(BPT) - Resourceful thieves and cybercriminals continue to find new ways to hack U.S. consumers’ sensitive personal information. Dumpster diving, stolen or lost wallets and mail fraud should still be concerns, but the digital age of tablets, smartphones, PCs and Wi-Fi networks leaves people more vulnerable than ever.
Have you ever stored credit card information on your phone for added convenience to make payments in a checkout lane? Do you ever store passwords in apps to transfer funds between accounts? And what’s to keep hackers from accessing a wireless network you check your email on while you’re grabbing a quick cup of coffee?
”More than 15.4 million people a year will experience identity theft, with an average loss of more than $1,000,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance’s director of product management. “When one access point closes due to added levels of security, cyberattackers find another. Insurance companies like Mercury provide services that allow homeowners and renters to enjoy the convenience of accessing their connected devices at home and on the go, while also helping to protect customers from the potentially devastating effects of criminal infiltration, cyberextortion and identity theft.”
The following five do’s and don’ts can help stop criminals in their tracks and protect your connected devices, as well as your electronic identity.
Li recommends homeowners and renters speak with their local insurance agent to learn more about the endorsements they may be able to add to existing policies to help safeguard their finances if their identities are compromised or connected devices are attacked.
“It can be daunting to try to regain your financial footing if a criminal takes advantage of you,” said Li. “Insurance exists to help protect consumers from unexpected events and, in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
We all know that our military personnel works hard to keep the United States and help keep the world safe. However, it’s easy for the general public to take advantage of the technology that the military has brought about for granted. These three ways that military technology has made the world safer for all of us.
Bollards Protect People and Property
Most people have seen bollards used in public but are unaware of the role they play in public safety. Even though these posts may seem decorative in nature, they keep vehicles away from pedestrians and buildings in a certain area. These posts can be very valuable in preventing further damage during an accident. Bollards have major importance in preventing vehicular terrorist attacks that involve ramming. According to Atlas Security, the most deadly vehicular attack was the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, which killed more than 80 people. With such attacks remaining a threat, the role that these structures can play in preventing further such attacks is vital.
Sensors Protect Soldiers and Civilians
According to The Heritage Foundation, sensors have played an important part in guiding weapons and detecting hostile forces. Drones are an example of how sensors help provide information that command centers and troops in the field need. One of the outcomes of using this technology is keeping more soldiers and other service members safe. Another major impact that these technology systems offer is helping to protect civilians from attacks. A real-life application of this technology is in the GPS systems that many electronics use today. Information that these systems collect makes it easier to relay necessary information to first responders, as an example.
Advanced Communication Systems Protect Everyone
According to the Defense Systems blog, military operations have always involved an important emphasis on communications. Both military members and civilians are at risk when communications systems are inadequate. Advanced communications systems should prevent interference from hackers to prevent the disruption that such threats can cause. One example of advanced communications that everyone can identify with is the Internet. Even though most civilians don't use the same security level online as the military, the Internet stands out as an example of a communications system that has much of its origins in the military.
Technology originally used in the military has done a lot to keep people both in the US and around the world safe. The more we see how this technology is used in everyday life, the more we can appreciate its importance.
Here’s another article you might like: Why Veterans Make the Best Entrepreneurs
Music is everywhere, and today’s tech-enabled world makes it easy to enjoy the sounds of your favorite artists and storytellers no matter where you go. Learn about the many ways you can access music and podcasts while on the go with these tips that can make it easy to bring your audio library with you from the family room, to the car, to the gym and virtually anywhere else life takes you.
Take Music and Podcasts Everywhere You Go
(Family Features) Music is everywhere, and today’s tech-enabled world makes it easy to enjoy the sounds of your favorite artists and storytellers no matter where you go.
“In the connected world we live in, consumers want to be able to listen to their favorite music and podcasts wherever they are and however they choose to listen, whether that’s at home, in the car or on the run,” said Sten Garmark, vice president of product for Spotify.
Learn about the many ways you can access music and podcasts while on the go with these tips that can make it easy to bring your audio library with you from the family room, to the car, to the gym and virtually anywhere else life takes you:
Smart speakers are a must for any music-lover’s home with a wide range of devices that come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s listening to motown while you cook, turning up the jazz while you entertain or queuing up your favorite podcasts as you wind down for the night, smart speakers are equipped to stream all types of audio across your home. There are other sources for accessing your music, too. Smart TVs have become true information and entertainment hubs; going far beyond the music channels many cable and satellite providers offer, you can now access an array of apps, including streaming music, on many smart TV models. Another option: game consoles that integrate apps and features beyond their basic gaming function, such as streaming music for the best gaming soundtrack experience.
