Tesla leading Eco Travel to the Alps!

If you visit the mountains regularly you are constantly reminded of Global Warming and the impact on the environment caused by our day-to-day living. Cars are one of the main culprits but we are now seeing a surge in the popularity of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (EV), marketed as the clean answer to our daily commute, and mainly due to Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk. According to him, EV’s will replace combustible engines as the primary power source in the next 10 years.

This week the UK government followed other EU members to commit to removing combustible engines from our cars from 2040 which, for most of us (not Trump), is a great step forward in helping to combat climate change and the environments we live in.

Although 2040 is a long wait for most, you don’t have to wait to start enjoying the benefits of EV’s as the technology is already here and the range possible, with the latest battery technology, means that EV’s can be used as your day-to-day vehicle of choice. Keeping them topped up is getting easier as you can use Solar, an increasing number of charging stations around Europe or direct from your home grid.  Purchase costs are still high but with the Tesla’s release of the Model 3 in 2018, estimated to be approx. $35k, EV travel will soon be within reach of the many.

Tesla_Model3

Other car manufacturers are also looking to release better performing Hybrid and EV vehicles. We already have the ‘I’ brand from BMW but also new cars from Audi, Mercedes, and the new version of the Nissan Leaf are expected in 2018 and all these manufacturers claim to be able to deliver over the magic 200-mile range which only Tesla can currently brag about.

Getting to the mountains

Those of you who drive to the Portes du Soleil will probably think that an EV will not have the range or it will mean long delays whilst waiting for it to charge? With the Tesla S maximum range of 355 miles, this means only a single stop to recharge is needed from Calais. When you arrive in Morzine you can use a connection your accommodations electricity to recharge. There are over 900 Tesla Supercharger stations around Europe giving more than 6000 Superchargers which can give you a 170 mile charge in 30 minutes or a full range charge in just over an hour.

If you regularly drive you will know that you will need to refuel a standard car 2 to 3 time on the way to Morzine, and you will stop to rest so this charging schedule will not impede your progress, and you’ll save fuel costs and help the planet along the way. As an example of Supercharging costs, a journey from Paris to Rome is estimated at €60. 

Ski Transfer Companies have been quick to get involved with EV’s benefiting the environment, reducing ongoing costs as well as providing a Eco Transfer service to Eco travellers. The team at http://themountainrescue.com  currently provide a Luxury Tesla Exec service and are also looking to bring more hybrid based vehicles, which will bring Eco Transfers to more of us. If you fly into Geneva, and are interested in Eco Transfers, take a look at the companies below for available destinations;

https://themountainrescue.com/luxury-electric-airport-transfers/

The Mountain Rescue team provide Luxury Tesla Transfers from Geneva to most French Ski resorts from Val D’Isere to Courchevel to Avoriaz. The price form Geneva to Morzine is approximately €375.

https://teslatransfers.com

Tesla Transfers provide a Taxi Service between Geneva and all the ski resorts in the canton of Valais (Verbier, Zermatt, Saas Fee etc.). Prices for taxi transfer between Geneva airport and Verbier is 490 CHF during the winter months, and 390 CHF in the summer. You can also rent a Tesla S for those of you interested in driving a Tesla yourself.

https://zeat.vip/

In the mountains

One of the benefits of EV’s is that each wheel can have its own motor driving it and therefore can replace the current gas and diesel guzzling 4-wheel drives making them extremely practical for mountain life. Slap on some Snow Tyres and you are away. There are a few concerns with EV Battery technology and the efficiency of their use when the temperature drops below the optimum. The team at the transfer company http://thecoolbus.co.uk give a great insight into their first use of a Tesla X, during the winter, in their blog article http://thecoolbus.co.uk/blog/are-transfers-electric/. Just to spoil the ending though, they have decided to buy another Tesla X which just goes to show you what they think!

