Category: Uncategorized

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

Futureproof Your Digital Broadband By Choosing The Right Technology

Image courtesy of broadband, computer, work, home, Anyone developing a building project on the south coast will be concerned about future proofing the property. But knowing what technology today is viable for the future and what will be superseded by better technology is almost impossible. If only we could count on reliability, quality and availability to help us make up our minds, but it’s not that simple either. Betamax was better than VHS. It was better quality, and there was no reason that Beta video recorders wouldn’t have become smaller and lighter in the fullness of time. So why did VHS take over?

JVC was interested in making cheap, readily available video tapes for the home. While Sony were heavily invested in music and cinema production and distribution, giving them all the networks they needed to monopolise, they failed to capitalise on their advantage as they refused to license Betamax technology to other companies. This was their major mistake as JVC were happy to let other manufacturers and licensees produce their cheaper VHS tapes. This meant that you could essentially get any other movie except a Sony production on VHS.

By the 90s we’d seen too many alternatives come onto the market and disappear. In the 80s there was laserdisc, VHS, Betamax, cassette, they were followed by CDs DVDs, Minidisc and finally MP3 and MP4. After Minidisc there was a rush to invent the next media, technology companies were looking for the next music and video storage system, but the record industry was against it. Technology was over-proliferating the market so there was a risk that nobody would buy new devices because they were worried that their new hi-fi or video player would be obsolete before the warranty had expired. A moratorium on new technology lasted for a few years while Minidiscs proved popular, useful, but unfortunately other technology was sneaking up behind. Read more

Broadband Problems? How To Get Out Of A Bad Contract

local broadband, fast broadband, Worthing broadbandWe’ve all received bad service and not got the satisfaction we feel we deserve. But if you’ve signed a broadband internet contract and you’re not getting what you wanted, here’s how to kick up the right kind of fuss!

There are few things more infuriating than not getting what you want, especially if you’re paying your own hard-earned cash for it. As kids we’re taught to live with disappointment, but as bill paying adults who aren’t getting what was sold to us or what we ordered, we reserve the right to kvetch!

If you order a pair of shoes or a dress online and they pinch, or the fit is wrong for your shape, you just send it back and get a refund or replacement. Simple. If you get a random product as a substitute in your grocery delivery you roll your eyes and hope for better luck next time (while wondering what on Earth was going on in the head of the person who substitutes a salad with a chocolate bar, or condoms with a pregnancy test!).

But what about when you’re not receiving a product or service such as broadband data that was promised? There are several things which can, and do go wrong with your Internet Service Provider, some are unavoidable, some take a bit of effort on their part to fix, and some are so chronic that you have the right to leave your contract early without incurring penalty fees or other additional costs.

Consumers who live in out-of-the-way areas may find that they’re not going to get gigabit data for the foreseeable future, fibre to the property might be a long way off and Wi-Fi might not be deliverable. These are all things the call centre agent you’re on the phone to simply can’t fix. However, if these problems genuinely can’t be avoided then the Internet Service Provider should make every effort to offer you a deliverable alternative which is reasonably priced. If they can’t, you simply shop elsewhere. Read more

Congratulations on Your Smart Doorbell

smart home security, cctv camera, home cctv, home security,Now let’s look at how to get the most out of your smart doorbell, from improving battery life to recording motion detection.

Over the past 18 months we’ve all become used to being in all the time. We’ve been shopping online rather than going to the shops, and we’re always in when the delivery driver brings our goods to the door. Now we’re finally coming out of lockdown (again) there are habits we’ll probably keep, and many we’ll lose as soon as we get used to being back in the open and enjoying society again.

Even people who are otherwise resistant to digital technology have managed to get to grips with ZoomFacebook and all the other socials which made staying in touch with the family so much easier than it would have been without them. People who previously couldn’t programme their TV to record an entire series were setting up pub quizzes via Zoom and dominating WhatsApp groups like never before.

Now that lockdown is almost over and with vaccination it looks like they may be a thing of the past, shopping from home still looks like it’s going to be one of those habits which persist. It’s convenient, retailers have been working on perfecting it for years, and after the numbers of online sales, they now have lived experience of making it work in volume long term. But there is one drawback. Although we enjoy shopping online, we won’t always be in to accept deliveries any longer. So what are we going to do?

Smart doorbells and access control solutions are precisely the piece of kit you need in such situations. Smart doorbells have several applications and advantages which people have always been keen on. You don’t have to run to the door every time it rings as you can just see who’s at the door and open it wherever you are, so if you’re in the bath, in bed, or at the bottom of the garden you can see who’s calling and decide if you want to let them in, or ask them to come back later, or even inform them that you’re calling the police.
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A Professional’s Top Ten Tips For Smart Home Security

Touch sensitive digital smart home automation control panel. As we’re coming out of lockdown and looking at getting back to normal, it’s not only Honest-Johns who will be coming out of their lockdown bubbles, blinking and squinting in the sunlight. No, hackers will have been researching, plotting, planning and putting their enforced free time to nefarious use, learning the most effective, efficient and undetectable ways to bypass weak security and gain access to your Smart Home Environment.

