Common Cyber Security Threats, And How To Protect Yourself

Image courtesy https://www.freeimages.com woman at computer, bills, phone banking, security, online security, secure payment, Naturally devices which are constantly connected to the internet and sending information to one-another and to you wherever you are in the world are going to be vulnerable to cyber attack. That’s not a surprise to anyone. What is a surprise though is how easy it is to use basic security measures to prevent, and more surprisingly yet, how people still get it wrong!

It’s perfectly natural to want to feel secure and relaxed in your own home, that’s what it’s there for after all. And it’s nice to have the convenience of labour saving devices around you which you can control without getting out of your chair, but what if those gadgets which do so much work for you could be put to work against you without your even knowing? What if they spied on you, collected your financial and personal information, let burglars know when you’d be at home and when you’d be out, and even let them unlock the doors to let themselves in?

Well, that’s all perfectly possible, but only if you DON’T follow the basic steps it takes to secure your Smart Home devices against hackers, scanners, and all other kinds of cyber intruders. Read more

Security Problems with Cheap Smart Doorbells Set Alarms Ringing

pic courtesy of Marjan Blan Instagram: @marjanblan, doorbell, broken doorbell, access control, Thinking of buying yourself a Smart Doorbell as a gift this Christmas? It’s a good idea, they’re rally handy devices to have, but beware of low quality products.

If you really want to treat yourself don’t scrimp and invest in the best quality goods you can afford. And that’s not just the advice coming from the marketing department! Surveys of good bought online from such retailers as eBay and Amazon discovered that many goods which are in the “affordable” end of the pool come with multiple security risks which could put your home and data in more danger than you ever would have had if you’d just stick to a good old fashioned Yale or mortis lock.

The devices which were reviewed weren’t just inferior products, they included goods which sent photos, usernames, passwords, GPS data and emails back to the manufacturer, all for no discernible reason. This is all data it’s necessary to input into the device for it to work properly, but you certainly don’t want it being shared unfiltered and unbeknownst to you with anyone.

Which? and NCC Group bought 11 video doorbells on the most popular sales platforms. Despite all looking very similar to one-another they were from a range of manufacturers, and all had prices which were remarkably competitive when compared to well known brands such as Amazon Ring or Nest on Google Home. Read more

The Most Easily Hacked Smart Devices, And How To Fix Their Security

We know that any incorrectly installed Smart Home devices are intrinsically prone to hacking. If you haven’t set up the security properly by only using default settings there’s a very good chance your device is going to be scanned and someone, somewhere, could use the weakness in your Smart Home environment to gain access to your home, steal personal data, or use your accounts to launch further DDoS attacks.

We also know that even making a minimal effort to protect your data and property by using unguessable names and strong, complex passwords will deter almost all attempts to attack your Smart Home devices. If you happen to own something of particular interest to the person who is keen to find out your access codes then they may try to probe deeper, but for the most part scans are carried out by bots testing default passwords against an array of devices in the hope that someone will have forgotten to secure them.

More Users, More Problems

The problem is that many Smart Home devices are designed to have more than one user, but not to have sporadic temporary users. And that can be a problem. Some people need or demand access to devices they don’t understand or refuse to learn how they work. This means that they get things wrong, change things which shouldn’t have been touched, which often it means having to change everything or revert to default to fix what they messed up. Do this too many times and it becomes frustrating for all the other users to get locked out all the time, so defaults become the standard that everybody uses again.

Devices such as Smart doorbells, smoke/fire detectors, thermostats and lights all require you to let everybody in the house, and an unquantifiable number of guest users to be able to access the settings, depending who lives with you and who you have visiting your home. You, your partner and your kids might be just fine getting along with all those devices just as they are, but your sister’s idiot boyfriend who burns the toast on Christmas morning, sets off the smoke alarm and panics, mashing the display panel and changing a slew of settings in his attempt to silence it is always going to be a loose cannon on deck. Read more

How Likely Is It Your Smart Home Will Be Attacked By Hackers?

smart home, iot, hacking, connected devices, automation, automated homeDon’t imagine that it’s only the unlucky few who get caught out by hackers penetrating their Smart Home Automation security protocols. Rather than being a rare occurrence, hacking is a huge and ongoing problem, especially for anyone who relies on default settings to keep them safe.