In ‘conclusion’ Electric Vehicles look like they are here to stay and will have a very positive impact on the environment. Those of us who regularly travel to the mountains can reduce our travel carbon footprint for our yearly holiday, which will help us to enjoy our holidays that little bit more. The current available technology is almost accessible to the masses, at a price that is affordable to most as well as have the range to replace our current combustible engine based transport although there is still a question about access to charging stations and the performance in cold weather, and driving in the mountains. But its almost here….almost…

 

 

 

 

Home Security – Using Smart Home Technology

Owning a property In the Portes du Soleil means either you live here all year round or you have a ‘second home’ that you may also rent out during the high seasons. Either way there will be lengthy periods of time when your property is left unattended. When you are away, how do you ensure that your home is secure?

Traditionally a security system is installed, which means a costly installation and an ongoing monthly subscription to cover the monitoring of any alerts that happen when you are away. With the latest Smart Home technologies you can utilise your current internet connection to create your own security solution that can keep you up-to-date 24/7….but where do you start?

Security Deterrents

According to Police.UK, homes, with no security measures in place, are 5 times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures.  Visual deterrents are the first line of defence and there are some simple improvements that you can make before thinking about making a bigger investment in a monitored alarm or buying Smart Home technology;

Reduce visibility of possessions through the windows – Lock your valuables away, something on show is more of an encouragement than anything unseen. Think about installing a safe for smaller valuables but remember to bolt it down so its not easily removed.

Automated lights and Audio – make it appear that someone is at home using time schedules for lighting and audio equipment. Create multiple schedules so it appears as random usage throughout the day as well as in the evening. Try to replicate some of your normal behaviours around your day/night/week.

Install good outdoor lighting – Lights activated by motion ensure that people cannot approach your home undetected. Install lights around your property and try to ensure that the lights will cover as much of your property as possible, minimizing any unlit areas where someone can remain unseen.

Visible secure locks – installed on your windows, doors and external gates will ensure that these entry points will be difficult to get past.

Strong external doors installed – Forced doors are the primary entry point into your home and should be changed if you think that they or the frames are damaged or are too flimsy when your forcibly push them.

Install a visual burglar alarm – Just having an alarm on the outside of your property will get a potential burglar looking for a property that doesn’t have one. Knowing that all entry points will be monitored as well as motion detection is active internally will have them thinking twice.

Install security cameras – Being able to record any activity around your home is a great deterrent. Even if a potential burglar has their face covered, knowing that their actions, clothing and body language will be recorded will give them pause.

Where can Smart Technology help?

Smart Home Technology can be used to implement many security deterrents, and not at a huge cost. You can start with Smart Plugs to turn on lights and audio at different types of the day. Or you can go to the other end of the spectrum with a fully managed system tracking inside and outside your home as well as all windows and doors. Both can be managed using Apps on your Smart Device and be tailored to what you need for peace of mind.

Using Smart Home Technologies will enable you to get instant alerting and live status information on your mobile. It can provide a ‘live’ view both inside and outside your home so you can check any alerts received and react accordingly. If you miss an alert, security cameras will record directly to the cloud for future reference which can be accessed online.

Compatibility between manufacturers is always improving and can provide greater functionality and security solutions to you e.g. camera detecting motion and activating all outdoor lights.

Below I have listed some recommended Smart Home Technologies that will provide  deterrents, record any activity around your home and will alert you on your mobile;

Wemo_Smart_PlugBelkin WeMo Insight Smart Plug – An adapter that plugs into your current power socket and allows you to control whatever you plug into it. This could be a lamp, radio or a television and, with the App, you can schedule when it should turn the device on and off.

 

Philips_Hue.jpgPhillips Hue Lighting – Install using a phone App, you can set lighting schedules for each bulb, as a room or home. Bulbs come in screw in, bayonet, spot light and there are also varios lamps. Lighting themes can be created for different moods at different times or setting for movie night. Works with googles Nest and can turn lights on if the Nest Cameras sense motion or a fire is detected.

LiFxLi-FX Similar to Philips Hue but without a base station, each light is a stand alone device but all are managed via an app. Set schedules to wake up to gradually brighter light, schedule lights to turn on and off and set themes for different times of the day.

