Category Archives: Security

First Alert Connects Safety and Simplicity at CES 2017



Today’s connected home technology meets common sense functionality and excellence in design with the expanded Onelink by First Alert portfolio of home safety and security products. Onelink by First Alert brought five products to CES 2017.

The Onelink by First Alert portfolio includes a range of home monitoring devices designed to seamlessly integrate with today’s most secure connected home platform, Apple HomeKit. Additionally, the Onelink lineup conveniently connects users to their homes via the Onelink Home App, providing one location for all devices and security and peace of mind from anywhere, anytime.

Onelink by First Alert Smoke + Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm

This 2-in-1 wireless combination smoke and CO alarm offers premium safety features and sensing technologies. In the event of a fire or carbon monoxide emergency, the alarm will sound and send push notifications to the user’s mobile device. Exclusive voice and location technology will alert users to the type of danger and its location. The sleek, modern-designed alarm is Apple HomeKit-enabled and works with Amazon Alexa, where users can ask Alexa the status of alarms or to help develop a family fire escape plan.

Onelink by First Alert Envirocam

Parents will benefit from this revolutionary device that offers non-contact respiration rate monitoring. The Onelink Envirocam features a patented design that detect micro-movements to monitor breathing directly from the smart camera, eliminating the hassle of other respiration monitoring devices that require physical contact with the child. The camera also monitors environmental conditions. The Onelink Home app dashboard offers critical information such as sleep data, temperature, low and high carbon monoxide levels, and humidity at the parents’ fingertips.

Onelink First Alert Environment Monitor

This smart device features advanced sensing technologies to monitor both high- and low-levels of carbon monoxide (CO), both of which can be harmful. Compatible with Apple HomeKit and enhanced to be compatible with Amazon Alexa, the Onelink Environment Monitor monitors temperature and humidity and notifies users of any changes.

Onelink by First Alert Safe

Ideal for homes and small businesses, this smart safe combine’s best-in-class security with smart home functionality. Users can unlock the safe with their mobile device using the Onelink Home app with Touch ID and passcode verification. It also features tamper and motion detection, sending push notifications to the user if a disturbance or tampering is detected by the safe. The Onelink Safe is fire-rated and waterproof to protect valuables against unexpected emergencies, and features exclusive Bolt Down Technology that allows the safe to be bolted directly to the floor, without compromising fire and water protection.

Onelink by First Alert Wi-Fi Thermostat

This programable smart device connects easily to Wi-Fi and enables users to control their heating and cooling directly from their mobile devices via the app. It works seamlessly with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, allowing users to integrate with the smart home platform of their choice. With these virtual assistants, users do not even need to touch their phones – simply speak aloud and with hands-free commands to adjust or inquire about the temperature.

Onelink by First Alert will be at CES 2017 at the First Alert Booth in the Sands Expo at booth #41330.


Cognitive Systems Launches Aura at CES 2017



Cognitive Systems, an advanced RF technology company, today announced the launch of Aura, a thoughtful security system for the home that uses patented spectrum analytics technology to detect and monitor motion, without using cameras.

Aura is a home security system that uses technology patented by Cognitive Systems to monitor the disruption of wireless signals caused by the movement in the home, without the use of cameras. Household members are notified on their smartphones of unauthorized motion that occurs anywhere in the home. With the simple two-piece system, Aura provides full coverage for the average home, even in rooms where people are typically unwilling to place cameras. Aura can also recognize the presence of known members, show motion patterns in the home, and provide a timeline of activity, deliver tailored notifications to homeowners’ smartphones, and interact with other smart home systems.

Aura is powered by a custom chipset from Cognitive Systems that monitors and analyzes wireless signal patters that occur when movement takes place within an home, and alerts the user if unauthorized motion is detected. Aura is more accurate than other motion detectors since the system is not dependent on light and it understands the difference between human and non-human movement (e.g. a fan, shadows, drapes blowing, etc.) Aura will be launching with IFTTT integration so that it can connect with other smart home systems as desired.

Aura is set up and managed via a free app available in the Apple Store and on Google Play. The app allows homeowners to see three different views of motion: Live, 12 hour, and Weekly. Consumers can also use the app to see who is currently at home, a timeline of household activity, arm or disarm the system, and more.

