SoundVision

Cyber Security 2.0

These days, cyber security is on the forefront of our minds for a number of different reasons.  We wrote this article originally back in November of 2018, but wanted to “reboot” it as the topic of cyber security continues to rear it’s ugly head.

The cyber security concern extends to our businesses and has a global face, but it is less thought of in the way that maybe it should be MOST recognized, in our homes.  The security of our home network is PARAMOUNT to keeping our personal information safe.

Cyber security has the potential to affect our lives in ways we aren’t typically conscious of.  Let me give you an example.  There have been documented cases of hacking into networks, looking at folks medication and changing them.  Quite literally, some day, this will be a case that is brought before the courts.  Yes, it’s that scary.

The home network is the closest thing that we, as integrators, have that is necessary in your home.  You have to have electricity, plumbing and heating and air.  You do not have to have audio and video.  However, nowadays, a strong network is a must have for work, school and entertainment.  That network connects you to the outside world.  The problem is it connects the outside world to you too.

This all begs the question, “What should I be doing to make sure my family is safe?”  Herein lies the remainder of this blog post.

How is Your Cyber Health?

It seems that we’re seeing more and more “big data” breeches among major retailers and, with the holidays fast approaching and many of us shopping online, we need to be diligent to protect ourselves from cyber-crimes. Again, be smart and take every measure to ensure the security of your networks, both at home and in your business. If your infrastructure is outdated, make it a priority to upgrade now!

Password Check Up

What is your network password’s strength?  Clearly, this question is rhetorical, but it needs to be addressed.

It is critical to your network’s safety that you keep your passwords as strong as possible.  Using things like “buddy123” or “password” (that’s the actual worst btw) is just like inviting hackers in.

Even one step up in password, like your cell phone number, your favorite sports team, your kid’s names and the like are things hackers can easily find online.  These are not safe!

At SoundVision, we create passwords that are NEVER universal (meaning, we don’t use the same passwords for multiple homes), and conform to the latest in cryptography standards to ensure your network is safe!

How about updates

Another critical component to keeping your network safe is making sure all your network components, including your modem, router, switches, and access points are all kept up to date.

With the internet changing things at literally light speed, these updates come at regular intervals.  One of the biggest reason for the updates is to keep up with the latest encryption standards, which, in turn, keep hackers at bay.  Your internet service provider (ISP) takes care of the modem directly; however, someone has to be responsible for all the network components after the modem, which is where cyber security and hackers are focused.

Think of it like being the only home on a dark street that’s lit up at night.  Thieves are more likely to just go on to the next home, because it’s easier.  Having the latest security measures on your devices works the same way.

All the networks we deploy include commercial grade equipment and allow us the ability to manage them remotely, which give us the ability to help you when you need service without even coming to your home.  We can reboot devices, if needed, and even install the latest software updates remotely for you.  We can even see what your in home internet speed is, to make sure that you are getting what you pay for.  We are also notified if there are internet outages in your area.

All of this is accomplished through a safe and secure portal, protected by the encrypted password protocol mentioned above.

This is where our Service Memberships come in.  Depending on the level of service you choose, we can take all the hassle out of it for you.  We can manage everything for you and make sure your network is as safe and secure as it can be.  We also can guarantee same or next day service if there is a problem.

Give us a call at 704-696-2792 and we can set up a time to take a look at your set up.  We can recommend solutions ranging from additions to improve coverage to an entire new network that we can completely manage for you.

And look out for our upcoming YouTube videos for more on the subject of networking, WiFi and cyber security.

Protecting Your Physical and Cyber Security

In the wake of yet another horrific shooting, our personal security is again weighing on our minds. As we send our kids off to school or attend a crowded venue, or even before clicking the “place order” button on an online purchase, we’re constantly reminded of security risks. We find ourselves asking, ”What can I do”?

Stay Alert

First and foremost, we must be alert. Situational awareness is your first line of defense. Pay close attention to your surroundings and be conscious of your vulnerabilities. Take a proactive role to ensure the personal safety of your family, employees, clients and community. Install a CCTV (closed circuit television) camera system. We’ve all seen how effective doorbell cameras are; visible cameras are not only an excellent deterrent for would-be criminals but can also provide critical evidence should a crime be committed. A monitored system is invaluable as well, especially when tied in to a comprehensive life-safety and security system that includes smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, motion and glass-break detectors and window sensors. And imagine the comfort of having a single panic button to call out to police, fire fighters or paramedics.

Criminal’s Dreaded Foe

Light it up! Automated Lighting and motorized shades are an invaluable and effective deterrent for would-be criminals. Both interior and exterior landscape lighting can be programmed to imitate home occupancy, whether you’re just out for a day of shopping at Birkdale Village or traveling for weeks abroad. Integrated in to your camera system, lights can be triggered when motion is sensed with text alerts and video sent to your smart phone. Regardless of whether it’s your home, house of worship or favorite restaurant, a well-lit building and parking lot are a criminal’s worst enemy.

How is Your Cyber Health?

