Tag Archives: Security

Smanos Launches K1 Smart Home at Gadget Show Live



Smanos LogoIn the last of my smart home interviews from Gadget Show Live, I look at one of the new entrants to the market, Smanos. The Dutch firm announced their new K1 Smart Hub at the show and while it’s a good-looking piece of kit, the K1 is coming into an increasingly crowded space. I chat with Rafael about Smanos and the difference it brings.

Coming from a security background, Smanos has brought its understanding of that space to the smart home. The first iteration of the K1 focusses on security: the starter kit includes a siren, door/window sensor, motion sensor and keypard with the Smart Hub. As might be expected, the devices use Z-Wave for communication and there’s an app for managing and controlling the system, so additional sensors can be added easily.

Smanos K1 Smart Hub

In order to set Smanos apart from the competition, the K1 has well designed sensors that wouldn’t look out of place in a bijoux pad. All white and chrome with surface detail, it’s clear that the sensors are part of a matched set, and not awkwardly thrown together to meet a functional need.

K1 Smart Home

In addition to the K1 Smart Hub (GB£249), Smanos launched the UFO panoramic Wi-Fi HD camera (£149) with a massive field of view, and a smart video doorbell (£159). Both of these look neat.


Shhh! It’s a Secret!



Shhh!The past few weeks have seen most of the tech industry line up against law enforcement and intelligence agencies over the matter of encryption and privacy. I particularly liked Google’s recent conversion to privacy as it wasn’t that long ago that Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, said that, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Moving on, there’s been a great deal of emphasis on the privacy aspect, but few have noted that encryption is mainly about secrecy, and that privacy and secrecy are not the same thing. If you do think that privacy and secrecy are the same thing, consider this, “It’s no secret that you go to the restroom, but it’s something you do in private.” I can’t claim credit for this – Bruce Schneier was discussing this over ten years ago and I thoroughly recommend you read some of his recent posts on the matters too.

You might also like to think of it this way; a private home v. secret hide-out. The former is in plain sight but restricted to the owner and his guests, whereas the latter is hidden and known only to a select few.

With a better understanding of the difference between privacy and security, a more reasoned debate can take place, which needs to be agnostic of the technology, to decide the rights of the individuals and the responsibilities of law enforcement.

Ask yourself some questions, “Should what person X does (on their phone) be private?” and “Should what person X does (on their phone) be secret?”. Remember, person X might be you, your family, your friends, your colleagues; person X might be suspects, criminals, murderers, terrorists, paedophiles; person X might be freedom fighters, democracy activitists, oppressed women, abused spouses, LGBT members. You get the picture, person X might be someone you approve of, or they might be someone you don’t like.

The easy answer is to say that person X should have privacy but not secrecy. Does this guard against wholesale monitoring of communication by intelligence agencies? Snowden has shown that this happened and I think most people would see this as an overreach of their authority with no legal oversight. But once person X has come to the attention of the authorities, does that strip away any right to privacy? What level of suspicion is needed, what evidence is required, what is the process of law? None of these have easy answers.

Undoubtedly this is a complex affair with hyperbole, thin-end-of-wedge-ism, and freedom protestors in dictatorships by the bucket load. For certain, we need to move this away from the technology and into human, societal and legal rights. Nothing is black and white, but this is about the future and the world we want to live in. Personally, I firmly believe in privacy, but I’m not so sure about secrecy. I use encryption on my phone as reassurance that should I lose my phone, important data won’t be misused by the finder. Generally I feel that wrong-doers, alleged or otherwise, shouldn’t have secrets, but I’m always concerned about the abuse of power. As always, “Who watches the watchers?”

(The other curious thing to consider is regarding dead people. Generally, they don’t have the same legal rights as living people. What would this mean?)


