I was looking through Facebook and a question arose in one of the groups we follow here at Briant Communications: “So, does CCTV deter burglars, or just make them think you must have expensive stuff?” but because it’s a sensible, helpful group and not full of sarcastic, unhelpful know-it-alls, many of the answers were quite enlightening.
A lot of people have taken up the use of CCTV to protect their property and businesses from intruders and thieves and have first hand experience of the benefits that can be had from simply keeping a 24 hour eye on your home.
Naturally there are some who elaborate upon apocryphal, anecdotal stories of gangs of burglars breaking into garages with angle grinders and look-outs armed with baseball bats guarding the thieves and keeping the homeowners at bay as they steal high performance motorcycles from the property. However, many commenters make remarkably salient points. Read more
I 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
Amazon’s Ring Smart Doorbells and access control have been under scrutiny over the past couple of months because of lapses in security. Most customers have nothing to worry about thanks to several factors, including the scarcity of people with the expertise to be able to bypass the security settings which are in place if customers follow the installation instructions carefully.
However, if you buy a Ring doorbell and don’t update and personalise the security features it’s not very difficult for anyone with a mobile phone to be able to breech your home security systems. As Smart devices, including home security and monitoring become ever more popular it’s natural that the number of devices which are installed poorly or not personalised at all is going to increase. Such an increase makes it possible for the wannabee hacker to travel around looking for systems worth infiltrating and exploiting.
Controlling Who Can Go Where
You can give access to your Ring account to a number of different people who will them be able to talk to visitors, let people in, and watch in real time as people move about from their phones or tablets. It makes more sense to add users from an admin than give log in details to others, so for example if you have friends or family come to stay, or you want to give people staying at your house via AirBnB access, you can add them or remove them without having to pass on any log-in details. Read more
If you got an Alexa for Christmas you’ve been living with her for a month now. How’s that going for you? Many people will be getting used to having her around and thinking about what else she can do. As a stand-alone device she can be a lot of fun, but her real benefits only come when she is synchronised to the rest of your Smart devices.
It’s easy to choose the smart tech which will work with Alexa, because the answer is basically anything! If it’s an Amazon or Echo product it will work with Alexa with the minimum of fuss. Then there are all the third party products which Amazon has given licenses to. Manufacturers have recognised that if their product is going to sell then it’s necessary to make it compatible with the leading Smart home interface, which is essentially Alexa. Google Home is right along side Amazon with market penetration, so it’s handy that these two major players are working together to create a ubiquitous format which will support all devices.
But now that you don’t have to worry about whether your new investment will work with others, which are the top choices of nick-nacks which will bring joy and ease of function to your life?
Why not check out these top ten purchases to begin with, and see where the Smart home revolution takes you?
Surveillance cameras along with home and business CCTV have been with us for years but it’s only now that wireless data in the home has become ubiquitous enough for everyone who has a wireless router to be able to take advantage of Smart home and office security technology.
They’re a low cost, low barrier to entry security system, and are recognised widely by users, police and insurance companies as one of the best deterrents to burglars, vandals and housebreakers.
They work as a deterrent only when people know they’re there though. If nobody knows they are there the burglar will still break in, they’ll simply get a big surprise when their picture is known to the police and splashed around in the local papers.
Another drawback many cameras have is that at night they’re not always that effective. In poor light lower quality cameras struggle to create the best picture quality and even if they provide excellent quality images at night, if they can’t be seen, they’re not going to work as a deterrent and because their mere presence won’t put the unwitting intruder off. Read more
Technology and the way we organise our lives around it is rapidly changing, and not always for the better. There has been a great deal of controversy about how social media and online data has influenced recent elections in the UK & the US as unaccountable agents have poured money into advertising and ‘fake news’, targeted undecided voters, and used data captured from unwitting citizens who’ve done nothing more than like or share a post they’ve seen.
Data is big business. It can be used to affect elections, to help decide where public money is spent, when to buy and sell assets, and it can also be used to get access to your home.
Shortly before Christmas Ring was dealing with a controversial data breach when it was shown that if customers don’t take the initiative to change their passwords and security settings it was relatively simple for people to access home cameras in order to see into children’s bedrooms and talk to the occupants. And while it’s easy for the tech savvy to scoff and wonder “well what were they expecting if they didn’t secure their devices?” it’s also equally true that most people don’t understand the ramifications of installing popular Smart devices into their homes and assume that if they’re going to be sold as security and monitoring tools there should be a certain amount of security built in. Read more
Buying Smart Home CCTV Or Security Systems For Christmas Could Come With An Unpleasant Surprise If You Don’t Take Precautions
You may have seen an article taken from WMC, a television station in the States, which has been shared on social media, of a hacker infiltrating the home camera which the LeMay family put into the bedroom of their three daughters. WMC Action News 5 presenter Jessica Holley says that the family had only recently installed the Ring security camera system when all kinds of strange things started happening. Those strange occurrences included voices and music coming through the speaker attached to the camera. The hacker claims to be 8 year old Alyssa’s “best friend” and “Santa Clause” after playing Tiny Tim’s version of Tiptoe Through The Tulips.