Also keep in mind that smart home hub capabilities often extend beyond simple device management, such as allowing you to use voice commands to play music and podcasts from streaming services.
In the Car
It’s no secret that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of apps designed to make driving easier and more enjoyable. You’re probably familiar with apps that provide directions or help you locate the cheapest gas nearby, but don’t overlook entertainment apps that can add a little fun to all that function.
If music apps like Spotify aren’t already integrated into your car’s audio system, you can access them through your smartphone then connect via an auxiliary cord or through Bluetooth with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which have in-car display options that make streaming audio simple and stress-free.
On the Run
Streaming music directly from your smartphone’s built-in speaker is almost always an option as well, even without any other device. When you want or need to keep your music to yourself, wireless headphones are an increasingly affordable, hassle-free option. Simply pair the headphones with your smartphone for a private music experience even when you’re in a crowded place.
Explore more options to take your music everywhere you go at Spotify-Everywhere.com.SOURCE:
Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.
(BPT) - Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.
1. Be careful when using insecure Wi-Fi networks
If you’re traveling or out shopping, you may find yourself on an unfamiliar Wi-Fi network. Many stores, airports and rest stops offer free Wi-Fi as a convenience, but often those networks aren’t secured. That makes it especially risky to make online purchases because the traffic from your device can be easily monitored and stolen. If you are using public Wi-Fi networks, then browsing to any website, make sure your connection is encrypted and secure by looking for the lock icon in the top left of the address bar. Also, always double check that the address you are navigating to is what you expected. Many modern devices, like the ASUS NovaGo, now feature built-in LTE, which offers a more secure experience for your online shopping.
2. Don’t rely on passwords alone
Passwords and user IDs are a staple of cybersecurity, but they can only get you so far. To further ensure your data stays protected, consider using password management and verification apps. They let you use your face, fingerprint, eyes or other methods to access your data across devices. For example, the Microsoft Authenticator app adds an extra level of security with two-step verification that allows you to access your Microsoft account and apps quickly and securely without having to remember a password.
3. Avoid phishing scams
With so many companies emailing promotions, it can feel like your inbox is under assault. In fact, it very well could be. Some of those emails may be phishing scams designed to steal your private information. To protect your data, don’t click on any unfamiliar links and carefully review all notifications from your bank to catch any potentially fraudulent activity.
Remember, scammers can be sophisticated. They may use personalized emails to gain your confidence or replicate the style of a well-known financial services company. If an email or link looks the slightest bit suspicious, don’t click it. Go directly to your bank or other online account to confirm the information independently.
4. Back up your data
If all your data is stored in one place, it’s vulnerable. Bad actors can lock up your device and demand payment to release your files. That’s why backing your data up to the cloud is critical for protecting your files against ransomware attacks. The cloud allows you to safeguard your data and access it from multiple devices. Cloud storage services are secure and can also let you easily transfer your data if you’re upgrading to a new device.
5. Utilize privacy screens
Preventing people from looking over your shoulder and stealing your information is the simplest and easiest way to protect your personal data. When online shopping in public, use privacy screens to hide your information. Some devices, like the HP EliteBook x360 and HP Spectre x360, have integrated privacy screens that instantly shield your screen with the push of a button. If your device doesn’t come with one built in, you can purchase a privacy screen.
6. Keep software current
Using a modern operating system with the latest security updates and built-in anti-virus protection is the best way to ward off unwanted intrusions. Major tech companies continually upgrade software to account for the latest cybersecurity threats so you can be confident your data is protected. By keeping your software current, you can avoid many cyberattacks before they cause problems.
If you’re considering upgrades to your home, smart technology is a savvy way to add value and function.
Tech upgrades to improve home function
(Family Features) When smart home technologies first emerged, their purpose was largely for convenience and operating the devices was often clunky. Today, smart devices seamlessly integrate into connected home systems to make living more efficient, improve home security and even offer advantages for your health.
If you’re considering upgrades to your home, smart technology is a savvy way to add value and function.
Smart lighting is among the most prevalent of smart functions on the market, largely because of the multiple benefits it offers. It’s handy to be able to set regular lighting patterns throughout the home so you’re never left in the dark. You can also manage those lights from your smartphone, so forgetting to turn off a light is no longer an issue and you can fool would-be-thieves into thinking the house is inhabited when you’re away.
