Smart Doorbell Owner Receives Fine For Neglecting GDPR

ring, ring smart doorbell, smart doorbell, access controlMost of us either get on with, or are completely oblivious to our neighbours. When we get home after a hard day’s work we’re not really interested in hearing from the people next-door’s kids or from the student flat across the street at half past two on a Sunday morning.

 

Most of us like a quiet life where we live in mutual, amicable ignorance of our neighbours. We say ‘hi!’ or nod in recognition and go on about our day. So keen on avoiding any kind of friction are we that we make accommodations for our neighbours, because letting things slide is SO much easier than the awkwardness and potential for embarrassment that confronting them over their inconsiderate behaviour presents.

However, this week a county court had to decide in the case of a neighbour who’s Ring Smart doorbells overlooked a neighbour’s property. And because he wasn’t neighbourly, he now faces a maximum fine of up to £100,000.

He probably won’t have to pay that much, but there are other things he should have done before it ever got to the county court. (The fact that it was a county court means that no legal precedent has been set, so if you own a Ring doorbell you won’t need to be hiring a solicitor just yet!)

The case revolved around an audio-visual technician in Oxfordshire who installed Ring Smart doorbells and some dummies as he wanted to deter thieves from returning to his property after it was broken into. He set one to watch from the front door, covering the street and the approach to his house. Others were pointed at a shared parking space, the drive leading to that car park and a portion of his neighbour’s property, including a window. The neighbour who brought the case brought it on the grounds of harassment, nuisance and breeching data protection legislation. And it was mostly on not fulfilling his obligations as the data controller that the defendant lost his case. Read more

Starting Out With Smart Home Tech? A Smart Plug Is Your Easiest In

smart plugOne of the handiest and easiest Smart Home devices to set up is the Smart Plug. Because it’s either off, or on, it’s easy to get to grips with and will allow you to familiarise yourself with the principles of how Smart devices work. This week you’ll be connecting your smart plug, next week you’ll be securely installing and enjoying a complete Smart Home environment!

They’re handy because they allow you to control all the little devices you have around your home which wouldn’t normally be smart or be controlled remotely. So if you have floor lamps, desk fans, electric heaters, or a radio or TV which you’ve had for years but don’t need to be replaced, you can at least make them on-and-offable via a phone app, smart speaker, or home hub.

Each Smart Plug manufacturer is different, but the idea behind the settings on your new Smart Device remain the same, so if your device isn’t exactly the same, you should be able to figure out how to get the same results from your device notwithstanding.

Step 1, Download The Smart Plug App

First of all, it needs something to connect to, so download the plug’s user app to your phone or use a universal app which can detect and control any number of different Smart Home devices. Once you’ve got the software choose ‘add a new device’ from the menu and you’ll be offered a range of different items which can connect via the app, all other devices that the manufacturer makes. Choose the Smart plug and then plug the plug into the wall. The plug will tell you, usually via a blinking LED that it is in pairing mode. The app on the phone should detect this as well and you can now connect them. Once the smart plug is connected to the app you will be asked to give a name to the device. Don’t call it ‘Smart Plug’ but instead call it the object you want to control, and remember whenever you unplug the device, unplug the Smart plug to, or things will get VERY confusing! (You’ll likely have to pair your Smart Plug to your app each time you remove it from the socket, so best to decide where you want everything to stay before you start installing a raft of new Smart Plugs!) Read more

Looking For a Luxury Lifestyle? Try Living In A Smart Home!

Touch sensitive digital heating control panel mounted on a light coloured wall.Smart Home Technology offers a level of convenience and control which most home-owners haven’t seen for over a hundred years, when it was common for the affluent to have housemaids and servants living in the house. Instead of having people hovering around waiting for your commands, now we have technology such as Smart Speakers, Home Hubs and a slew of other devices which can all be controlled from a central station or an app on your phone or computer.

But at what cost? All that convenience which is afforded by connectivity comes at a price. If privacy is a big deal to you then the thought of having devices which have been shown to use recordings of consumers without their permission always listening is anathema. If you shop regularly online, or pay bills over the phone, as many more of us are doing all the time, then the thought that your data or conversations could be stored and shared, revealing your financials and personal information would put you off of investing in any kind of Smart device. Read more

Switching Broadband Providers Is Going To Get Much Easier

image courtesy of https://unsplash.com/@magellol - broadband, changing providers, switch, digital switch, isp, wisp, As with many services, such as your bank, energy or water supplier, the rigmarole, hassle and mistakes which can occur when switching are often the most common reasons people give for not wanting to switch. That is true for broadband data too, or at least it will be until April 2023 when Ofcom introduce the “One Touch Switch” (OTS) service for broadband consumers. OTS, which is currently modelled on the template available to landline phone users takes all of the bother out of the process of switching from one ISP to another, so it will certainly be welcomed by digital data users looking for a better deal.

Currently it’s necessary to deal with both your new and old internet service provider, you’ll be setting up one account and making sure there is as little overlap as you leave your old provider, while also making sure there is no service gap between leaving one and starting with the next either.

Instead the OTS system means that all you will have to do is contact the company you want to have a new contract with and they will arrange the rest.