Consumer magazine Which? installed a number of Smart Home devices, enough to adequately reflect those of a well equipped home, and found that in a week they had more than 10,000 scans or hacking attempts made. While scans aren’t necessarily malicious, they just look to see what products are being used where, there were more than 2,435 specific hacking attempts, which adds up to 14 attempts by a hacker to force their way in to (what they believed to be) someone’s Home Automation Environment every hour for an entire week.

Revealing Discoveries

During the trial it was found that an Epson printer and an ieGeek security camera were most often targeted by hackers. The attempts at the printer prove that it’s not always the most obvious devices which get the most attention, but those which are the least likely to be properly passworded because they’re innocuous and need to be available to the whole family. While the printer’s default password did stand up to the hacking, the camera did less well and someone was able to take control of it, giving them access to the images and allowing them to change settings. (the ieGeek camera tested has now been withdrawn from sale by Amazon following Which?’s investigation. Amazon had championed it as their Amazon Choice after more than 68% of its reviews were five star on their platform.) Amazon representatives said “We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.” Read more

Bolster Your Home Security Before Lockdown Ends

burglar alarms, cctv systemsWith the vaccine roll-out forging ahead apace we are all gladdened to see light at the end of the tunnel and a return to life as normal. We as a society haven’t seen anything like this for at least a century and now we’re looking forward to enjoying getting back to work, shopping, socialising, holidays and trips to see family here and abroad.

Unfortunately that “return to normal” will apply to intruders and miscreants as well. Lockdown has meant that we’re all at home all the time, so the opportunities burglars thrive upon haven’t been available to them. In ‘normal’ times crime figures prove to be counter-intuitive to received wisdom. The common notion is that burglars break in at night, targeting rich households with jewellery and antiques which can be sold on the black market. Read more

From Fish Tanks To Vacuums, Smart Devices Need Smarter Security

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/@kabita-darlami-2613403Because Briant Communications staff are proud to call ourselves “professional installers” it is infuriating when we see people on the news who’ve been made victims of crime because of a substandard installation. If you follow our blog you’ll have read about how we recommend applying rigorously high security protocols for all of your Internet of Things connected devices because default settings and lax passwords create a chink in your armour, so it’s frustrating when we hear stories such as the following.

Something Fishy Going On With This Casino’s Security

Not long ago a casino was hacked and the personal information contained in a database of clients’ details was stolen by criminals who gained access to the business’ computer network via a Smart fish tank thermometer. Darktrace’s Nicole Eagan reported that:
The attackers used that to get a foothold in the network. they then found the high-roller database and then pulled that back across the network, out the thermostat, and up to the cloud.” Read more

Why Lockdown Is The Perfect Time To Tackle Home Security

home securitySomething which has come out of the repeated lockdowns and tiers being introduced has been an overall fall in the rate of crime. With people being unable to leave their homes then the opportunity for burglars to break in has been almost eliminated, and any criminals who are out on the streets stand out like a sore thumb since everybody else is shielding themselves indoors.

So what should we expect to see when the all clear is sounded and we an return to life as normal? Will we see a jump in crime as thieves are released from self imposed imprisonment en masse? Or will we notice little change as people have learned to cope with privation, lack of stimulation and an overall sense of ‘looking out for one another’ has replaced the urge for instant gratification?

We would certainly hope that it’s the latter, but experience tells us it will be the former. The Covid denialism, lockdown scepticism, and refusal on the part of a significant and vocal minority of people to wear masks in public, and to demonstrate for those beliefs in large crowds on the streets of cities all over the country shows that there are many people who can’t or won’t take the opportunity to see things from the point of view of others.