 

Medium PNG 150dpi-Camera_PF_Standing_v2Nest Cam – Indoor – Plug in and monitor anyway in your home. Can record 24/7 using night vision, motion detection, facial recognition and zonal monitoring. Alerts can be configured to include loud sounds i.e. banging on a door or a smashed window and will record any movements and alerts to the cloud. Can automatically turn off when you come home.

 

sonos_play1.jpgSonos Play 1 – Can be scheduled to turn on and off throughout the day. Can stream your favourite internet radio stations, play from your iTunes library or smart device. Audio quality is excellent and you can add more speakers around your home for a distributed system, including Home Cinema

 

y-cam_proY-Cam outdoor pro – wireless outdoor security camera with Free 7 Day Cloud storage for 3 years

 

 

Netgear_Arlo.jpgNetgear Arlo Security – Wireless Security Camera system that comes with free cloud storage, Motion alerting, night vision for inside and outside.

 

Nest_cam_outdoor.pngNest Cam Outdoor – Fixed camera monitoring 24/7. Provides night vision, motion detection, facial recognition and zonal monitoring. Alerts can be configured to include loud sounds i.e. banging on a door or a smashed window and will record any movements and alerts to the cloud. Can be set to automatically turn off when you come home. Works with other Smart Tech like Phillips Hue and will activate lights if motion is detected.

ADT_smart_home_securityADT Smart Home Security – Managed Service for a more traditional style of Security Alarm but encompasses remote access and alerting to your Smart Device.

 

Yale-Smart-home.jpgYale Smart Living – A full range of kit to secure your home, from smart locks to cameras to door and window monitoring. No subscription service and can be DIY installed.

 

 

Next Steps – Smart Home Monitoring

Secure your WI-Fi

Most smart technologies need a Wi-Fi connection to perform alerting and remote connectivity. Ensuring that your Internet Wi-Fi connection is up-to-date and secure is of obvious importance. So, before you install any Smart Home Technologies ensure that your Internet Wi-Fi connection is also safe and secure to use. Read the article on Internet Router Security and make sure you are using the latest standards of security on your router and Wi-Fi.

Home Network Performance

 

How many of us have actually sat down and thought, ‘what will I use my home network for and what is the best solution for me?’.

A poorly designed network will impact your online experience, whether it is continual buffering of your favourite Netflix shows or your jittery online gaming experience. When this happens, its very common for us all to look at our internet connection speeds…but this may not be the problem.

There are many reasons for poor network performance, these can range from cheap Wi-Fi routers, poorly configured network, devices not up-to-date or your internet connection performance.

To try to improve your performance, here are some simple things you can try;

App Updates

Updates – First rule of thumb is to ensure that all your devices/hardware/software/apps are up to date. List what you have under the 3 categories above, and you’ll find that its a long list but if you don’t update them performance is the first thing that is impacted.

Internet Connection – Test your internet performance using a test on speedtest.net this test will communicate to one of their local servers to judge your connection. An ADSL connection download speed is 12Mb-16Mb on average. If you are getting below 8Mb on average, contact your provider and get the telecoms company out to test the lines to your property.

Troubleshoot – Secondly, track your performance issues for a period of time. Connect your device, with a cable, to your router, and do you have the same issues? Does it happen at certain times of the day (peak times), who is doing what on your network…..is your Son downloading music/movies 24/7 and using up 60% of your bandwidth?

Wi-Fi – Thirdly, change your Wi-Fi password, physically connect a laptop to your router  and then test your performance. With this you ensure that only your device is connecting. If performance is good, you can add devices router installone-by-one to see if/when the performance becomes a problem again. This will highlight a device that is not working correctly and needs a config change, update or its the limit of your Wi-F and you need an upgrade.

Professional Help – I would then get a Professional in to do a Health Check and performance review of your network. This may include installation of Demo hardware to test against which will highlight limitations of your current setup and will give clear suggestions of upgrades be they Internet, Network/Wi-Fi or Devices.Health Check

My Network – In Morzine, ADSL/2 Broadband is available and investments in Morzine’s infrastructure is bringing Fibre in early 2018.

