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The Best DIY Smart Home Security Systems for 2021 | PCMag

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It wasn’t all that long ago that having a home security system meant signing up with a company that would send a professional installer to your house to drill holes in your walls and run wires throughout your home. In most cases the equipment was free, but you had to commit to a multi-year monitoring contract as part of the deal. There are still a handful of security companies such as ADT, Slomin’s, and Vivint, that will send a consultant out to your house to configure a system specifically tailored to your home and then send a team of professionals to install everything, but more and more companies are offering do-it-yourself (DIY) home security solutions.

With DIY systems, you order everything online and the company ships you the equipment along with step-by-step installation instructions. You can monitor these systems yourself using a mobile app, but many DIY companies also offer flexible, no-contract professional monitoring plans.

Read on to find out all you need to know about buying and installing a DIY home security system.

Types of DIY Security Systems

DIY home security systems come in all shapes and sizes. Some systems come with an LCD panel that serves as the brains of the system. The panel is typically installed on a wall in a central area of your home and connects wirelessly to your home network. Most of these panels use capacitive touch screens and contain multiple radios that allow them to wirelessly control Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth sensors and home automation components. Most panels also contain a cellular radio that connects them to a monitoring center if you subscribe to a professional monitoring plan, and they almost always have a speaker and a microphone for two-way communication with a monitoring agent. The cellular radio is also used to push updates to the system.

Some companies use a hub device for system control. As with LCD panel controllers, hubs contain the circuitry and radios needed to control a variety of components, but they are typically low-profile devices designed to complement your home décor and can be placed on a bookshelf or any available flat surface.

Another type of home security controller, the all-in-one, is actually a security camera that usually contains several wireless radios, motion and sound sensors, and a siren designed to scare off uninvited guests and warn you of an intrusion. Some all-in-ones are also equipped with environmental sensors that monitor things like room temperature, humidity, and air quality.

As with just about every smart home device out there, many DIY security systems can be armed and disarmed using Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. Many also offer support for IFTTT applets that will allow them to do things like turn lights on when there is an alarm, change thermostat settings when armed, and automatically turn on when you leave home.

DIY Security System Components

Before ordering your DIY system you have to figure out what kind of sensors you want and how many you need. Ideally you’ll place door sensors on every doorway into your house. You’ll also want to put a window sensor on every window, or at least every window that’s large enough to provide access to your home. You don’t have to install a motion sensor in every room in the house, but you should place them in main hallways, stairways, foyers, or any place where an intruder would have to walk through while entering or exiting your home.

There are several types of motion sensors out there, the most common being PIR (passive infrared) sensors that detect body heat. These are ideal for home security use as they are cost effective and work well indoors in any lighting environment. Active motion sensors emit microwaves to detect movement and are better suited to harsh environments, including outdoor use, but are prone to false alerts due to wind-blown debris. A dual motion sensor combines both active and passive technology to reduce false alerts and provide an extra measure of reliability.

Many DIY security systems offer indoor and outdoor cameras that will record video when motion or sound is detected. Some cameras will store the video locally and some will store it in the cloud and usually require a cloud subscription to access the recordings.

Video doorbells are also an option for DIY systems. These devices will record video when the doorbell ringer is pressed or when motion is detected, and in most cases can be programmed to trigger other system devices such as door locks and interior cameras.

Other components include flood/freeze sensors, thermostats, sirens, glass break sensors, smoke and CO detectors, and key fobs.

Self Monitoring vs. Professional Monitoring

Nearly all DIY systems can be self-monitored using a mobile app that allows you to arm and disarm the system remotely, monitor sensor status, and view live and recorded video. You’ll get push alerts (and in some cases email notifications) when a sensor is triggered, but it’s up to you to contact the local authorities if there’s a break-in or a fire.

However, many DIY vendors are now offering professional monitoring services; some require a contract and some allow you to pay as you go so you’re only being monitored when you need it, such as when you’re away on vacation. With professional monitoring you’ll still receive alerts, but the monitoring center will try to contact you as well. If they can’t reach you or someone on your emergency contact list, they will have the local authorities respond to the alarm.

DIY Security System Installation

DIY systems are typically easy to install, but you’ll have to give some thought as to the placement of the hub, sensors, and security cameras. Some hubs will require a wired connection to your router, while others use Wi-Fi to connect to your home network. Either way, the hub should be in close proximity to your router for optimal connectivity. If you’re installing a system with a touch-screen panel, make sure there’s a power outlet nearby.

Once you’ve installed the hub and mobile app, it’s time to start installing the sensors. More often than not, the door/window sensors and motion sensors are pre-paired to the hub so all you have to do is remove a battery tab to activate the sensor, tap Add a Device in the app, and name the sensors (front door, back door, etc.).

Physically installing the sensors is easy as they use double-sided adhesive tape and can simply be pressed into place in seconds. Cameras and doorbells are also easy to install, but you’ll have to pair them yourself. Fortunately, nearly all of these devices offer detailed instructions and voice prompts to help you add them to the system without much effort.

How Much Do DIY Security Systems Cost?

Pricing for DIY security systems varies from company to company and will depend on the size of your home and the number of sensors and add-on components that you order.

For example, the $229 SimpliSafe Foundation is a starter kit that gives you the hub, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor, and a yard sign. Additional door/window sensors go for $14.99 each and you can order glass break detectors for $34.99 each, smoke detectors for $29.99 each, and water sensors for $19.99 each.

Professional monitoring prices also vary from company to company. Ring offers one of the better deals around: For $10 per month you get 24/7 monitoring with police and fire department dispatch, full remote use of the mobile app, and unlimited cloud storage for your Ring cameras. SimpliSafe’s monitoring plan goes for $14.99 and gives you 24/7 monitoring with emergency dispatch, but you’ll pay an extra $10 per month for remote use of the mobile app and to receive email and push alerts. Access to recorded video costs another $4.99 per month per camera.

Check out our reviews for more detailed pricing information, as well as the specific components, monitoring options, and installation instructions for each home security system we’ve tested. And for more, head over to ExtremeTech’s guide on how to get started with DIY home alarm and security systems.

This content was originally published here.

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

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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

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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
https://informationsecuritybuzz.com/expert-comments/iot-security-in-the-spotlight-as-research-highlights-alexa-security-flaws

@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
https://informationsecuritybuzz.com/expert-comments/iot-security-in-the-spotlight-as-research-highlights-alexa-security-flaws

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

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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.

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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.

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