Security researchers have recently published a wireless exploit titled “Key Reinstallation Attacks” (abbreviated as KRACK), indicating users of any wireless device currently face a severe security risk.
This vulnerability affects any device that uses the Wireless Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security mechanism. WPA2 is currently the industry’s most popular and recommended security standard for 802.11 wireless networks.
In some cases, this vulnerability may allow an attacker to manipulate data on a Wi-Fi network, or inject new data. This means hackers could steal user passwords and financial data, or even manipulate commands to wire money to themselves.
Please note: an attacker needs to be physically in range of a target Wi-Fi network to carry out the attacks.
To prevent possible attacks, you must update affected devices as soon as security updates become available.
To reiterate, every Wi-Fi device is affected by this vulnerability. This includes end-user devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops; as well as IoT products like smart thermostats, fridges, locks, etc.
If you are concerned about the KRACK wireless exploit, please note that it affects your mobile devices and IoT devices on any network you connect to. You should use wireless networks with caution until each device manufacturer issues an update and it has been applied.
Therefore, you should take these defensive steps:
Update your personal devices to latest firmware as soon as it becomes available.
Make sure your frequently visited sites (e.g. Facebook) and financial services websites (e.g. banks) show a lock on the browser tab to indicate a secure connection.
Be aware of who is using your Wi-Fi network since any potential attack must be issued within physical range of the network.
Technology is sleek and elegant. Some elements are meant to be seen; touch panels, exquisitely framed displays, speakers that are as jaw-droppingly gorgeous as they sound. And then there’s the behind-the-scenes components; the receivers, amplifiers, switchers…all the things with the blinky lights that you either showcase or hide away. Either way, they all live somewhere and that somewhere has requirements.
Technology systems are comprised of various electronic components that require power and inherently produce heat. Like your laptop or other electronic devices, they need proper ventilation for optimal and reliable performance. Not all furniture is suitable to house electronics.
Choices for housing audio video gear are numerous and offer sleek solutions for managing cables, providing air-flow and allowing IR signal visibility when required. Regardless of whether your components are stored in a dedicated equipment rack in a storage closet or in a highly visible media center or credenza in-room, purpose-built AV furniture will provide these features.
AV equipment racks are available in various heights, measured in rack spaces or units, depending on the requirement of the components. They can be installed on swing-out mounts, inside of a media cabinet or placed on casters for ease of accessibility when servicing. For extensive systems, multiple racks may be needed. Racks can be placed in the room or located in an off-area such as a centrally located, climate-controlled closet. Some installations will require forced ventilation through the use of thermostatic rack fans that will draw heat from the gear. When gear is stored in an enclosed unit, it is imperative that air be allowed to flow so that the heat can dissipate.
Wireless does not equal cord-free
The beauty of integrated systems is, well, the integration; all the systems “talking” to each other. Talking equals connectivity and connectivity equals cabling and cords, including wireless solutions. While wireless gear and speakers offer elegant, wire-free signal, electronics still require power. AV furniture provides access to the components as well as rails or channels for tidy wire management.
Once the cabling leaves the rack or unit, the best path for wire runs needs to be determined, along with factoring in the length of the run and calculating conduit specifications. This is where we shine. We’ve got the tools and know-how to get cables from point A to Point B with minimal impact while factoring in future demands and incorporating the unattractive wires into an aesthetically pleasing (or invisible) design).
Depth is also a consideration when placing components. In addition to allowing some space for airflow, connecters and cables add to the depth required for the back of the gear. At a minimum, plan for a depth of 20”. Knobs and control access are also a factor for various reasons. First, units with doors need suitable clearance to close properly and second, if the system is IR-controlled, a clear line-of-sight must be established otherwise an IR distribution system will be required.
Gaming consoles and media storage present additional considerations. Game consoles give off considerably more heat than AV equipment and, while gaming consoles are RF (radio frequency which does not require line of sight) allowing for entertainment unit doors to remain closed, gamers still need convenient access to the unit to charge their controllers. And even though it seems the thing to do, Media should be stored separately from electronic equipment so the heat does not affect the digital content.
Customization and communication
While audio/video racks and entertainment units are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, custom units are frequently sought. Some embrace the high-tech electronics and incorporate the sophisticated gear into the room’s design through custom-framed racks that face the interior. We love this approach but advise that they be installed at the back of room so as not to be a distraction while viewing an LED display or projection screen. Another popular solution is that of the “floating” shelves or enclosed media unit. For any of your custom work, we can provide you or your interior design professional with detailed drawings and/or dimensions for millwork. We will also communicate with your electrician or other trade where power drops need to be located.
The Form vs. Function Battle is Over
Today’s purpose-built AV furniture – credenzas, entertainment centers and glass étagères -will offer proper ventilation, accessibility to components and elegant wire management. We’ll determine the space requirements and share with you and your designer a variety of elegant choices or, when a custom solution is desired, provide the details needed to create the perfect solution for your home or office technology.
We’ve recently talked about getting together to assess your home’s technology systems. It’s always a good idea to make sure you’re up to date of the latest technologies available and how to implement new devices now or in the near future. The other key to satisfaction with your technology systems is ensuring their technical health. Simple things, such as cleaning components in the equipment rack, go a long way in preventing equipment from overheating. And then there’s the not-so-fun stuff like changing the batteries in the smoke detectors of your 10’ or 20’ soaring ceilings. Part 2 of our annual Tech-Up addresses the advantages in having a preventative maintenance plan. With either our Pro Service or Pro Care plans, we will come out and take care of any of these items. Our plans include unlimited service with just the cost of a $35 trip charge. Whether we are there for one hour or one day, that’s all you pay with one of our service plans.
Proper digital health requires a regular checkup and some TLC
While everything may be running smoothly, it’s possible you’re due for a firmware or software update that could potentially activate new, desirable features. We’ll put your network and systems through a thorough test to ensure functionality and make necessary security updates. We’ll also check to make sure everything is properly connected to your network, preventing trouble down the road.
We suggest you make a note of any questions you’d like to ask during the service call and be sure to advise us of any new devices, features or systems you’re interested in learning about or adding.
An Ounce of Prevention
To optimize your enjoyment and satisfaction and to prolong the life of your system for years to come, we offer our Pro Care Plan. The Plan is available in 2 tiers of service to proactively monitor and maintain your systems. Each tier features extraordinary “Bumper to Bumper” Protection with varying years of coverage, allowing you to select the plan that fits your needs and budget. The beauty of our plans are that the labor is ALWAYS covered. You simply pay a $35 trip charge. That’s it. The difference in Pro Service and Pro Care is your equipment. If you want to make sure your equipment is completely covered over the life of the plan (Pro Care comes in 3-year and 5-year flavors), we can do that too!
We understand that from time-to-time, equipment will fail. Our goal is zero system downtime and 100% client satisfaction. That’s why our plans offer preventative care and remote features including unlimited remote resets of your gear and proactive service with direct access to the network and key equipment.
A Healthy Network makes a Happy Home
A maintenance visit with a Pro Care plan includes:
Thorough check of all systems. We will turn on, test and put each system through its complete operation to ensure it is fully functioning and operational.
Firmware and software updates for all system components.
Change out batteries on any devices that require them.
Check all remote control systems to ensure proper operations. Any MINOR programming issues will be addressed.
Your home technology is a part of your everyday life. We want you and your family to get the most out of it and we want you to know we’re here to help. We’d love to hear from you – please call us with any questions or to schedule your maintenance visit today!
Clients can expect a response to emails by noon the following business day. For more immediate support, please call (704) 696-2792 extension 2 for Service
Send us your contact info and we will contact you to discuss our custom membership option.