Aura is available for preorder with MSRP of $299. However, for CES fans, Aura will be available at a special pre-order price of $399 for a limited time. Orders will ship by February 28, 2017.

Cognitive Systems will be at CES 2017 in the Sands Expo Smart Home at Booth #42124.


Adieu Yahoo!



Dear Yahoo,

I’m sorry but I’m breaking up with you, and I’m afraid that it’s you, not me. We’ve been together for over ten years, from the early days of Flickr and Yahoo Groups, but you’ve hurt my feelings twice now and I think you’ve been cheating on me. It’s been fun but it’s not going to work out. There’s no longer any trust between us.

I’ll get my stuff out of your properties and return the keys as soon as I can. Goodbyee!

P.S. If anyone else wants to break up with Yahoo!, here’s the link https://edit.yahoo.com/config/delete_user.


Enhanced Security Measures Continue for CES 2017



PrintThe Consumer Technology Association (CTA), owner and producer of CES, has announced that it will continue to implement advanced security measures at the upcoming CES 2017 to maximize the safety of all attendees. The security measures are designed to provide a safe and secure environment while ensuring attendees have an efficient and productive experience.

CTA is working closely with law enforcement officials at all levels to maximize security on-site at CES 2017. This year’s security measures include bag restrictions and metal detectors.

Only two bags, each smaller than 12”x17”x6” may be brought into official show venues. Rolling bags of any size will not be permitted on the show floor. This includes luggage, carry-ons, laptop and computer bags and rolling luggage carts. All attendees are encouraged to consider their bag type and use clear bags (mesh, plastic, vinyl, etc.) to expedite the process of going through metal detectors and check points.

While all attendees will be subject to metal detector screening upon entering show premises, CTA will conduct searches at specific points to ensure quick and easy access to exhibit halls and reduce the number of times attendees have to go through security.

For efficient entry on-site, all attendees must have an official CES badge and government-issued photo ID before entering CES show venues. To speed entrance at all venues, attendees are strongly encouraged to register online and to pick up badges at the airport or hotels before arriving at the show.


Blink Wins Second Consecutive CES Innovation Awards Honoree Recognition



blink-logoBlink, the ultra-affordable, truly wire-free and battery-powered home security and HD video monitoring system, announced that it has been named as a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree. The brand won recognition for its Blink 2.0 system, marking the second consecutive CES Innovation Award victory for the brand within the Smart Home category.

Unveiled earlier this fall, Blink 2.0 takes the brand’s signature features – unmatched battery life and ease of use – to the next level. In an effort to further solidify Blink’s competitive advantage, the company’s world-class engineering team did not simply increase battery life, they doubled it. Blink’s revolutionary cameras now run for an industry-leading two years on just two AA lithium batteries, with the ability to record up to 60 second and auto-stop recording when motion is no longer detected.

Blink upended the smart home security industry last year, taking CES and the consumer tech market by storm with an unbeatable price point ($99), unprecedented battery life, and unmatched ease of installation and use. Blink has continued this momentum as demonstrated by its announcement of two-year battery life and the title of CES Innovation Award Honoree for the second year in a row.

Blink will be at CES Unveiled on January 3 and CES 2017 from January 5-8 at Booth #40136 in the Smart Home section of the Sands, Hall A-D.


Bulletproof Laptop Bag Doubles as a Potentially Life-Saving Shield



mts-multi-threat-shield-bagForce Training Institute (FTI) is comprised of a diverse and highly experienced group of subject matter experts with legal, corporate, risk management, security, military, and law enforcement backgrounds. They have created a portable bulletproof shield that looks like a laptop bag.

The MTS Multi-Threat Shield bag looks like an average black laptop bag, but is actually a lightweight and discrete ballistic shield. It can be used by families, schools, law enforcement, first responders, hospitals, businesses, and private security personnel to protect one or more people.

A quick flick of the wrist swiftly deploys a 3-foot long blanket of protection to defeat multiple impacts from most handgun, shotgun, and pistol caliber sub-machine gun threats. (A Level III insert plate, which can protect against high powered rifles, is sold separately). In addition, the MTS offers protection from attacks with blunt objects and edged weapons, as well as punches and kicks.

