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  • Geebo 8:04 am on October 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Smart Home,   

    Smart home camera hacked in baby’s room 

    Smart home camera hacked in baby's room

    A California CEO has written a column for The Mercury News where he relays the tale about how his smart home camera system was hacked. It is quite a rather harrowing tale as the digital vandals used the speaker on the camera in the baby’s room to harass the family’s nanny. The anonymous voice on the other end of the camera was using profanity and even threatened to come take the baby at one point. It wasn’t until all the cameras were disconnected did the harassment stop. The father later found out that this is a fairly common occurrence with internet-connected cameras, specifically the brand that he was using.

    The father then tried contacting the technical support arm of the corporation that manufactures the cameras and was on hold for over an hour. He also received emails that continued to push the idea of two-factor authentication to keep out would-be pranksters. The father was not satisfied with this response and has vowed not to use this brand of camera ever again. His outrage can be understood especially for parents with young children because you can never truly know who is watching your home while you’re unaware. A more sophisticated criminal could use such information gleaned from home cameras to tell when a home may be vulnerable to being robbed.

    While the camera maker’s customer service may sound a little tone-deaf as far as the father’s mistrust is concerned, their advice about two-factor authentication is not wrong. 2FA, as it’s known, can go a long way in preventing these cameras from being hijacked. Also if you use the same password across multiple services you could be compromising your security greatly by making it easy for hackers to gain access to your devices. In this case, you may want to try some of the more reliable password managers out there. As we have said before, if you don’t take your internet security more seriously, it’s like having the most expensive lock that you just leave the key in.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Smart Home,   

    When a smart home isn’t so smart 

    When a smart home isn't so smart

    Many people think that they are better securing their home by installing smart devices. These devices can range from anything from cameras to door locks and anything in between. These classes of smart devices are known as the internet of things or IoT for short. That means that these devices are connected to the internet so the user can control them from just about anywhere. The major drawback to IoT devices is that they can also be controlled by bad actors if the user isn’t careful.

    A couple in Milwaukee found that the hard way this week when someone was able to take control of some of their smart devices. The couple had a nest camera and thermostat installed. When one of them came home they found that the thermostat was set at 90 degrees. After that, someone started verbally harassing them through the speaker on their security camera. Even after the couple changed all their passwords the abuse continued until the devices were disconnected. The couple lays the blame at Nest, which is owned by Google, but the fault may lie elsewhere.

    It’s not hard to hack into IoT devices if the users are using the same password or weak passwords to secure their network and devices. Also, as we discussed with the recent YouTube hack, two-factor authentication (2FA) should also be enabled on these devices. While 2FA has its own flaws, it’s more secure than using an easily guessed password. These devices are designed to help protect your home, but if you’re not using 2FA it’s like having the most expensive lock that you just leave the key in.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Realogy, Smart Home, TurnKey   

    Would you live in an Amazon watched house? 

    Would you live in an Amazon watched house?

    Having a ‘smart’ home has been a craze for tech’s early adopters for some time now. Whether it’s smart lights that can operate on voice command or thermostats that can be operated remotely, the number of gadgets that can be installed in your home seem to be in a never-ending supply. However, it seems that a near-monopoly has been created in the smart home market with either Google or Amazon buying up most of the startups that initially gave rise to the modern smart home idea. Now one of those companies wants to help you buy a house with their devices already built in.

    Amazon has teamed with realtors Realogy to help you get into a new home and not one of the prefab tiny homes you can order on Amazon. The reason this partnership has been made was for Amazon to get you integrated into Amazon’s smart home ecosystem. For example, if you purchase a home worth $700,000 or more you’ll receive $5,000 in Amazon smart devices and services. This includes Ring doorbells, Amazon Echos, among other Amazon-related smart home gear and services. This program, called TurnKey, has launched in 15 major cities including San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, and Chicago just to name a few.

    Of course, there are drawbacks to owning such a home. The first concern is privacy. Amazon has courted controversy with its almost always-listening Echo devices. Reportedly, Echo devices not only record your voice but keep it stored in Amazon’s cloud servers indefinitely. The second concern is obsolescence. While these devices and services may seem like a convenience now, what if Amazon decided for whatever reason to stop supporting these devices. The majority of these devices rely on Amazon hosting these services in the cloud. If Amazon decides to pull the plug one day, you’d be left with a bunch of defunct gadgets in need of immediate replacement. More immediately, what if Amazon has any downtime on these services? If these services go down nationally that could potentially make your home a target as we’re sure any kind of outage like that would make national news.

    While the allure of free Amazon devices may seem like a strong one, you may want to weigh your options before giving into it.

     
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