Depending on which service you want to take up, switching can currently be very easy, provided you are moving from a like to like service with the same infrastructure. Problems arise though when you want to switch to a company which is on a different physical network from the one you’re currently on. As a broadband data provider we, and Ofcom, feel that switching should be as easy and transparent for you the consumer as possible. You don’t care about infrastructure interface, Code Powers, or Physical Infrastructure Access, you just want to get better broadband as quickly as possible. It’s our job to care about that, and then to get you the fastest broadband data as quickly and efficiently as possible. Read more

Get More From Your Broadband Data, Even With Data Hungry Visitors

local broadband, fast broadband, Worthing broadbandA simple way to protect many of your Smart Home devices is to attach them to a guest network rather than the Wi-Fi network you use your broadband to connect with the internet. It’s more secure to connect your smart devices in this way as they are less vulnerable to hacking or scanning, where an outsider looks at the online devices, and scans them for usernames and passwords which haven’t been properly secured. They’re not absolutely invulnerable, but keeping them off of the network which you use to connect your computer to the internet reduces the risks of them being easily accessed.

There are plenty of other very good reasons to set up a guest network on your router as well. For guests, for example.

Make Your Broadband Easy To Use, For The Right People

When you have visitors who all want to connect their phones or laptops to the internet the easiest thing is to make your network password free. Clearly a terrible idea! Instead, the wisest and best thing would be to create a guest network that they can connect to instead of the one you use to connect to the internet. They can connect using a basic password which is easy to remember, and in no way similar to the long, complex passwords you use for your own devices. Making the password easy to remember means that you won’t have to keep re-sending it or resetting it because someone is always forgetting it. Another feature of a guest network is that it prevents those on it from accessing shared folders, printers, and any wireless storage devices which you keep on your regular Wi-Fi network. What that means is that you can keep on doing all your usual stuff on your ‘Home’ network without having to worry about people who’ve access to the ‘Guest’ network seeing anything they shouldn’t. A guest network means you’re able to do that without having to go about changing and adding additional security to all your personal stuff. Read more

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

Teaching your Nest Smart Doorbell to Send the Notifications You Need

NEst Smart Doorbell, Battery Powered, Smart Access control, smart home, home automationSave on unwanted alerts, save on battery life, save on stored footage by tweaking your Google Home Nest Battery Doorbell

The great thing about a Smart doorbell is that you can be anywhere and still see who’s coming to the door. So if you’re having a lie-in when relatives call by unannounced you can choose whether to answer the door, or talk to them via the built in speaker instead. Similarly, if you’re in the garden, or otherwise engaged when a delivery comes you will know there’s someone at the door and ask them to hang on for just one minute before the go on to the next house!

The Nest Smart Doorbell also offers motion detection which is great, but if you live somewhere with a busy pavement, or you have an active family who are always coming and going then the constant alerts to people passing will get a little bit irritating. So what to do?

Nest, The Smarter Smart Doorbell

The Nest smart doorbell has more adaptability than many other Smart Doorbells on the market, including other Nest wired products. However, they are features you may not even need if you just want something which is plug-and-play.

First of all you need to put your Nest doorbell somewhere near the door where it can be clearly seen by visitors, and where it will have a clear view of people approaching your front door. Sync it with your Google Home app and you can now get notifications on your phone, tablet, or computer whenever anyone is outside your home. The device also records and stores up to three hours of footage which you can look back over when you need to verify if someone did or didn’t visit.

The doorbell has a very wide field of view, meaning that it’s hard to creep by it without being seen, and also offers facial recognition so you know whether a car, person or pet has triggered the motion detection. And this is the technology which also makes the Nest so much more adaptable than other smart doorbells on the market. If you have a neighbour’s dog which is constantly digging up your lawn, you want to know when the little pest is up to no good! Alternatively you may not care about dogs passing your home, but you do need to know when people are present, or when a delivery has been dropped off and is waiting for you. Read more

Staying Connected While Enjoying The Great British Outdoors

outdoor wireless, internet extender, digital extender, wireless extenderLast week we looked at setting up a temporary home cinema in your garden. But what if you want to extend your Wi-Fi internet into the garden as well. You might want to do this for any number of reasons, and not just so you can work on your tan and stream live feeds from Love Island, the Olympics and the Big Brother house at the same time!

No matter how good your router is, or where you put it, there’s very little chance that you will be able to get good enough reception from it to your phone, tablet or laptop once you go more than a few metres outside. If you’re going to use the internet outdoors you need to think about proper solutions instead of making the best of a technology which wasn’t designed for the purpose to which you’re putting it. However, once you do get Wi-Fi internet in the garden it opens up a great deal of new opportunities which you may not have thought about before.

Taking your Wi-Fi internet outdoors doesn’t only mean that you can watch TV on a mobile device without eating up all of your contract’s data allowance. It means you can convert an outbuilding into a home office or connected workshop, handy if you’re working off plans you need to download or 3D models you need to look at as you’re working. It also means that you’re able to secure these buildings far more easily and effectively than might have been possible before. Security cameras, sensors and alarms which operate wirelessly over Wi-Fi can be located anywhere if you’ve got enough bandwidth in the garden, so you can keep an eye on outbuildings, barns, gates, fences and reverse angles of your home itself instead of being limited to where you can put those devices by the distance you can install a cable.

If you’re interested in taking Wi-Fi outside there are a number of options depending on how you intend to use the internet once it’s out there. Read more