Keezel Personal WiFi with VPN Security



KeezelVPNs are great for keeping snooping countries, Orwellian agencies and thieving criminals at bay, but they’re not always straightforward to setup and when you have a laptop, mobile phone and tablet it’s a pain to maintain the VPN on each of them. Keezel has a solution in the shape of a personal wifi hotspot which has VPN software baked into the firmware. Daniel finds out more from Aike Müller, Co-Founder and CEO.

The way the Keezel works is that when out-and-about in coffee shops and other public wifi areas, you connect all your personal devices to the Keezel wirelessly. The Keezel connects to the public wifi network, establishes a VPN connection to a secure server and then all your communications travel securely across the network. Neat.

The standard price is US$99 for the Keezel and then $5 per month for the VPN service. The Keezel is currently on Indigogo’s InDemand having been originally 540% funded back in August 2015. There are some special perks available with devices are expected to ship in March 2016.

Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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UniKey Powers ERA Touchkey into UK



Unikey logo

With a string of successful smart lock products such as the Kwikset Kevo, UniKey are expanding out of the US and into other worldwide markets, but it’s not simply a case of taking a US product and selling it abroad as each country has its own size and security requirements . Don discusses the problem with Dirk from UniKey and looks at the first smartlock product from UniKey for the UK’s residential market.

The ERA Touchkey has been developed in partnership with ERA, a long established British manufacturer, to bring a smart nightlatch to the UK. The lock is really simply to use….touch the lock, the lock talks to your smartphone (which can stay in your pocket or bag), checks your credentials and opens the door if authorised. It’s clever enough to tell if the smartphone is on the inside or outside of the door, to stop the door being unlocked to intruders because your phone is nearby inside the house.

The ERA Touchkey will be available in the first half of 2016, but no details on price.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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Wistiki Tracking Tags by Philippe Stark



Wistiki LogoBluetooth tracking devices are fairly common but when the tags have been designed by Philippe Starck as “connected jewels”, it’s definitely worth taking a look. Lisa Despeyroux, Wistiki’s Communications and PR manager connects with Jamie and Daniel to tell them more about Hopla!, Voila! and Aha!

French outfit Wistiki have partnered with the famous designer, Philippe Starck, to create three shapes of tracking device (or Wistikis) in four colours. Hopla! is credit card shaped for wallets and purses, Voila! is rectangular for keychans and the oval Aha! dangles for pets or gear. Colour-wise, the choice is yellow, blue, orange and pink. It all adds up to Gallic flair!

As with most tracking systems, the Wistiki connects to an app on the smartphone and there’s a fairly standard set of features including ring, reverse ring and leash. There’s an additional neat feature where if someone finds a lost Wistiki, they can message the original owner to arrange return. And the ringtone is cool too.

The new range is launching on Indiegogo now with expected delivery in late 2016. Current perks offer six Wistikis for US$149.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast

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Essence Behaviour Analysis for the Smart Home



Essence LogoComing from a background in home securityEssence have used their understanding of monitoring to develop a range of products for the smart home to enable independent living for those people who might otherwise have difficulty looking after themselves. Jamie and Daniel find out more from Rafi Zauer, Essence Head of Marketing.

The smart home market is exploding at the moment and there are hundreds of companies peddling hubs and sensors. What sets Essence’s SmartCare apart is a focus on unobtrusive monitoring and pattern analysis to detect when a dependent person’s daily routine changes, potentially by illness, in order to alert family members to a problem.

By using PIR motion detectors and door sensors, a pattern of behaviour is built up and deviations from the pattern can be escalated to relatives to follow-up. It’s all passive detection; there are no cameras and as such this provides an important level of privacy. Data is passed to a cloud service which in turn passes alerts to an app on a tablet or smartphone.

With an increasingly older population who want to remain in their own home, these kinds of systems will be increasingly relevant.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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Dog and Bone LockSmart Padlock



Dog and Bone logoDog and Bone are more usually known for their protective range of Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphone cases, though here it’s a smartphone-controlled Bluetooth padlock that’s going to provided the protection. Jamie and Daniel find out more from Maria.