Naturally there are ways to keep yourself safe and secure, but you need to go above and beyond the built in and factory default settings on your Smart Home Devices if you’re going to achieve any real security. Changes to the laws manufacturers have to abide by when it comes to default settings, two stage authentication, and passwords are in the pipeline, but there are at least ten ways to secure your devices today which will add heft to your home network security. Read more

Can Your Television Receiver Stand Another Storm?

storm, storm damage, fallen, blown, dangerous, aerial, satellite, tv dish, repair, remove, replaceWe’ve had Storm Ciara, and this weekend it looks as if we’re going to have another named storm in the form of Storm Dennis. If your satellite dish or aerial withstood the last gale, could it withstand another one?

TV aerials and satellite dishes work by presenting as large a surface area as possible to the incoming signal. The more signal the better, so you get excellent picture and sound as well as a complete choice of channels. Which is great if you live somewhere that isn’t prone to frequent gales and storms in the winter and up to sixteen hours of intense sunlight in the summer. While it’s calm everything is fine, but when the wind picks up that large surface area acts in exactly the same way as a sail, and it’s only the great job the installer or maintenance engineer did when they last looked at it which keeps it from flying off, potentially causing incalculable damage to anything or anyone it hits along the way.

If your satellite dish or aerial antenna was installed recently it’s probably going to be quite safe and do a fine job of standing up to the weather. If it does happen to move at all it’s no problem for a professional installation and maintenance firm such as Briant Communications to realign the dish or mast so that it picks up signal again. The bigger problem comes from old redundant receivers which aren’t being used any more. It’s a faff to have the old receivers taken down and removed when you’re putting the new one up, so why not leave it in place?

The problem is that you now have an ageing piece of unwanted and untended technology attached to your wall, chimney stack or roof which is still getting battered by the wind and rain. You won’t notice that they’re getting loose because your reception isn’t affected, but a large piece of unsecured metal on the roof poses a huge threat to your house and personal safety! Read more

A New Smart Home Standard Coming Soon

Woman using a digital smart home heating control panelAmazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance plan to draft a new Smart Home System protocol later this year which will create a more universal platform for all smart devices to work on.

Currently a manufacturer locks a device into one ecosystem, and once it’s on it won’t connect with any other. This is bad for consumers as they have to seek out and find the right devices for their home ecosystem, if they get it wrong they have the frustration of having to send it back and get a replacement, assuming one is even available. It’s also bad for manufacturers as they have to spend R&D budget on making multiple device ranges which are compatible for each of the Smart Home networks, or commit to only producing products which ‘play’ with one system. Get it wrong and it’s Betamax and VHS all over again, with time and effort being spent on two competing systems, one of superior quality, but at a high cost, and a cheaper, inferior product which, while perfectly adequate for the home user, wasn’t the premium quality it was possible to produce.

Instead, what is going to happen, is Amazon, Google, Apple and the Zigbee Alliance will collaborate on producing a Smart home environment which many more devices will be able to connect to. They won’t glitch or fail to function, or require householders to run more than one platform in the home.

The new protocol will be known as Project Connected Home over IP and promises to not only be more universal, but more secure too as there will be no need for poorly compatible devices to be forced into service by work-arounds or hacks. Read more

Get Smart, Get Superfast WiFi Access Throughout Your Home And Garden

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

Preparing Your Home For Another Stormy Winter On The South Coast

poor aerial installationAs October draws on it’s a good time to think about preparing your home for the storms and snow that houses in the south east of England face this winter.

People who live on the south coast and along the South Downs will be more than familiar with the gales which can batter the region for days any time between October and April. We’re inured to it and laugh inwardly at those who are new to the area, who think that an umbrella will be of any consequence against weather which is coming in sideways.

But right now is the perfect time to prepare your house for winter, and all that it brings. Summer is a time when we’re all out enjoying the benefits of living in southern England, but now, as the nights draw in and the thermometer falls, it’s time to plan for the worst it has to offer.

Maintenance and Repairs

Autumn is the perfect time to carry out domestic repairs as the jobs which need doing reveal themselves. You won’t have noticed the rattling draughty windows during summer as they were all flung open to let the fresh air in, but now you’ve closed them you notice how much care they need. The same goes for many maintenance jobs.

Sash windows are prone to rattle and let in drafts. Wedges in the corners will hold them still and reduce a lot of the drafts, however, a draft excluder designed for small gaps inserted where the bottom and upper sash meet fill the equivalent of a two inch square home in every window in the house. Read more

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Professional Vs DIY Home Security Systems?

home security, security, business security, DIY, burglar alarm, intruder alarmRecent surveys have revealed that in up to 28% of broadband users have an active internet based security system, 24% also take advantage of a monitoring service. Most of these people are homeowners with children. And many of these people have chosen to go down the DIY path when it comes to installation.

The message put out by the manufacturers including Ring, Hive, Nest, et cetera is being picked up the consumer as a further 52% report as being “highly likely” to purchase a security system of their own, and install it themselves.

So what are the pros and cons of DIY burglar alarm and security system installations versus a professional installation service?

The first consideration is naturally the cost. Buying a system that you can take straight out of the box and put up yourself is clearly going to be cheaper than buying a system and then paying a professional to mount it for you.

Then there is the convenience. If you’re a DIYer and you have the skills and tools required you can buy a home security system, get it home, wire it in and have it up and running in an afternoon. You don’t have to make an appointment for someone to come and see your property, recommend a system, order it, and then come back and install the product. Read more