After running a couple of segments of footage where the clearly distressed child is alarmed by the voice of the hacker, which it’s claimed also instruct her to carry out destructive behaviour (not shown) Holley follows up by informing us that Alyssa’s parents hadn’t carried out all Ring’s recommended steps needed to fully secure the device against possible hacking and security breaches.
While Briant Communications would never ‘victim blame’ we feel it’s important that we use the LeMay family’s example of why it’s so important to take ALL the steps we, and manufacturers recommend to prevent hacking whenever you’re installing security devices around or inside the home.
Using Smart Home Technology To Keep In Touch With Family
Mrs LeMay bought the Ring camera during the Black Friday sales after seeing a colleague using the app on her phone to see and talk to their own kids at home and thought this would be great for her as she works as a nurse in a nearby hospital. However, only four days after the camera was installed Alyssa LeMay heard banging and music coming from her room and when she went to investigate she was spoken to by the hacker.
Home cameras are really handy devices to have around the house, whether you have a young family, pets, or not. They are an important and useful addition to a smart burglar alarm system and augment your CCTV camera surveillance too. If you have kids who misbehave you can keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not fighting when you’re away from home, or you can use them to watch over an elderly relative who you’re worried about but who doesn’t want to move out of their home into a retirement village.
In all of these instances it’s a real bonus to have an indoor home camera, but, as this story highlights, it is vitally important that you take care of their security settings as soon as you install them.
All The Security Steps You Need To Take To Secure Your Smart Technology From Hackers
One of the benefits of simple synchronisation is also one of its drawbacks. If you find it easy to add devices to your home network so will a hacker. And once a part of that network they can potentially switch from device to device making changes, watching footage, ordering things online, or unlocking your doors or disabling your alarms when you’re not home. All of the devices you buy will have additional security measures available to you, and you should definitely take advantage of them. The tips we run through below apply to all of your Smart Home Automation devices, not just cameras, alarms or CCTV. They should apply equally to lights, thermostats, smart home hubs and all of your voice or touch controlled Smart installations.
1 Give Your Router a Name
Giving your router a name means that it is hard to identify, consequently it’s hard for hackers to use any of the default settings and password that your particular brand of router shipped with. And that default password was probably ‘admin’ anyway. If you haven’t done so already, CHANGE THE NAME AND PASSWORD NOW!
2 Use Strong Security Settings
Wi-Fi routers have WPA2 built in, so use it! WPA or Wireless Protected Access encrypts the data that your router and your devices send to one another, and the web at large. When you look in your security settings you may also find WPA3, a more recent update, and if you have that option, use it!
3 Apply Passwords To Everything
As well as your router, each device you have should be password protected. Again they generally ship with ‘admin’ as a default password, or one of a very few six digit numbers. These passwords are available to anyone who cares to look hard enough on the internet, including hackers, as people unthinkingly reveal what the default was when discussing user issues online. The best device names simply say want the device is, such as ‘lounge light’ or ‘master bedroom thermostat’ making them easier for you to use while not giving away any manufacturer details to hackers. Passwords should be long and complex. Use a variety of special characters and numbers and make sure they’re at least 8 characters long if you have to remember them, and much longer if you use a password generator.
And don’t use the same password for everything! It’s human nature to keep things simple, and once you’ve decided on a brilliant password, to apply it to all of your online accounts such as email, Insta, Facebook and Twitter. But then using that same password with your home network means that all of them will be vulnerable to hackers too. This is down to the fact that your Smart System is fundamentally a domestic appliance. Your kids will use it, your partner, your extended family, your neighbour or your kids’ friends when they pop round and want to get onto the internet to play games, online or show you a video on Youtube…
4 Set Up a Guest Network
Setting up a guest network is a very simple thing to do to prevent hackers as it separates your internet data from your home automation system. When those friends of the children or the video loving neighbour pop by you can let them go on the guest network using a dedicated password and though they’re using your data there is no way for them, or anyone that they might let that password slip to, to get into your Smart Home controls.
5 Disable Features You Don’t Want And Enable Two Factor Verification
Features such as remote or guest access may be turned on as default. It’s important to check, and think about how you’re going to use each device. If you have no intention of ever using it from afar or letting anyone else control it, shut those options off immediately.