I currently get between 10Mb and 16Mb bandwidth and I have 14 devices constantly connected both physically, with CAT6 cable, and over Wi-Fi to my router. I have disabled the Wi-Fi on the router that cam with the contract, and I have installed a new Wi-Fi Access Point with greater security and management features. I still use the original router, as an ADSL Modem, but I have ensured that all default settings have been changed and unused options are turned off.

My devices range from Smart TV’s, Security Cameras, Lighting, Heating, Laptops and Mobiles. I have a Free Sat TV but also Netflix and Plex.tv subscriptions as well as a PlayStation. I rarely get performance issues running on an this ADSL connection.

Throughout the seasons we have multiple guests which login to the ‘guest’ network. The guest network traffic is kept separate to my homes traffic to ensure that guests do not impact the properties devices.  I also ‘block’ certain types of web traffic and websites to reduce the impact that these can have to any network and internet connection i.e. File Sharing/Adult Sites and have a system that block known virus/malware sites. This is both a performance and security improvement.

As more and more devices are being adding to the list of the Internet of Things (IoT), the more important Network Performance and its Security becomes. Your Internet connection is a part of this but wait to upgrade until its actually needed. If you focus on your Network Design and internal Performance first, you will be ready to fully utilise the new hyper-mega-time warping connection when you actually need it.

 

 

 

Smart Home Monitoring

If you are going away on holiday, you will probably ask a trusted friend or neighbour to check in once and a while to make sure everything is ok? You may have asked someone to look after and walk the dog, feed the fish and sort the post too? But what if something happens when they aren’t there?

Monitoring your home, using Smart Home Technologies, gives you continual health check and updates about your home. If you are going to work for a day, or on holiday for a month, automated alerting will let you know what is going on around your home and will allow you to interact accordingly.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are a great entry in to Smart Home Monitoring and will save you money. They ensure your home is warm when you are around and will reduce the temperature when you are away. You can set a minimum temperature in the winter to ensure pipes do not freeze and turn off completely in the summer. You can remotely connect and manage your heating using an app on a smart device, override setting if you need to and check on humidity too.

nest_thermostatGoogle’s Nest Thermostat –The 3rd generation Nest Thermostat learns what temperatures you like, and at what times, then programs itself accordingly. It uses built-in sensors to confirm no one’s home and it knows how long it takes to heat your home so you’re comfortable when you get there. When you leave, it turns itself down so you save energy. And you can check your Energy History with the Nest App to see how much you’ve saved.

ecobeeEcobee 3 – Your ecobee understands your local weather, schedule and desired comfort settings, to ensure your home is at the right temperature at the right time. Get free monthly reports on how much energy you’ve saved and tips on how you can save even more. Your ecobee monitors your heating and cooling systems and alerts you if it senses that something isn’t working properly.

 

honeywell_evohome.jpgHoneywell evohome  – Using a main thermostat and singular radiator thermostats allows you to create and individually control up to 12 heating zones around your home and will also control domestic hot water. With touchscreen control, the user can quickly gain control of exactly where and when the property should be heated. Remote access is provided via a tablet or smart phone.

Water Sensors

These can be placed around your home for constant monitoring of high risk areas like old pipes, washing machine and dishwashers etc. If pipes are close to freezing or water/humidity is detected, you and friends keeping an eye on your home, can be alerted on a smart device. Some systems will also automatically shut off your water supply and activate a siren that will wake you to ensure any damage is kept to a minimum.    

D-Link_water_sensorD-Link Wi-Fi Water Sensor – It’s easy to setup, connects to your home Wi-Fi and can help you detect water leaks before serious flooding occurs. It has audio and visual LED alerts as well as push notifications to your phone to alert you when a leak is detected.

 

honeywell_water_sensorHoneywell Lyric Wi-Fi water and freeze detector – notifies you on your smartphone when a leak is detected or the temperature drops below a temperature of your choice. 

 

 

Door Bells

Smart Door bells now come with cameras, motion detection and Wi-Fi all built-in, allowing you to communicate directly with whomever comes to your door when you are away (if you want to). Imagine being able to talk to the Amazon delivery driver and telling them to place the parcel in a designated location.

