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Monday, April 17, 2017
Problems with home security & technology
Go into any home in today's world, and you'll likely find some form of technology. Whether it's a smartphone, a baby monitor, surround sound speakers, or a security system, we now rely heavily on technology to help us complete tasks, to entertain us, to keep us safe, and so on.
With the increased intelligence of technology, we're able to do things that were never thought imaginable. While this has taken us to new heights in the world of discovery, the growing intelligence of technology has also become increasingly involved in our personal lives. Not only do we use technology to call friends, plan meetings, and send files, but we also use our phones, laptops, and iPads to hold documents, store passwords, and track our locations.
In the grand scheme of things, it seems that the convenience of technology is too good to give up for a little added safety. However, the more we rely on technology, the more our protection is weakened. If you're curious about how home technology is having an effect on our level of protection, the following are some of the problems that arise with home technology and security.
One of the biggest issues with home technology and security is that it has the potential to be broken into by online hackers. Regardless of how large or small a system is, hackers have the ability to breach even the most complicated systems where they can steal information, take money, and create irreversible damage for lots of people.
In 2016, there were over 2 billion records stolen by hackers before the year was even over. Some of the biggest companies in the world had to deal with compromised accounts, including LinkedIn and MySpace, where confidential passwords were sold and over 117 million accounts were hacked. So, what does any of this mean for home technology and home security? Essentially, if billion-dollar companies can get hacked into, chances are your phone or tablet is going to be a cinch to break into.
For all of the people who rely on their home technology to get them through the day, it's likely that sensitive information is being saved on these tech toys, putting lots of people at risk. Information such as their home location, garage code, and even security system passwords are often saved within home technology, which can often be breached and shared publicly. Burglars who need only a few pieces of information to grant themselves access into your home will have no trouble if you're not smart about your technology and personal information.
For those people who are not technological hackers but who are experienced with break-ins, a lot of the personal information mentioned is just as accessible to them via public access. Whether it's a social media platform like Facebook or a location tool like Google Maps, any account that is set to Public is exposed to prying eyes.
This is why it is so important for home technology to be used intelligently, which will require users to install privacy settings and to only allow certain users to view their information. Anyone with a public profile can easily share information about their whereabouts, home location, etc. with viewers who have other intentions for the information.
The following are some of the accessible pieces of information that should be blocked or kept to a minimum to ensure the safety of your household members and everything within the home.
Many of our iPads and smartphones are equipped with a feature known as "Location Services," and, if you're not familiar with the feature, there's a good chance you're sharing your location without even knowing it.
Essentially, your phones and tablets get your permission to allow apps and websites to gather information from your Wi-Fi, GPS networks, and Bluetooth to determine your approximate location at any given time. For many people, this is a fun feature that displays where they are when they send tweets, take photos, perform live streams, etc.
While a location finder is most helpful when you're using a GPS tracker to get directions, having a location finder on at any other time can be very harmful to your security. For example, a family who posts about their week-long trip location is handing out valuable information about their empty house and for how long it will be empty. Similarly, anyone who does live streams might be sharing enticing information for thieves about what they have in their household or that the house is currently empty.
All of the things we share online in a public forum are accessible to people both near and far. Surprisingly, it is more common for a burglar to be someone who lives in your area than to live farther away. You may consider this person a friend or neighbor; however, if they can see where you are and know where you live, your home is exposed to potential theft or damage.
It's best to go into your settings on all of your home technology and ensure that location services are turned off. You can turn these services back on when you're comfortable or leave them off at all times to ensure your phone isn’t being tracked.
Live streaming is one of the newest features in our home technology that can be used on laptops, phones, and iPads. The idea is for users to upload video footage of their current whereabouts, and it has become very popular for users of all ages.
The trouble with live streaming is that it serves to inform watchers where the user is and, often, shares information about what they're doing, whether they're at home, and what kinds of valuables can be seen in the area. This kind of feature is very limited when it comes to security precautions, and many people are not careful enough when it comes to sharing live information.