Fingertip controls offer plenty of advantages, but another consideration is energy management. Dimming features and sensors that turn lights off and on through various detection methods (such as movement or recognizing a connected Bluetooth device) help minimize wasted energy. The lights are typically constructed to use less energy, and most models last substantially longer than their traditional counterparts; some brands claim a lifespan of 20 years or more.
Smart lighting is an easy way to curb energy usage, but another consideration is climate control, which accounts for a big chunk of a typical household’s energy consumption.
The idea of programming your thermostat is nothing new, but smart thermostats take programming to a whole new level. Not only can you schedule temperature changes to coincide with your coming and going (and manage those changes with an app when you’re not even at home), today’s smart thermostats also have sensors that learn your daily habits and can adjust the climate accordingly. Comfort aside, the impact on energy usage is often substantial enough that some electric companies even offer incentives to homeowners who install the devices.
“Few are aware of the impact of indoor air on their health and wellbeing, but the air we breathe is just as important as the food we eat or the water we drink,” said Kent Holm, senior vice president of global product management with the Velux Group. “An average adult breathes in around 4,000 gallons of air every day and spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors. A healthy indoor climate goes way beyond simple convenience.”
Opening skylights in conjunction with vertical windows removes polluted air from the home and promotes an overall healthier lifestyle. An option such as Velux Active with Netatmo is the first smart skylight system that connects with Apple HomeKit, allowing homeowners to manage indoor climate control at home or remotely with the touch of a button.
In addition to manual controls, smart sensor technology monitors carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature in the home and data from local weather station forecasts to automatically open the skylights if fresh air is needed. The system can also automate skylight blinds. Learn more at whyskylights.com.
Peace of Mind
Home security takes numerous forms, from detecting threats like fire or water to physical barriers at the home’s entry points. Smart technology is transforming the way homeowners manage their home’s security and giving them added confidence that their families are safe within those walls.
Anyone who’s ever gotten five miles down the road only to question whether the garage door went down or the front door was locked can appreciate the advantages of smart technology. Smart garage door openers and door locks make it easy for you to program access to guests who may not have a key and even gain access to the house when you’ve forgotten your own key. Other smart security devices like doorbell and flood light cameras help you keep tabs on the traffic around your home.SOURCE:
Home technology devices have come a long way, and many homeowners are discovering that their features aren’t just for convenience and comfort. A growing number of technology-enabled home features promote a healthier living space for you and your family. From boosting indoor air quality to cutting back on dust, dirt and germs, these ideas are the perfect way to add functional upgrades that improve your quality of life.
7 Ways to Create a High-Tech, Healthy Home
(Family Features) Home technology devices have come a long way, and many homeowners are discovering that their features aren’t just for convenience and comfort. A growing number of technology-enabled home features promote a healthier living space for you and your family.
From boosting indoor air quality to cutting back on dust, dirt and germs, these ideas are the perfect way to add functional upgrades that improve your quality of life.
1. Minimize floor debris.
2. Create climate zones.
3. Wash away germs.
4. Monitor for danger.
5. Reduce ductwork.
In fact, Mitsubishi Electric ducted air systems use less ductwork than traditional systems. Less ductwork results in less chance of air leakage, which reduces energy loss, and less contaminants building up in the ductwork. For homeowners looking to go the ductless route, the simplicity of an option like the MLZ One-Way Ceiling Cassette indoor unit is an aesthetically friendly solution that blends into the ceiling. This system easily slides between standard 16-inch joists.
6. Let there be light.
7. Don’t overlook the outdoors.
Explore more health-conscious solutions for your home at MitsubishiComfort.com.SOURCE:
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating
In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices. These tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
5 Ways to Boost Home Wi-Fi
(Family Features) In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, televisions, thermostats, security cameras and even refrigerators.
However, with the growing number of devices requiring access to your network, and in some cases even the quality of the connection itself, there can be limitations to your Wi-Fi network’s performance. The problem can be compounded by the reality that increased reliance on Wi-Fi networks isn’t just in your own home or office, it’s around the globe.
Some groups, such as WifiForward, are advocating for increased connectivity across America, including greater access to unlicensed spectrum, which are radio frequencies that consumers can use for a wide range of purposes, including Wi-Fi. Ultimately, greater access to unlicensed spectrum can result in benefits like more reliable connections and super-fast “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” as well as cost-effective wireless broadband for unconnected urban and rural areas.
In the meantime, these tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
Use up-to-date Wi-Fi technologies. It won’t matter what other steps you take to improve your network performance if you’re using old technology. Be sure your devices and router are all compatible with the latest network capabilities. Equipment that runs the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, is ideal if you’re using multiple devices.
