Westpoint Exeter Sat 6th Sun 7th April 2019
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The Spy in Our Homes, How to Prevent Our Privacy Being Invaded

Connectivity to our world has a huge array of advantages; working from home has never been easier – we can check that family members are ok, keep our homes safe, shop from the comfort of our sofa, download our favourite music & films – the possibilities are endless. But how many of us give consideration to our personal privacy?

Over the last few years, there have been an increasing number of articles on how everyday items, like our TVs, can ‘listen’ to conversations within the home and even alert a third party!

In 2016, Amazon Alexa joined Apple Siri in the voice-activated market and new devices are constantly being introduced to the market, ie:  TVs, games consoles and appliances.  Voice activation is a quick and easy way to access information, music, videos etc. without the need to stop what you are doing.  However, in order for them to work effectively they are permanently switched ‘on’.  Increasingly experts have recognised that if information can be downloaded, then information can be taken up too, so they not only capture your commands, but all spoken words too!

Our written words are also accessible.  For example, Google Gmail has the ability to monitor every one of your email messages, works out the goods you may want to buy and will target you accordingly.  Many of the Apps and mail servers can be accessible to unwanted interest as they pass through unknown servers, routers and devices.

With the availability of wi-fi, we have more items connected to the home network than ever before:  laptops, gaming consoles, TVs, phones, tablets, CCTV, lighting control and thermostats like Nest, all access the wireless network and are capable of being hacked!

So what can we do to protect our privacy from these “All seeing, All hearing’ devices?

A robust, reliable network is a must in any home.  This will require the installation of a router and some strategically placed wireless access points (network boosters) to support connectivity throughout the home.

What I particularly like about it is that not only do Ruckus offer ‘best in class’ performance, creating a mesh which allows signal steering to give better connectivity where it is needed, but it has the highest level of security available, protecting your home from unwanted users or interest.

A router is key to managing unwanted access, allowing data transfer to access appropriate devices and stopping unwanted data.  To enhance router security, your router needs a unique username and password.  A firewall must also be installed to protect all connected devices to watch out for attempts to access and block sources not permitted.

Encryption is essential for the router and is part of the technology many of us use on a daily basis – Apple iPhones, WhatsApp and many others all use end-to-end encryption so that only users see the information.  End-to-end encryption scrambles the information so that as your data passes through unknown servers and devices, it is impossible to read; when it reaches the rightful recipient it is transformed to its original format.

One of the biggest problems we encounter is that clients purchase an item, but forget to regularly update the firmware – this not only leads to performance issues but is can affect the quality of security.  One of the issues with this type of security is that the sophistication and capabilities are constantly changing, so we need to be vigilant that we update to ensure the latest technology.

You can set up VPNs (Virtual Private Network) so people have the ability to securely connect to home devices remotely. VPNs allow you to encrypt the information going to and from your devices, so that you can create a private connection between you and your home network.  This means you can check and adjust cameras, temperature, curtains/blinds and lighting without worrying that someone else can do the same thing!

This blog was provided by Karen Chugg of Intelligent Abodes.