Dog and Bone’s LockSmart keyless Bluetooth padlock is exactly what it says: a padlock that uses Bluetooth communication from an app on a smartphone to unlock it. While that alone might be handy in some circumstances, the real trick is that with the app the owner can give unlocking privileges to other people. Say your bike’s padlocked to a railing in town and you want a friend to pick it up for you. You can give him (or her) the unlock permissions for the LockSmart, let him get the bike and once it’s returned, you can revoke the permissions. Definitely much handier than sharing keys or combinations. In addition, the app can manage multiple locks and receive notifications when locks are opened. Both iOS and Android devices are supported.

There’s a choice of two LockSmarts: on sale now is the larger version at US$89.95 with a mini version expected soon for US$69.95.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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AVG Protects Devices, Data and People



AVG LogoAs the online war with the bad guys escalates, the target is moving away from the devices to the people who own them. Jamie and Daniel look at this tactical shift with AVG‘s Todd Simpson.

AVG’s goal is to protect devices, data and people with a portfolio of products, from anti-virus to VPNs, parental controls to reputation protection. As more and more services come online, people are becoming more aware of the risks and securing their activities. Protecting people is a much harder problem, especially with the rise of the Internet of Things and many connected devices in every home. Things that used to be physical security, such as a door lock, become digital security problems once it’s a connected door lock that can be operated by a smartphone.

AVG’s cross-platform software is available direct from AVG and from the various app stores.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist. Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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Schlage Announces Smart Locks and Deadbolts at CES



Schlage logoAs someone who’s got the world’s most stubborn front door deadbolt lock, I’m really intrigued by the idea of smart lock technology. Just opening the door with a simple swipe of my iPhone seems a whole lot easier than struggling with my current squirrelly deadbolt. That’s why when I saw the news that venerable lock maker Scalage brought new smart locks and deadbolts to CES, I had to check it out.

Later this year, Schlage will add new features to its existing Schlage Sense line of products, including an app for Apple Watch, as well as the ability to support Android devices and additional connected home products and ecosystems.

The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt is one of the strongest, Bluetooth-enabled locks on the market, with the highest industry rating for security and durability. Compatible with Apple HomeKit, the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt allows users to control their door locks as part of their connected homes. Thru HomeKit, iOS device owners will be able to control their Schlage Sense devices using Siri.

For homeowners using Z-Wave technology, Schlage will also feature its Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt. Since its launch in 2013, the Schlage Connect deadbolt has allowed homeowners to be constantly connected to their front doors from anywhere in the world via leading Z-Wave compatible home automation systems.

The Schlage Smart Deadbolt has a suggested retail price of $229.00 and is currently available at retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s and the Apple Store.


Encryption with Pencil and Paper



1984Given that George Orwell was English, one might think the British would be all too aware of the dangers of a police state. Despite being one of the most surveilled countries in the world with one security camera for every eleven people, politicians in the UK have put forward plans to record the online activities of people in the UK and force companies like Google and Apple to break the encryption on gadgets and apps. It’s clear from both Snowden’s revelations and other sources that the UK’s security services have been routinely collecting large quantities of phone data with little legislative oversight.

As expected, the powers-that-be trot out the usual scaremongering tactics from terrorists to paedophiles, and while politicians aren’t known for their intelligence, the current proposals around encryption seem particularly stupid and at odds with experts in the fields of security and mathematics.

Encryption isn’t always that easy to understand, so this video shows a very simple but secure method for encrypting and decrypting messages using nothing more than paper and pencil. The process is a bit laborious but it illustrates how easy it is to be secure even without a computer and that any attempt to put a back door into digital encryption will only compromise the integrity of the internet for everyone.

The BBC’s “In Our Time” radio programme tackles “P v NP” this week and part of the discourse involves prime numbers and their role in encryption. It’s available as a podcast so it’s recommended listening too.

Be seeing you!