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
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.
Shopkeepers have always had to have an eye to their own security. While any homeowner can simply shut their doors to strangers, it’s retailers and service providers who have to keep their doors open to all comers in order to make their living. We’ve all seen the hand-written crime prevention signs saying “no more than 2 schoolchildren in the shop at one time” and felt the indignation of the young. But the store holder clearly felt that insulting and alienating what is probably a large part of their passing trade, by implying that they couldn’t be trusted if not closely observed, was worth it.
Today we’re much more familiar and comfortable with CCTV cameras than we were in the past. We understand that observation protects us, notwithstanding some people’s paranoia about mass surveillance and government intrusion. With police cuts there are fewer police on the beat, and city centres are overstretched at night over the weekend, so CCTV monitoring is in place to deploy police where they are needed the most, breaking up disturbances and preventing assaults more efficiently than patrolling the streets, despite this having the notional effect that the police are now paramilitary, while ‘community policing’ has gone by the wayside. Read more
The reasons for these habits among housebreakers are logical when you think about it. While the expression has it “a fox doesn’t make a mess on its own doorstep” a burglar will. It’s not that they lack the common sense not to steal from their neighbours because they might be seen using the stolen goods. They have no intention of keeping any of their booty anyway. It will be sold for cash or drugs, and at a fraction of what you paid for it. Read more
As part of Briant Communications, our engineers and installers have accrued many years’ experience fitting a range of electronic and entertainment systems throughout the south east of England, and those electronics often included CCTV, intruder alarms and fire safety equipment.
Briant Security Systems primarily take advantage of the latest Smart Home technology in order to be able to give you an easier to manage, controllable, integrated home security system which is far superior to the traditional ‘box on the wall’ deterrent we’re currently used to seeing. Read more
What’s The Point Of Having A Burglar Alarm If It’s Not Switched On?
Almost half of homeowners who have security systems fitted admitted that they were switched off when their homes were broken into. A poorly set up and calibrated burglar alarm could well go off when it’s not wanted, leading to disturbing your neighbours, upsetting your sleep, and becoming a public nuisance if it happens a lot. But switching it off isn’t the answer.
It may be that people have visible alarm units on their walls and a sticker in the window and rely on this deterrent to keep the intruders away. But studies show that dummy burglar alarms, and those which aren’t switched on every time the house is left empty, or the residents are asleep, are ineffective at keeping burglars at bay compared with an active alarm system.
And while it’s reassuring to think that burglaries only happen in affluent areas or in shops in the middle of the night, statistics don’t support this at all. In fact 2/3 burglaries take place in residential properties and they’re not as random as might seem. Most burglars live within a 2 mile radius of their victims and know the area, your neighbour’s habits and even your own patterns of behaviour. That’s not to say you’re being actively stalked, but a professional housebreaker will have a number of target properties on their mind and will watch the street to see who leaves when, and if anyone returns during the day. They’ll watch for the post too, to ensure they’re not making a get-away just as they try to deliver your gas bill. Read more
A short while ago Three.co.uk started offering a HomeFi wireless home router which delivers unlimited 4G to 32 devices for £22.00 per month. I had to check that was correct, as compared to other providers unlimited internet access for more than 30 phones, laptops, smart speakers, CCTV and alarms seems phenomenally good value. I was assured by the sales assistant that yes, it really was unlimited and, as he signed me up he checked all the ‘unlimited’ boxes on the form, which made me phenomenally happy!
Now, this package isn’t designed for a small business running their entire internet service via this one little Huawei device. You could try to connect 32 computers all streaming movies all day all month, but it’s only a little box which works on a GSM network so the connection just isn’t built for for that kind of data usage, so ‘unlimited’ actually means ‘unlimited depending on the speed and quality of the phone reception you’re receiving’. But if you’re not able to consume huge amounts of data due to the limitations of the phone network, what is it good for? Read more
There’s very little difference between Smart alarm systems and CCTV security as far as installation and effect is concerned. Either will alert you to the fact that there is an emergency on your property or in your house. In the past a security system linked to a burglar alarm would have meant installing cable, sensors and a big ugly box on the outside of your home which would scream and flash whenever the alarm was triggered. Today installation is nothing like as hard thanks to Smart Home Security systems, while coverage and adaptability are greatly improved.
Your Smart Home Alarm differs from your Smart Home Security only insomuch as your alarm system will let you and the intruder know audibly when someone triggers the security system you have protecting your property. Smart security will alert you to break-ins, intruders on your land, take video footage of them and, depending on your set-up, let emergency services know. However, there’s no reason why the two systems can’t be synchronised so that anything that happens in your home late at night or while you’re away will trigger an alert to let you, your burglar, and the police know.
So, while your old fashioned alarm system had a panel by the front door which you would need to arm whenever you left the house and input your disarming code when you came home your smart alarm can be controlled from a panel on the wall, a Smart Home hub, or from your smartphone via an app. With geofencing, technology which lets your smart home know where you are by tracking your phone, you can automatically arm the alarm every time you leave the house and disarm it when you come home again without needing to touch the control panel. Friends, family, carers or other trusted parties can be added to your approved list so they can let themselves in in case of emergency without setting off the alarm. Read more
Everyone hates car alarms going off in the middle of the night. Unfortunately we’re so used to car alarms going off for no good reason most neighbours will be far more likely to call to complain about the nuisance than they are to call the police to report a crime. So how can you use your smart home tech to alert you if your car parked outside your home, or business vehicle is broken into and stolen while parked overnight?
There are a number of different devices which can be installed in your car or van that will alert you to when it is moving, and its current location. They can immobilize your vehicle if you don’t have the right key and no transponder is present, or they can simply make a hell of a lot of noise. Read more
If you’re a PC user you’d never think of going onto the internet without first installing an antivirus software package. If you’re a Mac user you’ve been spared this hassle, although some pundits suggest that Macs need protection too, it’s never been an issue that has been taken too seriously.
But it’s becoming increasingly important, as people use their broadband for services other than surfing the internet that you get not only your computer, but your whole home wifi network protected, indeed, even when you’re using a Mac.
Because there are so many devices, including lightbulbs, CCTV, ovens and fridges which use a wifi connection to communicate with one another a comprehensive solution is required. It’s simply not possible to install a suite of malware, Trojan and virus protection on the chip that turns your lightbulb on and off so it’s vital that you protect your network at source, by installing antivirus on your PC and router. Installing antivirus on your router is almost as easy as it is on your computer, it simply needs following a few additional steps. Depending on the device you use it’s most likely to mean plugging the computer into the router via an Ethernet cable (which would have come in the router’s packaging when it was bought), downloading the software from a reliable source, and saving it in the place directed by the setup wizard. Read more