The bag has an expandable pouch, which is designed to hold equipment. The bag is not intended to be used to actually carry a laptop.

Specifications

  • Model No.: MTS-010
  • Protection Level: NIJ Level IIIA (Level III with optional Rifle Plate Insert)
  • Total Weight: 8 pounds
  • Closed Position Size: 12” L X 17.5” W x 1.75” D
  • Open Position Size: 36.5” L x 17.5” W x 0.58”
  • Total Ballistic Coverage: 639 sq. in.
  • Ballistic Components: One-Piece (no gap) Laminated Kevlar
  • Carrier Material: 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon, Water Repellent
  • Blunt Force Inserts: 11” x 17” x 0.16” Kydex & 11” x 17” x .25 Shock Pad
  • Strap: MIL-SPEC 1.5” Webbing w/360 Detachable Rotating Polymer Clips
  • Color: Black


Bold Euro Cylinder Smart Lock on Kickstarter



Bold LogoSmart locks have been gradually appearing on the US market over the past few years, with the Kevo Kwikset being one of the more popular. Over on the European side of the pond, it’s taken a little longer for smart locks to appear but they’re beginning to come onto the market from both established vendors and start-ups. Locks in UK and mainland Europe use different styles and standards from the USA so it’s not simply a case of rebranding an existing product.

Yale announced their entry into the market earlier in the year and you might have listened to my interview with them at this year’s Gadget Show Live. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, some of the early smart locks have left a great deal to be desired aesthetically, with boxy designs  and limited colour choices. Black anyone?

Fortunately, there are some smart locks beginning to appear that work with European doors, match the door furniture and look good. Case in point, the Bold smart cylinder lock which has just launched on Kickstarter. It’s a plug-in replacement for doors that use the Euro profile cylinder lock, comes in four different colours and looks like a door knob.

Bold Smart Cylinder Lock

The Bold uses Bluetooth technology so it unlocks based mainly on proximity of a smartphone or key fob using the Bold app. One of the big benefits of pure wireless (no keypad) is that all the electronics can be on the inside of the door, safe from both the elements and criminals. There’s no remote unlock feature so you can’t unlock the door from the comfort of your desk to let a neighbour in but you can invite or authorise them to use their own smartphone to unlock the door. There’s benefits of both approaches and you’ll have to think through your use cases to decide what’s best for you. A keyfob (say, for children) is available for extra cost.

Bold Key Fob

The Bold seems to keep it simple from a hardware point of view too. The Bold isn’t motorised so it doesn’t actually unlock the door itself, though it engages the handle with the mechanism so that the door can be unlocked (or locked) by turning the handle. The benefit of this is a much longer battery life (three years) and lower cost for the lock while eliminating the need for often troublesome moving parts.

The team appear to have given some thought to security, working with specialists Ubiqu and their qKey to provide a secure system. Can’t say that I’m qualified to comment further but it does provide some reassurance that the Bold team aren’t making it up as they go along. To see the Bold in action, check the video on the Kickstarter page.

If this interests you, the lowest price point currently available is €149. Just remember with all things Kickstarter, there’s a risk to your money so don’t spend what you can’t afford. You might also want to check the dimensions on your door to check that the Bold doesn’t foul existing door handles.

Personally I’ve mixed feelings about smart locks. While I know that most door locks can be defeated by the determined criminal, I’m still confident that once I close my front door behind me and turn the key, that door is going to stay locked. With smart locks, there’s still that kind of nagging feeling that it might automagically unlock itself…and of course a mechnical lock is still going to be working in ten, twenty, thirty years’ time. Still, I’m tempted…..


Devolo Updates Home Control



Devolo LogoLast night Devolo pushed out a major update to its Home Control platform, providing additional functionality in four new areas. The update occurred painlessly on my system and while I wasn’t able to fully explore the new features, I’ve managed a few screenshots.

Devolo New DevicesFirst, there are three new supported devices with two sensors, flood and humidity, and one actuator, a siren, which are all coming soon. It’s not clear if the siren is for internal or external use though it will be useful in rounding out the security features of the system.

