to make it fun, exciting and most of all safe for children to use. From avoiding playing adult song lyrics and inappropriate content to preventing shopping for goods and services, there are a number of different security measures you can take to make your Smart home system child friendly. (We’ll be talking about Alexa, but all other Smart Home Hubs operate in a similar fashion.) 

First of all, make sure you have all your devices operating on the same account. Most of us have any number of different accounts with a variety of different service providers and it might seem like a good idea to segment your suppliers and accounts but with home automation this just makes things incredibly complicated, unnecessarily confusing and difficult to apply consistent security across all accounts. If you’re using Echo, create a dedicated Amazon account which you can use to manage and control all your apps, actions, recipes and skills. Having them all in one place will also mean that if any of your apps stop working you’ll know where to go to look for the updates and fixes. Having them all together on one Amazon account also means that all your connected devices should work together seamlessly without any need for special recipes or instructions. Read more

Out With The Old And In With The New

new flat screen television setDid Santa bring you everything you asked for?

If you were on the Good list you’ll have lots of sparkling new gadgets and durables ready to set up and start enjoying straight away. But there’s one drawback. All that new kit needs to find itself a new home, and if it’s replacing superannuated old stuff you’ll be wanting to get rid to make room.

Sending it straight to landfill would be a disgrace. If it still works there’s no need to burden the planet with it and it would be a shame to scrap something which could still bring happiness to others so what’s the best way of disposing of all your old items without environmental impact, and possibly making back a few pounds on the deal as well? Read more

Smart Ways Of Getting Fit For The New Year

Fitness image courtesy of www.maxpixel.net

Smart Home Technology is all about making your home more efficient, saving your time and effort. As a direct consequence of that you may find that it’s even easier to become that couch potato you’ve always felt was looming in your future. The solution becomes the problem, so how about using Smart tech to get you up and active, improving your fitness for the New Year?

The automated home is all about letting you find ways of controlling everything that happens around the home either remotely or by simply speaking and electronic devices obeying your commands. Unfortunately one thing the latest technology can’t do for you is get fit. For that you really do need to get up and active. But how can smart tech help you achieve that? Well, for a start they can make the experiment fun and interesting. The things that put people off of regular exercise are that it is that it is dull, unpleasant and doesn’t show immediate results. Some people are a natural fit for the gym because they love the endorphins which are released by working out, the rest of us are simply glad that it is over. But tech can help with that. Read more