Ring_DoorbellRing – Get instant alerts when visitors press your Doorbell or trigger the built-in motion sensors. Then use the free Ring app to see, hear and speak to guests from your smart phone, tablet or PC.

 

 

Stoga_DoorbellStoga D012 Doorbell – Wireless Intercom Enabled Video Doorbell direct to your smart device.

 

 

 

skybell_doorbellSkyBell Wi-Fi Video Doorbell – Motion detection, night vision enabled camera with remote connectivity to your Smart Device

 

 

 

Door Locks

Smart locks allow you manage access to your home without the need for you to provide multiple keys. Imagine your dog walker, builder or your neighbour who is just checking in on the place for you can each have a different combination to the lock and you can activate and deactivate remotely from your phone. You can also state what hours of the day the combination will work and for how many days.

If the late delivery of your new beach ware arrives when you are away, you can ask the driver to leave it inside and open your door remotely. After he leaves, remotely lock it again and send them on their way.

lockstate_remote_lockLockstate Remotelock 6i WiFi Enabled Smart Lock – The internet controlled Remotelock 6i is perfect for your business, rental property or home use. This robust WiFi enabled door lock allows users to lock or unlock doors remotely, know when people unlock your door, and even receive email/text* alerts when codes are used. Issue new codes or delete codes from your computer or phone. Even give temporary codes to guests or office personnel.

yale_smartlock_zwave.gifYale Keyless Connected Smart Door Lock with Z-Wave Module – Lock and unlock your home without the need for a key. Simple to use, you now have complete control on how you unlock your door. Connects to leading smart home systems using the Z-Wave protocol allowing you to lock and unlock your door remotely using an app. You can remotely add user credentials, set schedules when people can enter and audit trails to track user entry

Indoor Cameras

These plug-in-and-go, multi-functional Indoor Cameras can be placed anywhere around your home. The camera can give you a live feed, automate alerting and record directly to the cloud or built-in memory. Motion detection will detect water spreading across the floor, coming through the ceiling or the movement of flames generating alerts. A built-in microphone will alert you to loud noises like a burst pipe, boiler problems or a broken window. Some cameras also allow you to communicate using the built-in microphone and speaker so you can chat with anyone in your home.

Facial recognition is one of the latest trends and you can teach the camera the faces of your family and friends so it will only alert you if it doesn’t recognise the person. The camera is also smart enough to be able to tell the difference between a person or a thing, like your dog which will ensure that you are only alerted to actual issues.

Medium PNG 150dpi-Camera_PF_Standing_v2Nest Cam – Indoor – Plug in and monitor anyway in your home. Can record 24/7 using night vision, motion detection, facial recognition and zonal monitoring. Alerts can be configured to include loud sounds i.e. banging on a door or a smashed window and will record any movements and alerts to the cloud. Can automatically turn off when you come home.

 

Netgear_ArloNetgear Arlo Security – Wireless Security Camera system that comes with free cloud storage, Motion alerting, night vision for inside and outside.

 

Smoke Detectors

Can detect smoke, fire and carbon monoxide and tell the difference between steam and smoke which will reduce false alerts. If there is an alert, the details will be sent to your smart device, a siren will sound and lighting will be activated. Some devices, like the Nest Protect, have motion detection which also activates a night-light which is a nice touch as well as an automatic self-testing function to make sure everything is working correctly. Low battery warnings are also given by a chirp as well as to your smart device giving you plenty of warning before they run out. They can be battery only or hard-wired with battery back-up.

nest-protect-2Nest Protect – Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detector, self-testing with a built in siren and lights for notification. Will send alerts to your Smart Device and works with other Nest products to turn off your boiler if Carbon Monoxide is detected.

 

d-link_smoke_detectorD-link Home Smoke Detector – built-in audio alarm alerts you whenever smoke is detected and sends a push notification to your smart phone or tablet when you’re away from home.

