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Smart home tech: Which smart locks are best for security?



It’s been a year now since we first compared Schlage to Kwikset, and we’ve gone on to test a number of different locks that were sent to us from various manufactures.

We documented our installation process and tested them out in real world environments for about six months, taking note of what worked well and any issues we had, like jamming. This week, we’ll be talking about the locks we tested — plus a few tips on keeping your home safe

Jason Williams, president of ASSA ABLOY’s Smart Residential Group that includes popular smart lock brands Yale Home and August, has provided top tips on how to keep your home safe.

1. Make front door access secure and convenient

A smart lock can give homeowners a peace of mind, security and convenience over home access. It also means no more hiding keys under the mat or worrying if you locked the door before you headed out.

All you have to do is simply control the lock, and monitor every entry and exit right from your phone. When considering a smart lock, there are several features to examine:

Retrofit vs. replacement

You first need to decide if you want a retrofit lock (only replaces existing deadbolt from the inside, which means you can keep your current keys!) or one that requires full deadbolt replacement.

For apartment dwellers and renters, retrofit locks like the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, (also consider Wyze Lock or Kwisket Convert) are perfect, as they give you all the perks of a smart lock while still allowing landlords or maintenance crews to enter with their existing keys.

If you own your home, it may be worth checking out a full replacement deadbolt with an integrated keypad. While these require a deadbolt replacement, keypad locks provide a minimalist solution with all the same great features. You can easily distribute temporary PIN codes or access for family, friends, guests and service providers.

Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave or Wi-Fi connectivity

If you would like to control your lock remotely (if you’re traveling or running a vacation rental property), then you should get a Wi-Fi-enabled lock or one that’s connected via a hub. This will allow you to unlock, lock, check the door status and be notified of any activity all from your phone, from anywhere in the world.

Wi-Fi connection will also let you integrate your lock with existing security systems, hosting platforms (e.g., Airbnb) and voice assistants. If you are only planning to operate the lock locally with your phone — such as from within your house, with an external keypad, or with auto-unlock upon arrival — then you can opt for Bluetooth only. 

From push buttons to touchpads and from oil-rubbed bronze to satin nickel, smart locks come in all shapes, sizes and finishes — so make sure it fits your overall home aesthetic. Design is important to lock makers too! 

2. Secure access inside your home

People typically think of outfitting only exterior doors with smart locks, but interior doors can be upgraded too. From basements and home offices to spare rooms for guests, interior smart locks like the Yale Assure Lever (which has a keypad) can provide extra security, convenience and privacy within the home. 

3. Keep an eye on everything — even while away

If you’re nervous about leaving your home unattended while away (either on a short or long-term trip), be sure to get a connected smart lock that offers an activity feed. You can see anytime a user locks or unlocks your door or when an entry code is created for a new user. You can also create a unique entry code for visitors or just monitor who’s coming and going.

4. Enable hands-free access

If you’re always juggling groceries or want to encourage a more contactless lifestyle this season, consider a smart lock that doesn’t require hands-on operation. For example, many smart locks have an auto-unlock feature that intuitively unlocks the door when you approach it, without you having to reach for your phone or keys.

You can also control them with your voice, integrating the lock with Amazon Alexa, Siri or the Google Assistant, so you can lock, unlock (requires an extra PIN code) or check the lock status with simple vocal commands. 

5. Consider how to safeguard items and areas in and around your home

It’s not just doors that need to be secured! From alcohol cabinets to cleaning supplies, home office valuables to package deliveries, look for ways to protect items in and around the home as well.

The Yale Smart Cabinet Lock, for example, is designed for cabinets and drawers, and can help keep children and guests away from medicine, liquor and other sensitive items. It’s a small device (about the size of an AirPods case) that can turn any cabinet or drawer into a locker. It mounts on the inside, making it invisible from the outside.

The Yale Smart Delivery Box is an external, non-entry way to protect packages from theft and harsh weather — perfect for the influx of deliveries that may be arriving through the year. These also integrate with voice assistants for hands-free operation. 

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on YouTube or Facebook.

This content was originally published here.

