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Home Remodeling – Technology Style

Homes were caught short when everybody had to stay home to work, learn and entertain themselves. Wi-Fi networks and the internet had to carry much more traffic, and the rapid rise of new technology needs created holes for hackers to tunnel into systems. Here’s what you need to do.

First, shore up your security. Treat every device in your home that’s connected to the internet like it’s a block of gold in Fort Knox. Make sure your gateways, routers and firewalls have up-to-date security patches and bug fixes installed and running. Do the same for the firmware for every piece of hardware and software for every operating system and application that everyone in your household uses. That includes all of your smart-home devices and TVs – and make sure you have changed the default user names and passwords that came along with those devices.

We can’t emphasize this enough. That’s because between work, school and socializing, we all have more people coming in contact with our systems and every other system we’re connected to. If you have weakspots in your home system, the security of your personal financial and health data could be at risk, and so could the systems at your place of work.

In short, you may need to “remodel” the technical architecture of your home to make sure your systems and devices are airtight.

Second, make sure everyone in your home understands the security settings of all the new software you’re using for work, school and social interaction. We and our kids are all into using the latest and coolest collaboration tools, and the providers of those tools and the users need to pay special attention to how to set them up and use them safely.

Zoom is the collaboration tool that comes immediately to mind. Ever since stay-at-home orders went into effect some three weeks ago, very few people knew about Zoom, which is still considered a startup company. To encourage people to use it, Zoom quickly spread the word about its free service that allows 100 people to gather interactively online for up to 40 minutes. The two operative words here are both four-letter words: Zoom and free. You get what you pay for.

To make a long story short, Zoom rushed out the adaptation of a business application as a consumer app, and it left a lot of security holes. Two of the glaring issues, which were acted on by Zoom two weeks ago, were the sale of user data to partners for marketing purposes and the insidious “Zoombombing” incidents. The latter problem led to hackers placing porn material in school lessons and white-supremacist invasions of meetings, classes and chats sponsored by religious organizations.

Zoom stopped some of the data sales and reworked its privacy setup. It also ramped up the security requirements for people to join a Zoom session.

One other thing that home users likely have noticed is the drop-in internet speeds from their ISPs. That’s a consequence of the ISPs trying to manage the massive demand for data. As a result, you’ll all need to manage your internet use to optimize performance in your homes.

We can help you with security audits, setting up security software and automatic updates for firmware and software. We can also help you with security settings for apps like Zoom. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for an appointment.