 

 

Honeywell smoke alarmHoneywell Evohome Smart Wireless Smoke Detector – Optical wireless detector. It is equipped with a siren and LED light for notification. You can also receive alerts on your Smart Device and can interrogate the device via the smart app.

 

 

Secure your WI-Fi

Most smart technologies need a Wi-Fi connection to perform alerting and remote connectivity. Ensuring that your Internet Wi-Fi connection is up-to-date and secure is of obvious importance. So, before you install any Smart Home Technologies ensure that your Internet Wi-Fi connection is also safe and secure to use. Read the article on Internet Router Security and make sure you are using the latest standards of security on your router and Wi-Fi.

Next Steps – Smart Home Security

 

Review – Nest Cam iQ

We love Smart Home Tech so our first ever review is the latest indoor Camera from Google’s Nest, the Nest Cam iQ.

Nest Cam iQ £300 or €349nest_cam_iQ_sensor

The Nest Cam iQ comes with a 8-megapixel (4K) colour sensor with 12x Digital Zoom capability with enhanced close-up tracking view. It can also record up to 1080p video in both day and night, yes it also has night vision too, and a field of view of 130 degrees. It also comes with a large rear speaker and built-in mic which is used for 2-way audio communication.

It is a Table Top camera which means that you can place it on any flat surface and plug it in and you are good to go. It has a very heavy base which aids stability and allows you to take full advantage of its range of motion.

Functionality

With the new and vastly improved spec of the latest camera, you get a much higher resolution video and imaging and more processing power. This allows the camera to be much more intelligent about what is going on in your home. This new camera can be configured to recognize faces so it only alerts you when someone it doesn’t recognize comes in to your home. If someone unknown is seen by the camera it will zoom in and record, in 1080p, video and images of that person.

nest_cam_iQ-AIIt is also clever enough to tell the difference between and object, a pet and a person so Fido will not be causing alerts in your home whilst chasing Socks the cat.

It comes with 3 microphones to listen for loud noises in your home, caused by intruders outside the cameras vision. As well as listening they are also used for noise cancelling e.g. background noise when you are using the 2-way communication function to remind your kids to take the dog for a walk.

Nest Aware

Nest Aware is a subscription based cloud back up service for your images and videos. As default your camera comes with a limited 10 days of footage for free but each subsequent month with cost an extra £8 (£80 for the year).

This extra cost is essential if you want to get full functionality from your camera and if you want to see and manage video that is captured.

Verdict                      

Build quality is excellent and the new facial recognition works very well indeed. The improved quality of video is impressive as well as the zoom function. With this extra detail, the accuracy of Alerting has improved but it does come at a price. £300 is a big jump from the standard £160 Nest Cam Indoor, especially if you take in to account the Nest Aware subscription, but if the extra quality and facial recognition is important to you then this should justify the extra spend.

Pros

  • Facial recognition
  • 12x Zoom
  • High quality images
  • Works with the complete Nest suite of products

Cons

  • High Price
  • Need Nest Aware Subscription for full functionality

Improving your Wi-Fi Signal

What impacts your signal?

Your Wi-Fi signal is impacted by many different things including the construction methods of the building, the Wi-Fi router location and configuration or the interference from devices such as your microwave.

To improve your signal I have provided a step-by-step guide to improving your signal coverage and to highlight any underlying issues that you may have with your network setup and devices.

I would not recommend attempting the advance steps without a solid understanding in the tasks as you could stop your Wi-Fi working altogether if done incorrectly.

Initial StepsSpeedtest.net.png

Internet Speed Test 1 – This is a baseline just in case that the internet connection bandwidth is an underlying issue. Using a speed test tool e.g. http://www.speedtest.net/ get a basic upload and download reading.

Check who/what is connected – If you are still using default passwords, someone may be using your Wi-Fi, without your knowledge, and using up all your bandwidth. Change your Wi-Fi password and your router admin password to something complex and unique and then reconnect your main device. See ‘managing your passwords’ article…

Internet Speed Test 2 – With only a single device connected, run the speed test again. If the test results are the same you now have your baseline and this is the bandwidth that you have. Now walk around your property to check that your signal coverage is still the same.