 

Second, there’s now integration with Philips Hue lighting system and Home Control picks up the configuration directly from the Hue hub, inserting the available lights into the list of devices. This addresses what I felt was one of the main flaws with Home Control and brings it up to scratch, as it were.

Devolo with HueThird, Home Control has improved third party integration with web services and this comes in two parts. The first is what Devolo are calling “scene sharing” and this is the ability to trigger remotely a scene (e.g. living room lights on). Effectively, this allows integration with tools like IFTTT, so you can do things like “If my GPS says I’m within 300m of home and it’s dark, then turn the hall and porch lights on.”

Devolo 3rd Party IntegrationThe second part of this integration allows the Home Control system to access other devices by URL, e.g. http://……, so if another device can “do stuff” via a web address, then Home Control can potentially access it. I haven’t explored this area but I imagine you could use this to integrate with other 3rd party devices like webcams that often present a web-based view, as well as working with IFTTT.

Finally, the dashboard functionality has been improved with the option to now have multiple dashboards so that it’s easier to construct different views of your smart world. For example, you could have a room-based dashboard or a device-based dashboard that could be used for a security view of the home. Again, I didn’t get a chance to play with this functionality so can’t comment in more detail, but it looks handy.

Overall it’s a worthwhile update that brings some much needed functionality to Home Control.


272 million emails and passwords leaked from Gmail, Hotmail and more



It seems that not a day goes by without some security news, usually in the form of a breach. There have been some big ones too, from Target to Home Depot, as well as online ones, including the embarrassing Ashley Madison one.

Now we have the latest news, and it’s up there with the largest in history. 272 million emails and passwords from the likes of Gmail, Hotmail and others have been leaked.

Before you panic too much, realize that the data obtained consisted largely of data that had been seen before. Hold Security, which broke this news, claims that “Only 0.45 percent is new, meaning that only 1 out of 200 credentials are ones we have never seen before”.

The hacker was simply trying to unload the data and contacted the security firm asking only 50 rubles, which is less than $1 US. Not wanting to contribute anything to this cause the Hold Security company negotiated and received the information for free.

Hold claims “When we peel back the layers and dig deeper, we find that the hacker is holding something back from us. Within several days of communication and after a couple more strategically timed votes on his social media pages, he shared more useful information. At the end, this kid from a small town in Russia collected an incredible 1.17 Billion stolen credentials from numerous breaches that we are still working on identifying. 272 million of those credentials turned out to be unique, which in turn, translated to 42.5 million credentials — 15 percent of the total, that we have never seen before”.

Yes, this has the potential to be very bad, but right now we just don’t know. We also don’t know why the hacker was trying to unload it so quickly and then ended up giving it away. Stay tuned as this unfolds.


Ransomware threat grows as April sets a new record



bigstock-Computer-Hacker-in-suit-and-ti-31750772

Ransomware is the latest phase in online fraud. Think of it as an old-time mafia shake-down. It amounts to protection money. Your data gets encrypted and you have to pay to unlock your own files. It’s a deplorable practice, but unfortunately also a lucrative one.

And it’s that promise of money that keeps the market for these things going. In fact, a new report claims April was the biggest month yet for this sector of malware.

Enigma Software Group did a study of all infections, covering more than 65 million since April 2013. The results were disturbing. It claims it “found that ransomware in April 2016 more than doubled the total from March 2016. Additionally, ransomware made up a larger percentage of overall infections in April than in any other month in the last three years”.

The trend has resulted in some high-profile attacks, including a hospital being hit. In many cases, it’s both individual users as well as businesses.

“It’s not just businesses that are being hit by ransomware”, says ESG spokesperson Ryan Gerding. “Every day thousands and thousands of people turn on their personal computers only to find their most precious photos and other files have been locked up by bad guys”.

The best defense against these attacks is to backup your data, either in the cloud or on an external drive that you can disconnect from the network, a it propagates across drives and computers to ensure that you have no access to it. There is also the usual advice — think before you click links and keep your system up to date, both OS and software.

Image Credit: Bigstock