It seems that we’re seeing more and more “big data” breeches among major retailers and, with the holidays fast approaching and many of us shopping online, we need to be diligent to protect ourselves from cyber-crimes. Again, be smart and take every measure to ensure the security of your networks, both at home and in your business. If your infrastructure is outdated, make it a priority to upgrade now!

Be Proactive and Prepared

Finally, formulate a plan. What will you do in the event of a robbery or natural disaster? Does everyone know how to alert authorities, access fire extinguishers, engage smart door locks, etc.? Take the time to check your community’s resources and formulate a plan. If you are interested in having a complimentary assessment of your security or infrastructure systems, please contact us and we’ll get it scheduled.

Please share links to any resources you’ve found to be valuable from your school, our local law enforcement and fire departments, etc. Together, we can make our community a safer place.

Additional Reading from our blog: Put Your Smart Home to Work; Tips to keep your home safe for the holidays

 

 

 

 

 

Outsmarting Cyber Crimes Against Smart Technologies

MOORESVILLE, N.C.—Adoption of new technologies is on the rise, and so are cybersecurity threats. Gartner reports that in five years our typical households could contain several hundred smart devices. While it’s important to be cognizant of cybersecurity issues, rest assured that home automation pros are staying ahead of the bad guys to keep you and your family safe. Let’s explore the potential vulnerabilities of smart devices and measures taken to make them secure.

We’ve all heard about baby monitors being hacked, but according to Fox News contributor and CyberGuy Kurt Knutsson, the leading causes for the hacks might surprise you. The simple, avoidable reasons include: parents not changing the default password, the home Wi-Fi network password being easily-guessed and security flaws with the monitoring device itself. Knutsson’s article goes on to share steps that parents can take to deter hackers, but there are dozens of other smart devices and appliances that may not immediately come to mind and are beyond the abilities of the average DIY homeowner to secure—such as cable boxes, video game consoles and even HVAC systems. Professional-level security measures should be taken to ensure that your network is secure and that the equipment is safe and up to standards.

At SoundVision, our clients’ security is critical. In addition to working in partnership with our manufacturers, we collaborate with fellow members across the country as a CEDIA (Consumer Electronics Design & Installation Association) Electronics Systems Contractor to ensure we stay current on threats, as well as trends, in technology. To keep your systems secure from hackers, here are some precautions we recommend.

Networks:

  • ● Have a certified automation/security pro set-up an encrypted network. Always change the SSID (network name) and use the most up-to-date encryption (WPA2 currently) with a custom, strong password.
  • ● Safeguard your guest network. Establish parameters such as controlling time-of-day access, MAC (Media Access Control) addresses of specific devices and restricting the number of devices allowed.
  • ● Use only Z-wave certified equipment.
  • ● Change all factory-set passwords.
  • ● While we do not recommend that you share passwords, we do suggest you record them in a secure place. We create a passcode document for our clients, should they forget or lose them.
  • ● Use temporary passwords for occasional access.
  • ● Set up a separate network for your automation system.
  • ● If you need to allow access to various devices from outside (typically called port forwarding) such as being able to control your security or automation system via an app, never use the same inbound and outbound port.
  • ● Set up “parent/child” relationships, allowing you to share a specific username and password with access to designated devices (like the music server so your friend can stream on your system) and at the times you specify to prevent people from having access to your system without your knowledge.
  • ● A VPN (Virtual Private Network), such as Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection, is another solution. This is a “private tunnel” to give you, or anyone you deem, access to your network from anywhere in the world.

Equipment:

  • ● Never leave the generic username and password on any network device. Devices include routers and access points, as well as camera DVRs (digital video recorders), NAS (network access server) drives and any other piece of gear that resides on the network.
  • ● Replace any outdated or incompatible components.
  • ● Buy only reputable brands, which are more likely to have a high level of security and regular updates. The National Security Alliance advises “Do your research: read reviews and learn about consumers’ experiences with the products from a security and privacy perspective.”
  • ● Keep all devices updated with the most current software, and download any patches to mitigate risk.
  • ● Turn off listening devices when not in use.

Mobile:

  • ● Install security software on mobile phones and tablets used to control IoT devices.
  • ● Restrict application access on your phone. Be aware of privacy settings and sharing capabilities on apps, such as calendars, email, location and photos.
  • ● We recommend passcode apps to keep passwords secure.

First and foremost, work with a known, trusted networked home/security provider. As a CEDIA Electronics Systems Contractor, SoundVision, LLC, along with the contributing integrators listed, has access to up-to-the-minute industry news and solutions. CEDIA leverages the expertise of global technology leaders and manufacturers to educate its membership on key topics such as cybersecurity and the connected home and have recently worked in collaboration with InfoComm International to present at ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) on the subject.

Be aware, be smart and count on trusted professionals when needed.

Contributors:

Juan Apraez, CEO, All Digital, Weston, FL

Mike Chorney, President, LaScala, Vancouver, British Columbia

Peter Cook, Owner/President, Automation Design + Entertainment, Kalamazoo, MI

Eric Crawford, The Loop Technologies, Boise, ID

Tom Stone, Principal, Stone-Glidden, King of Prussia, PA

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