Router Location – Your router should be in the ‘centre’ of the required coverage area you would like. Most likely your premises will have an entry point for your internet connection and, naturally, your internet Wi-Fi router is positioned here which usually isn’t in the centre. Go to your local hardware store and get a longer cable, relevant to the router connection, and test various different locations around the house and how well the signal works in the areas where you need it.

iOS_update.jpgUpdate your software – Ensure that all of your devices and laptops etc. are using the latest patches and updates. Updating your devices will help to reduce security flaws as well as install performance improvements which can help improve your Wi-Fi performance.

 

Intermediate Steps

Wi-Fi Router Update – It is not uncommon to receive a ‘new router’ with an older version of software/firmware. Updating your router will ensure that all known security flaws will be fixed and the latest performance improvements will be applied. Only attempt a router firmware upgrade if you are comfortable doing so.

2.4GHz and 5GHz – Modern routers and devices will use both frequencies. 2.4GHz was the original standard but is used by every single Wi-Fi router. 5GHz is fairly new and Wi-Fi routers aren’t using this as a default because older devices cannot connect. Check your devices and if possible change to 5GHz as this will have less interference and you will find that the performance may be much better.

Channels – Whether you use 2.4GHz or 5GHz, an ISP will configure your router to use a default channel. If everyone one around you also uses the default channel of their ISP, its a likely that these default channels will become congested.

Modern routers will allow you to see which channels are being used and which are less congested. With this information you can choose a less congested channel for your Wi-Fi to use.

Some routers can change channels automatically but, if you live in a very congested area, you may find that your router is constantly changing channels and this can impact your Wi-Fi performance.

Wi-Fi Extender – If you have tried all the above, and before forking out a large sum of cash for the latest router, try a Wi-Fi extender. Installing this within your routers current signal range but close to your ‘dead zone’ will get you greater coverage. Extenders are cheaper than a new router and simple to install.

Advanced

Update your Router – (in the advanced section due to the cost) The Latest router technology may work for you. It should provide with the latest aerial technology for coverage and further performance/configuration options to allow you to proceed with the next couple of steps.

Instead of changing all the functions of a Wi-Fi router, you can install a new Wi-Fi access point, replacing your routers Wi-Fi, but keep the router function.

Prioritize applications – Modern routers can allow you to prioritize certain types of traffic over other e.g. Video/audio of social networking thus reducing the impact of social networking on your Netflix streaming.

Device QoS – Modern routers and Access point can configure bandwidth limitations at a device level so if you have business devices that need a minimum bandwidth to work correctly you can guarantee this using Quality of Service (QoS) policies.

If you have completed all these steps, then Well Done. It’s a bit of work to get here but I’m sure that its been worthwhile.

Another Ransomware Attack?

Instances of Cybercrime are rising faster than any other form of crime in the UK. According to Crime figures in the UK, Cybercrime instances for 2016 are 3.6m and these are just the ones that were reported.

What is Cybercrime?

Cybercrime is a term loosely used to cover all aspects of any crime that uses a computer, the internet or has a technical aspect to it. For example, online (cyber) stalking your Facebook account, fraudulent access to your bank account to theft of personal data. Cybercrime covers many different styles of crime and the list is continually growing.

Ransomware

Ransomware uses a couple of techniques to get a Virus/Malware on your laptop or mobile device. Either they will exploit a weakness in your operation system on your device (iOS, windows etc.) or get you to click on a link pretending to be something else (link in an email or a browser pop-up). When it has successfully gained access to a device, it will find your Data (usually stored in a default location) and encrypt it. With encryption, you need a key to unlock it and gain access to the data so if ransomware encrypts your data, you need to pay them money for the key to unlock your data.

How can you protect yourself?

Latest Patches and updates – Ensure all your internet routers, operating systems and personal devices are always up-to-date. Manufacturers continually update their software to ensure that any vulnerabilities found, are made secure. Don’t leave it till tomorrow!