Home Security

Precision agriculture using AI and IoT to usher in the next revolution in food security



Micromanagement of every aspect of the field being used for your crops is called precision agriculture. It includes mapping of the field in terms of disparities within the field or with other fields around it, the sun light variation across the year, wind patterns, rain predictions and other seasonal effects. To do that, feed from weather stations, Remote sensing equipment, GIS and GPS may be used.

Another key feature of precision farming is having a trained software module on the specific crop being planned in that field. This software module has an understanding about the growth patterns of that crop, possible diseases that are related to that crop, prescriptions of specific fertilizer or pesticides depending upon the disease pattern, and prediction of disease depending upon the growth of leaves or size or colour of the plant.

It uses feed sensors, weight sensors, soil sensors, temperature sensors, intensity sensors and multiple types of cameras. All these sensors may be deployed on a machine. This machine can be a low flying drone or a small robot moving through the field. Based on the crop and the size of the plants, the robot height and size can be manoeuvred. This robot or drone will have multiple compartments full of different ingredients required for the plants. One box may contain water, another may have pesticides, another may have fertilizer and so on. Based on the real feedback of different sensors, the software module will process that information according to the trained AI model installed on that robot or drone. Depending upon the necessary trigger, instructions will follow, and the robot will discharge specific amount of pesticides or fertilizer or water etc.

This whole mechanism may look like a complex process for small and medium level farmers, but that is not the case. Just like farmers currently hire big machines for sowing and cutting the crops, they will be able to hire different kinds of robots for their specific crops. Initially the cost will be high, but eventually, when this becomes a standard practice, the cost will come down with volume and scale.

The end user will not be required to understand or learn about these complex systems. They will just employ these systems like we use washing machines without understanding the mechanical engineering behind their working. The farmer will only need to follow some simple and clear instructions and press a few buttons.

While its execution will be simple, the advantages of precision farming are many and varied. End-to-end efficiency and decrease in wastage/loss of the yield due to disease etc will lead to an increase in crop-yield. Another advantage is the huge saving in inputs: currently, farmers waste a lot of water, pesticides, and fertilizers because these are thrown all over the field, a significant portion of which is not used by the plants. With robots in the field, only the required resources will be given near the roots of the plants, which will save a lot of resources. It will also result in a lot of data inputs across the fields, regions, and geographies, which will result in better policy decision regarding which crops to be promoted, pricing of the output, availability of markets for the produce, value enhancement products in the food chain etc.

Many people may be worried about the impact of such technologies on the job market for agriculture workers. It will result in net additional jobs in this sector. Many hands will be required for maintenance, operations, storage, production, marketing of these variety of robots and drones. The only challenge is that existing agriculture workers will be required to undergo training to work on these modern machines, which will require huge efforts on the part of the trainers as well as the farmers. So, in conclusion precision farming is going to be the next big thing in the domain of agriculture which will have significant impact on economy, food reliance and modern society.




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IoT Security In The Spotlight, As Research Highlights Alexa Security Flaws | Information Security Buzz



Last week, IoT security was in the spotlight again as researchers warned that Amazon’s Alexa is vulnerable to malicious third-party apps, or “skills”, that could leave owners at risk of a wide range of cyberattacks.

Researchers analyzed 90,194 unique skills from Amazon’s skill stores across seven countries and found widespread security issues that could lead to phishing attacks or the ability to trick Alexa users into revealing sensitive information.

For instance, developers can register skills that fraudulently use well-known company names, and leverage these fake brand names to send out phishing emails that link to the skill’s Amazon store webpage. Attackers can also make code changes after their skills have been approved by Amazon, opening the door for various malicious configurations.

VP of IoT
Best-practices for IoT device security include strong authentication and secure software updates.

Continued innovation in the Internet of Things technology has propelled us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is undoubtedly valuable for consumers and businesses alike.

However, as this research into Alexa’s vulnerabilities has shown, we can’t be oblivious to the security risks that go hand-in-hand with introducing such a large number of devices into the ecosystem. Left unchecked, this presents a huge security risk. While there are many potential threats to IoT devices, a common


Continued innovation in the Internet of Things technology has propelled us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is undoubtedly valuable for consumers and businesses alike.