Read more

The Origin Of Home Security Systems

Marie Van Brittan Brown, home security system, security, Did you know that the first home security system was invented by a nurse way back in 1966?
Marie Van Brittan Brown was a nurse in Queens, NYC, consequently she worked irregular hours in an area which, at the time was a target for crime. However, despite having a high crime rate the police couldn’t always be relied upon and the first 911 emergency switchboard wasn’t introduced to the United States until 1968, and it was in Alabama, not much use to a lady in New York! If you had an emergency first you had to find a phone, since not many homes had their own telephones installed back then, find the number for the local police station, and call up and ask for assistance. (It’s worth noting that the UK had its own emergency number, 999, from the 1930s.)

Mrs Van Brittan Brown started off by drilling three holes in her front door, one for tall people, one for average height people, and the last so she could see kids. Rather than go to the door every time someone knocked, she decided that it would be more efficient if she could use a camera hooked up to a wireless monitor to see who was at the door in case it wasn’t anyone she wanted to open the door to anyway, and so the wireless security camera was invented! Mrs Van Brittan Brown’s husband Albert was an electronics engineer, so it wasn’t hard for them to develop the concept further by adding a microphone and speaker together with an electronic device which could release the latch and allow people in simply by using a remote control. Read more

local broadband, fast broadband, Worthing broadband

Stand And Delivery! Security Issues With Ordering Online

local broadband, fast broadband, Worthing broadbandData breaches sound like something you only have to worry about if you’re in charge of a bank or looking after the details of high value, high security information that you don’t want business competitors or foreign governments to find out about. Unfortunately information security is far more mundane and something that all of us who are shopping online and ordering deliveries during lockdown need to think about.

Millions of usernames and passwords are currently for sale on the dark web. Cheap ones haven’t been verified or tested so the buyer takes pot luck, but expensive high quality data is available to fraudsters, and sometime it even comes with money back guarantees if you, as a scammer, aren’t completely satisfied.

Because it’s quick and easy to order from Deliveroo, McDonalds or JustEat, and the orders are low value not much thought has gone into security, either on their part or by the people making the order. A recipe for disaster. Read more

Image courtesy of https://www.freeimages.com/photo/working-woman-1440176

Online Fraud: My Experience of Beating Internet Scammers

Image courtesy of https://www.freeimages.com/photo/working-woman-1440176I like to think of myself as an intelligent guy who can spot phishing and fraudulent attempts to scam me into handing over my personal information, and for the most part I’m successful. I get so many calls from scammers using private numbers or from places with area codes I’m not familiar with that I know what’s going to happen as soon as I pick up: either the line goes dead or I’m told by a robot that my Amazon Prime account is going to be renewed, that I was involved in a car accident which wasn’t my fault, or that BT Internet has discovered my neighbours are stealing my data and I need take action immediately to stop them.

Just for fun, since it costs me nothing and I’m interested to see how the scam works I go along with it. The scams are so incredibly obvious it’s astonishing they can work, yet some poor, overly trusting marks must fall for it, else they wouldn’t keep using the same old methods.

The Amazon fraud works by telling you that you’re going to be charged for something you don’t want. So naturally you talk to the ‘customer service representative’ and press 1 to fix it. They tell you to go to a website which is hosted on Wix, a perfectly respectable web hosting business which is in no way connected to the scam. The problem with the fraud is that the scammers are too cheap to even pay for hosting so the website they use has a .wix suffix and has adverts for their other premium services popping up during your visit. Not something you’d expect from a multi-billion dollar company such as Amazon. The rep tells you to click on a link, except the link is a download for software which is sure to damage your computer and give up your details. I don’t know what is supposed to happen next as I gave up my pretence of credulity and told them off for having such a pathetically obvious scam, and that I would be ashamed if I was to try anything so amateurish. Read more