You probably read recently about the network engineers who took control of a Chrysler Jeep Cherokee driving down a highway in St. Louis. They accomplished that using a networked computer 10 miles away. They activated the windshield wipers, turned the radio and air conditioning up full blast, and disengaged the car’s transmission.
As a result of this experiment, within days Chrysler’s parent company recalled 1.4 million vehicles that were susceptible to the same kind of Internet attack.
That’s simply one example —albeit dramatic—of the security and safety risks associated with the Internet of Things (IoT)—the environment where internet-connected devices and sensors communicate with each other to perform designated tasks. These devices include thermostats, refrigerators, ovens, smart TV’s, washing machines, air conditioners, lights, power outlets, music players, baby monitors, webcams, sprinklers, door locks, home alarms, scales, garage door openers, medical devices, and much more!
By 2020, tech research firm, Gartner, predicts the IoT will include a staggering 26 billion devices. Other estimates peg the size of the market as high as 75 billion devices, which would be roughly five times the size of the mobile phone market.
So as you can imagine, the IoT is and will continue to be great for automation, energy savings, efficiency, safety, and convenience.
But it also poses significant security risks. An August 2014 study from Hewlett-Packard found that 70 percent of all IoT devices are vulnerable to being hacked or compromised. The study examined 10 smart devices such as thermostats, webcams, and smart TVs and found that each had about 25 potential vulnerabilities. They also found that 80 percent of those devices leaked private information such as the user’s name, email, home address, date of birth, or credit card information
So What Is A Person To Do?
- Update your software. As soon as an update is offered, run it. New version may include patches to close up recently discovered security holes.
- Do your research. Examine the privacy policies and security features of any new smart gadget or appliance before you buy it. If you don’t understand the privacy or security features, contact the manufacturer for additional information and to answer questions you have.
- Stay Informed. Look for software tools designed to protect your personal data and privacy across the Internet. For example, MyPermissions, offers FREE Android and iOS apps as well as a browser toolbar. It alerts you when an app gains access to your personal information and will prompt you to revoke or accept the permission.
- Be Aware. Most of us are aware of security issues relating to our computers. But awareness that our smart TV’s, thermostats, or home security systems could be hacked is a relatively new concept for most of us. So staying aware, informed, and vigilant will become more and more important as the Internet of Things expands and becomes integrated into almost everything in our daily lives.
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for homeowners to fail to inform their insurance agent about home renovation plans because they assume doing so will result in insurance premium increases. While this may be true in some cases, it could be even more costly if you don’t involve your agent in the process. Here’s why:
You could actually save money on your insurance.
Fixing your roof or upgrading your electrical system can decrease your insurance premiums. These types of upgrades and renovations lower your home’s risk of loss from the perspective of an insurance company, which could reward you in turn. Read the rest of this entry »
Your homeowner’s insurance policy will pay to repair damage to your home caused by a fire, windstorm or other covered losses. But what if the damage is so severe that you and your family have to move out while repairs are being made? Who picks up the tab?
Actually your homeowner’s policy includes “additional living expenses” (also called “loss of use” or “Part D”) coverage for situations like that. This coverage will pay the necessary increase in your living expenses required to maintain your family’s current standard of living while the house is being repaired. Expenses typically covered include the hotel costs, food bills in excess of normal grocery/restaurant bills, cooking supplies and the cost of moving property into storage. Read the rest of this entry »
When many of us were young teens (many decades ago), we may have said some unkind things in the heat of the moment …things that faded away quickly when everything calmed down. But today, if a teen decides to post those unkind things on social media, those words remain for much, much longer than the heat of the moment. And they can be passed along to large audiences with a speed that is mind-numbing.
And beyond hurt feelings, embarrassment, and frustration, that cyber bullying can now potentially damage someone’s reputation and future—impacting a teen’s ability to get into the college of their choice or ultimately secure a job because admissions officers and employers now search social networking sites for information on applicants.
And that means parents could be facing a lawsuit if their child engages in cyber bullying. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’re one of the 1.85 million students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree this year – congratulations! We also have an important message for you as you head out into your new life/career: your insurance needs may have changed.
If you now have a new job and have finally bought that car you always wanted, remember: simply purchasing mandated minimum coverage isn’t a good idea.
The following are recommendations for minimum coverage. (Please understand that these are recommended minimums only and that higher limits are available and recommended.) Read the rest of this entry »
On average, every year 800,000 people experience a dog bite that requires medical attention, and half of those bitten are children. (The highest incidence is with children between the ages of 5 and 9 years of age.)
The ASPCA estimates there were 74.8 million dogs kept as pets in the United States in 2007–2008. That means 800,000 injuries represents roughly 1% of the canine pet population. But that doesn’t and should minimize the importance of teaching your children pet safety because ANY dog can bite – the family pet, a friend’s dog, or an unknown pooch in a neighborhood.
So here are tips from the ASPCA to help parents educate their children and help them stay safe. Read the rest of this entry »
All of the recent terrible storms throughout the Midwest and Southeast could impact you if you’re in the market for a used car. Vehicles damaged by floods in those areas can be cleaned up and taken out of state for sale. According to Edmunds.com, ” After the owners of damaged cars settle up with their insurance companies, vehicles are sometimes refurbished and resold. And sometimes, a middleman buyer intentionally hides a car’s history as a flood-damaged vehicle through a process known as “title washing” and sells it to an unsuspecting buyer in a state unaffected by the disaster. Electrical and mechanical problems then surface later — long after the seller is gone — leaving the new owner with an unreliable car and no recourse against the seller.”
So how can you protect yourself from future car problems and potentially a vehicle that’s not safe to be on the road? Here’s are some tips: Read the rest of this entry »
- You got a new job and have to move to another location before you can sell your home.
- You bought a new house and your current home hasn’t sold yet.
- You are the executor of an estate, managing the sale of a house.
- You’re going to be out of your home for an extended period due to renovations
The important thing for you to know is that in these situations, once the home is vacant for a certain period of time, it’s likely your standard homeowner policy will not provide coverage. Read the rest of this entry »
How many times have you passed a vehicle stopped for a traffic violation (State Trooper car flashing its blue lights) or a tow truck (again…lights flashing) working to remove a broken-down car? And how many times have you seen cars barreling past them at full speed in the adjacent lane?
We see it all too frequently. We assume it’s because motorists don’t know about the MOVE OVER LAW. (In fact, a survey sponsored by the National Safety Commission found that 71% of Americans had never heard of move over laws.)
So if you don’t know about it, here it is: Read the rest of this entry »
- Snow totals that broke all records last winter
- The month of May that would have been the driest on record for our area if the last day of the month had not experienced downpours! (It still ended up being 3rd driest.)
- Near-record low temperatures at night in early June.
And now it’s Hurricane Season! Luckily it’s predicted to be a less active season than average so let’s hope predictions are correct. But every hurricane needs to be taken very seriously, so here are a number of free mobile applications that can help keep you informed and safe:
NOAA Mobile App
“NOAA Now” presents the latest news and emergency updates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Included is: ocean storms, including the latest information for the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific cyclone basins; mainland storms, including the latest severe weather alerts; animated satellite views of the United States and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; images from the Environmental Visualization Laboratory; marine information from the National Data Buoy Center; the nationwide ultraviolet index. The content can be shared by email and on any social media installed on the device. All data is courtesy of NOAA and NASA. Read the rest of this entry »