Improve network security. Be sure to regularly update your password and enable WPA2 encryption, which offers greater security.
Know that location matters. Placing your router in an open, centralized area is likely to create a better access point throughout the house. Be wary of walls and other obstructions than can hinder a clear signal transmission throughout the house. An ethernet cable and cable clips are all you need to move your router from its connecting point to a more signal-friendly location.
Reboot your router regularly. Like many devices, an occasional reboot can help improve function. A router that is continually running is processing a great deal of data and even in normal operation some data can become corrupt. A reboot can dump those errors and allow you to resume operations with a clean slate, so to speak.
Update your connected devices. Each device that is actively connected to your network depletes available bandwidth. When a device’s operating system is out-of-date, it can become a data hog, impacting the performance of the other devices you have connected in your home. Check regularly for software and connectivity updates to improve speeds and maximize your experience.
Learn more about constraints of the nation’s current Wi-Fi airwaves and possible solutions at WifiForward.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
(BPT) - Do you think you could live without your mobile phone? What about the navigation and backup camera in your car? Could you drive as well without them? Could you get by without your smartwatch reminding you how often to get up from your desk to keep healthy or weather conditions for the day so you know how to dress?
Our obsession with technology and the information it delivers daily has progressed beyond the point of external mobile phones and smartwatches to implanted heart monitors and Fitbits. At one time, consumers were too paranoid to enter their Social Security or credit card number online, but now, they are willing to implant sensors and other wearable technologies into their bodies. In turn, companies are leveraging these devices to collect as much data about their potential customers as possible.
The latest fashion: Wearing data
Think about it: You’re carrying (and generating) large amounts of data everywhere you go with wearable and implanted technologies. This means 24/7 data collection for the companies that manufacture those devices, which in turn helps them create a 360-degree view of the patients, athletes or customers they serve with the appropriate products, services and marketing campaigns.
According to research by Talend, a cloud and big data integration software company, 33 percent of consumers already own wearables like the Apple Watch or smart clothing, and another 30 percent are expected to make a purchase within the next three years. That’s a lot of new sources of data for companies to utilize — and a plethora of information companies can use to more accurately define the preferences and needs of its customers.
How we’re using wearables
Topping the list of today’s most common consumer-use cases for embedded wearables is healthcare (57 percent), privacy (28 percent) and convenience (20 percent), all contributing to the rapid dissemination and uptake of these devices.
Healthcare is the leading use for implanted technologies, with the introduction of advanced-tracking devices such as Medtronic’s FDA-approved Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor with TruRhythm Detection, introduced in March of this year, which is designed to accurately identify abnormal heartbeats. This life-saving device is implanted just beneath the skin and communicates wirelessly with the patient’s bedside monitor, which uploads device data to the Medtronic CareLink network. Once the data is loaded, algorithms can be run to determine if the patient is experiencing slower than average heart rate, which can deprive the brain and other organs from getting enough oxygen. This advanced use of embedded wearables and machine learning helps physicians find answers for patients at risk of cardiac arrhythmias to better manage a range of patient populations.
Outside of healthcare, the second biggest use for embedded wearables is physical security. Several companies have started utilizing biochip implants to replace card keys and manual entry codes for employees. For example, Three Square Market offered employees implanted chips in July to make purchases in their cafeteria and break rooms, open doors, log in to computers and use the copy machine. Approximately 50 employees underwent the minimally invasive procedure, many of whom believe the chip is worth any potential discomfort, as it helps to streamline their daily processes. Though this may seem like a massive invasion of privacy for many, for others, biochip implants present a way to make life easier.
Establishing trust: Should you be worried about privacy of information?
While the results of Talend’s survey seem to point to the fact that consumers are getting more digitally comfortable, with greater trust from consumers comes greater responsibility for companies to understand the many ways they need to protect customer data.
According to Talend’s survey, the most likely scenario that would drive consumers to break up with a brand and take their business elsewhere is a breach of personal data. In fact, 78 percent of consumers want to be assured they have full visibility into what companies are doing with their data. But as implanted and wearable technology becomes increasingly common and technology improves, the trade-off between data privacy and convenience will only increase.
Consider a future of augmented reality where implanted contacts could allow you to visualize and interact with the world around you in practical ways, or a future with implanted audio wearables that translate languages in real time. Would that convenience and experience move you to adopt wearable technology even if it means relinquishing more of your personal information and privacy?
At what point of technology adoption do we all essentially become cyborgs, guided each day by the obvious and subliminal information being fed to us via embedded and external devices? The day of total automation may be here sooner than you think.
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