Use strong complex passwords – Easy to guess passwords are, of course, a silly idea. Use a Password manager to generate and store all your online passwords. Check out this article here for more information

Security Software – Anti-virus, firewall and malware protection is offered via all reputable security software manufacturers. If you don’t have Anti-Virus installed, then its not if but when you will be attacked…if you haven’t already

Protect your personal information – Do not give your personal information, account details and or passwords to anyone. If someone asks you to verify your details with them, stop the conversation or delete the email straight away and call the relevant body back using contact information from their website to discuss what has just happened. If it’s a cybercriminal they maybe contacting many more people.

Backup your data – If your computer or device got lost or stolen today, what would be the most annoying to you….losing the device or the data? If it’s the device then your insurance will cover it…..if it’s the latest business accounts and reports or all your holiday photos and music, then replacing these is a little more difficult.

Guest Wi-Fi – What happens if you allow a guest device onto your network but that device as a virus or malware already on it? With guest Wi-Fi, you are openly inviting devices on to your network but with the latest routers and access points your can ensure that these devices do not have access to other devices on your network and thus ensuring that the device does not spread its infection.

Managing Your Passwords

How many passwords do you use in your daily life? Do you use the same one for all accounts?

Online_Banking1Online banking, business applications, online shopping, mobile phone account access etc. all require you to create ‘complex’ passwords. To help make it easier, many people use simple and personal reminders to create them and then use the same password across multiple accounts, leaving our accounts vulnerable to hacking. For example;

How many of us use our personal information that is available publicly on our social networking pages, within our passwords? Children’s names, favourite pets, dates, education information etc. we happily publish this online and and is easily retrieved. So no personal data and using a complex password format it is.

What is a Complex Password?

A complex password should consist of 8 -14 characters, with uppercase and lowercase letters and also include special characters e.g. @!#. The best passwords are made up of a random selection of these characters but are then very difficult to remember and after locking yourself out of your Facebook account again, you may be tempted to revert back to your old habits.

Using simple reminders or personal information, in the complex format, may now seem like a good idea again but with basic hacking tools and a quick scan of your social networks ‘5ocKs2003!’ doesn’t pose a major problem for a mediocre hacker, and all because you love your cat! Facebook-Login_1

So, how do you ensure all your accounts are using a secure and unique password and that you will be able to remember easily and get access quickly? You use a password manager.

What is a Password Manager?

Firstly, a password manager is exactly that, a place where you manage all your passwords. A Password Manager will collect and store any passwords you create when online, usually during account creation, or the next time you login to a site.

The initial benefit of this is that you only need to remember the one complex password to login to the password manager. All the others you can change to the most complex and obscure passwords imaginable and this tool will remember them. Changing all your accounts to obscure and complicated passwords will reduce the likelihood of your most important information being compromised.

A password manager is a Web Browser Plugin that links to its parent site for cloud storage. When you go to a site the plugin will check if it has an account entry for the site and auto populate if required. If you create a new account and password, it will ask you if you would like it saved and store it in the cloud. There are also Mobile Apps for when you are on the go, and they work the same way.

How secure is it?

To ensure your Password manager stays secure as possible, it will only allow you to create a complex password for the account and It will also use multi-factor authentication as an extra level of security. This means that when you use your username/complex password to login, it will also ask you to confirm your identity another way i.e. fingerprint, facial recognition or by using an authentication app on your mobile phone. With this extra level of authentication, someone could get your account name and password but will still not be able to get access to your stored passwords. Very Secure and also Free!!

Password Managers will also;

·        Generate complex passwords for you

·        Allow you to share access to a site, without sharing the actual password

·        Provide a phone app version for when you are mobile

·        Password strength reports to highlight poor/simple/duplicated passwords

Top 3 free password managers

·        LastPass

·        LogMeOnce

·        1U Password Manager

If you don’t think that a Password Manager is necessary, make sure your passwords follow best practices;

Password best practices

·        Always use complex passwords using Upper/lower and special characters

·        Do not use personal information in your passwords

·        Change your passwords every 12 weeks

·        If you think your password, or you your account, has been compromised change the password.