However, when it comes to two factor verification, that’s something you definitely want turned on if you’re serious about securing your network. Two factor verification means that you don’t get access simply by knowing the user name and password. Instead all that knowing these details means is that you get a unique short duration code either emailed or sent via SMS to your phone. You then use the code, within the allotted time-frame, to access the particular device. Because it’s time sensitive any hacker getting hold of it, writing it down and trying to use it again later will be disappointed, and because the code is sent to your phone number or email address you are the only person who’s going to have access to it.
6 Keep Up To Date With Security Updates
Sign up to the manufacturer’s newsletter and watch out for software updates for your phone, computer, tablet et cetera. If there are any significant security breeches or patches which need to be applied to keep your Smart device safe the first way the makers will try to contact you is via their newsletter. Sure they’ll try to sell you the latest version of the thing you just bought, but if anything goes wrong their end it’s the fastest, most reliable way for them to get in touch with you. Always be aware of phishing scams though, and if there is anything to give you cause to think the email isn’t genuine, don’t click on anything but search for the latest manufacturer updates on your favourite search engine.
Briant Communications are here to help. If you’re interested in installing security cameras, Smart burglar alarms, Smart thermostats and environmental controls we offer a free initial consultation and cost estimate service, we install and securely synchronise all of your Smart Home Automation with guarantees for parts and labour. Give us a call on 01273 465377 now or get in touch via our Contact Us page to book your appointment.
For many of us Christmas means a long car ride to see relatives back home or entertaining them in your house for a few days. Many people dread it, many relish it. Many also use the holiday season as an excuse to get away somewhere warm instead of facing another cold, wet, windy week of enforced joviality and sociability.And of you’re lucky enough to be one of those people who are going to be jetting off to sun, sea, sand and sangria (or a yogic retreat, nobody’s judging), you need to ensure that your home is properly prepared. Not long ago boosting your security would be leaving some lights on and asking a neighbour to bring the mail in and look after the cat. Today much of your home prep can be done automatically so you always know exactly what’s going on at home wherever you are in the world.
Managing your home remotely isn’t only for Christmas, although it does take a huge burden off during the most wonderful time of the year. The great thing about home automation is that there is so much you can do with it that rather than being worrisome, you can relax knowing that if anything does happen it won’t happened without your knowing about it.
Before You Go Away
Firstly, if you’re leaving your house unattended for more than a day or two it may be necessary to make sure that the pipes don’t burst, or your goldfish freeze. In that case a Smart thermostat is a handy item to have attached to the central heating system. With a smart thermostat you can decide which rooms need heating without having to get down to all the valves every time you want to adjust a particular radiator. Instead you can do it simply from a control panel or app, and you can control the temperature far more subtly.
Secure Against All Kinds Of Emergency
The fact that your thermostat is smart means it will detect by itself when you’re away and essentially go to ‘standby’ or ‘threshold settings’ by itself. If you’re going away for longer, a few weeks say, it may be necessary to check what the lowest settings are, but if you forget, you can always do it remotely. Read more
It’s less than a month until the last Christmas day of the decade, and of course that means we’re going to give you Briant Communications‘ recommendations for the best Smart Tech Automated Home devices which are currently available.
Smart technology really is a practical application for many people as it allows almost unlimited management through very simple interfaces that almost anybody can use. If you’re able to speak or use a touch screen then you’re probably going to be able to control many, if not most Smart home devices, making them perfect no only for the too-busy-to-do-stuff but those with disabilities and who may not have the strength to get up every time they need to answer the door, turn on a light or adjust the heating. Read more
The convenience of wireless it that you can take your networked devices anywhere with you. Desktop computers no longer outcompete laptops, except that they don’t need recharging and the screen size isn’t limited to the dimensions of a laptop. Phones work everywhere, and Wi Fi enabled speakers can be set up anywhere you want throughout the home to enjoy hifi quality sound in every room. The only drawback was that stray too far from the router, into the garden for example, and your wireless connected devices would start to misbehave. Sound stutters, downloads pause and streaming TV or movies pause (invariably at the moment where the action gets exciting).
While this is irritating for those of us who use Wi-Fi strictly for entertainment, for those of us who have Smart Home Automation a poor Wi-Fi signal means that devices such as burglar alarms and CCTV can’t be relied upon. If you work from home as a writer, designer, musician, or any other profession which requires instant and dependable access to digital communication, including internet, Skype, or file transfer platforms a poor signal in the home is a problem. And if you’ve set up your office or studio in an outbuilding or converted the garage into a workshop then one option is running a cable from your Wi-Fi or internet router to your laptop or desktop. A far from perfect solution. Read more