However, as this research into Alexa’s vulnerabilities has shown, we can’t be oblivious to the security risks that go hand-in-hand with introducing such a large number of devices into the ecosystem. Left unchecked, this presents a huge security risk. While there are many potential threats to IoT devices, a common thread in IoT security weakness is the lack of strong authentication.

As attack vectors continue to evolve, it is increasingly critical that organizations embrace security solutions that ensure the integrity and security of their IoT systems. Best-practices for IoT device security include strong authentication and secure software updates – ensuring only authentic code can be installed on the device. For a complex system such as Alexa’s Skills that involve the Alexa platform, third-party apps and third-party cloud services – a comprehensive approach to ensuring the security of the ecosystem is essential.

@Alan Grau, VP of IoT , provides expert commentary for “dot your expert comments” at @Information Security Buzz.
“Best-practices for IoT device security include strong authentication and secure software updates….”
#infosec #cybersecurity #isdots

@Alan Grau, VP of IoT , provides expert commentary for “dot your expert comments” at @Information Security Buzz.
“Best-practices for IoT device security include strong authentication and secure software updates….”
#infosec #cybersecurity #isdots

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Home Security

Is Biden’s Peloton Bike an IoT Cybersecurity Risk? – Security Boulevard



Is Every Connected Device in a Staffer’s Home an IoT Cybersecurity Risk?

Most folks are still working from home at least some of the time. That creates a number of challenges for IT departments around cybersecurity and smart devices. As our lives become ever more connected to the internet through everything from smartphones to smart bikes, it’s important to remember that even the most humble internet-connected device can be a security risk. Many business IT teams are still coming to terms with that increased Internet-of-Things (IoT) cybersecurity risk and how to mitigate it.

If Cybersecurity is Like a Game, Shouldn’t You Play to Win? Here’s How to Do It.

IoT Devices (and Risks) Are Proliferating

During the last year, as we all spent more time at home, many folks discovered that they could make their home lives a little more pleasant with IoT devices. Experts estimate that more than 26.66 billion IoT devices are active in 2020, with 127 new IoT devices connecting to the internet every second. However, researchers also report that IoT devices face 5,200 attacks a month. That means that organizations need to keep IoT security top of mind as their security posture evolves.

Including the White House. The original work from home example, the President’s House is also home to one of the world’s most secure and sensitive networks. As new First Families with an increasing number of IoT devices move in, like President Biden and his Peloton bike, the White House cybersecurity team is faced with the same dilemma as many businesses: how to secure their IT environment against the potential risk.

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How to Mitigate the Risk

In the case of the President’s bike, the Secret Service and the National Security Agency (NSA) will make changes to both the physical structure and the IT capability as well as enacting strong access control policies and tools in order to mitigate the risk. Cameras and microphones will be removed, and a constant series of password changes will help blunt the possibility of foreign agents hacking into President Biden’s Peloton. This tracks with the advice given by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

But most companies don’t need to go that far when securing their environments against IoT risks. Businesses can keep their networks safe and employees can enjoy their IoT devices without taking drastic measures or spending a fortune. While cybercrime risks continue to climb across the board, by taking sensible precautions, organizations can secure their systems and data from many of the pitfalls that arise from remote working IoT cybersecurity risks quickly and affordably.

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Add a Universal Mitigation Now

One key to mitigating IoT risk and remaining cyber resilient as an organization is maintaining strong access point control. It’s not just a fantastic mitigation for IoT risk either. Strong access point control is essential for mitigating all types of cybersecurity risk – and secure identity and access management with a solution like Passly is an effective, cost-effective way to implement it in a flash.

Passly brings major weapons against intrusion to the fight with multifactor authentication (MFA), single sign-on (SSO), and secure shared password vaults. MFA is a must-have in today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape – it has been proven to block up to 99.9% of common cyberattacks from getting through to business systems. Back that up with single sign-on that empowers your IT team to add and remove permissions fast in case of compromise and secure shared password vaults to make sure that your team can easily respond to emergencies remotely, and you’ve added a huge amount of security strength for a small price.

Contact ID Agent’s experts today to add Passly to your security stack or watch a video of Passly in action to see why it’s perfect for every business.

The Post-Pandemic Dark Web is a Whole New World of Danger. It’s Still Our Backyard. Let Us Show You Around.

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