For hackers, burglars, and unwanted viewers, live streaming can be a technological tool to get them up-to-the-minute information about a home and whether the owners are present or not. While many adults have the proper decision-making skills to keep their exact location a secret, children often struggle with the parameters of live streaming and can give away personal information about their whereabouts, home locations, routes to school, etc.
This kind of home technology is most certainly a factor when it comes to security. For those families with children, it's even more important to have family discussions about safe technology practices and why it's important for kids to maintain the privacy settings their parents set for them.
Social Media Updates and Statuses
Social media use has the power to connect us with friends and family all over the world, and, for the most part, it's one of the greatest solutions to long-distance communication. While there are many great things about social media, this home technology can also be a culprit of home security problems.
Social media types come in a variety of forms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Many of these platforms require users to upload locations, photography, audio, video, and messages to let others know about their personal life.
Sharing this personal information between small groups of friends can be fun; however, giving access to those who may be looking for an easy home target can end in disaster for homeowners. Updates are usually to-the-minute, and profiles that are public can often give information about the homeowner's whereabouts in a status, photo, or video. It is crucial that social media users are always updating their passwords and making them unique, as well as going through their settings to ensure their information is private.
It's also a good idea for social media users to go through their current followers, to ensure that they know everyone or have a specific relationship with them that they can trust. While many people prefer to increase their followers by going public, this kind of security breach is not worth the attention.
Audio and Video Output
One of the other great ways for people to stay connected is by using audio and video outputs on their laptops and cell phones to communicate. Programs such as Skype are live-streaming video applications, which users can install to speak with friends, organize work meetings, or share visual information.
While Skype is a great program for communication, its security walls are not quite as impressive. For many users, daily hacks are a constant reminder that not even the hardest password or security question can keep spammers and hackers out of their account. Some Skype users who have been hacked have expressed how easy it is for spammers to guess their security questions, thereby gaining access to their e-mail and changing their passwords.
Once a spammer can get into your Skype account, they can then access all of your other contacts as well. It's a serious problem, but it's also not the only one. For hackers, laptops are incredibly helpful for
gaining knowledge about a home and what it contains. Once a hacker gets into a laptop, they can manipulate the camera settings and turn the lens on again, even when the user doesn't have it turned on.
With this kind of breach, a hacker or spammer can gain visuals of the home, including its layout and the valuables that it possesses. It's also possible for hackers to override the microphone and audio in a laptop, which means that any conversations can be heard even when the laptop is closed. Home security can be breached and break-ins are much easier if a burglar can get information about the home ahead of time.
Solutions to the Problems with Home Technology & Security
It would be unrealistic to suggest that all homeowners set aside their technology and start sending snail mail again. Technology has done many great things for this world, and it would be impossible to revert back to simpler times.
Unfortunately, with this great power comes a lot of responsibility. Companies who are coming out with these new features, apps, and programs need to seriously consider the security problems that could arise, and they need to make them known to potential users ahead of time.
If you're trying to find solutions to problems with your home technology, the first thing you'll want to do is re-set your passwords, making each one unique and strong. It is also very important to try to refrain from saving these passwords on your phone and, instead, have them written down on a piece of paper and store that paper somewhere in the home where you won't forget.
If the program you're using has security questions, you'll want to be as creative with these as possible, as well. Make sure that the information you're using is not accessible anywhere else on your social media platforms, such as maiden names, dog's names, or previous schools.
Even if you do have a security breach with your home technology, the next step in protecting your home is investing in a home security system. A quality system will be your best defense against burglars, and modern systems will be able to notify the correct authorities at the first sign of theft, damage, or potential break-ins. Systems like these can also notify authorities about potential fires, hot spots, and smoke, so the added benefits of investing in this type of system are worth the investment to protect loved ones and possessions.
If you're looking for ways to improve the security of your home, take some time to go through all of your devices and apply the information provided, such as turning off location services and keeping your profiles private. Everyone in your home should be educated about the possibilities of security breaches through technology and informed about the ways that they can avoid these kinds of problems.