Friday, April 05 2013
Changes in the availability and pricing of technology have brought the "smart home" from the richest tiers of homeownership to a quickly growing group of users.
According to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, smartphone and tablet apps let homeowners "turn lights on and off, let in a delivery person or see whether their kids are doing their homework — from anywhere in the world."
The Digital Life system developed by AT&T Mobility, now available in eight markets, lets you do everything from operate the garage doors to make sure your children are doing their homework, company executives say. And Comcast's XFinity package offers features from home security to Internet features like Facebook and Internet radio service Pandora on your TV.
Insurance companies are even getting into the act, giving users of these systems discounts on their insurance, with the amount based on the type of monitoring service and features, industry officials say.
"The moment that the savings are really showing (on insurance and utility bills), that's when this really becomes a no-brainer," says telecommunications analyst Roger Entner.
Source: "New technology monitors home from phone" (Chicago Tribune, 3/31/2013)
Tuesday, March 06 2012
Your smartphone may be putting you at increased risk for identity fraud, according to a new report issued by Javelin Strategy & Research.
According to the report, nearly 12 million Americans last year became victims of identity theft, an alarming 13 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Seven percent of those victims came from using the smartphone, the report says.
The report blamed smartphones and social media for making more Americans vulnerable to identity theft. The report says that Americans tend to be less cautious when using their smartphone or logged onto social media sites. Letting their guard down and not taking safety precautions can easily make them a target.
Sixty-two percent of smartphone users were found to not password protect their home screens, according to the report. As such, if you happen to misplace your phone, anyone can gain access to the device if you do not have a password on it.
Smartphone users also need to be careful about what apps they download. Some apps can contain viruses or can compromise your personal information. The report says services such as iTunes monitors apps and is a safer place to download apps than directly from a Web site page.
As for social media users, they can increase their chances of identity theft by revealing too much personal information online. For example, social media users should be more cautious about revealing information such as birth dates, where they went to high school, phone numbers, and additional personal information.
The report also warns Americans to be careful when you log onto a public wifi network and be cautious about the information you share, which may be more at risk.
Source: “Rise in Identity Fraud Tied to Smartphone Use,” Reuters News (Feb. 22, 2012)
Monday, June 27 2011
Smartphones and other mobile devices have transformed our use of the Internet, which now touches nearly every aspect of our lives. Nearly half of all Americans are expected to own a mobile device by the end of this year. While these tools provide users with convenient access to information and communications, they also carry risk.
Mobile users have recently captured the attention of cyber criminals who seek to take advantage of everyday citizens. In fact, experts predict that within three years, smartphones and mobile devices will surpass computers as the primary target for cyber crime. If a hacker can gain access to a mobile device, they can easily find e-mail addresses, stored passwords, banking information, social media accounts, and phone numbers – allowing them to steal your information, your money, and even your identity. That’s why practicing good cyber habits is so important.
You can protect yourself from cyber criminals by following the same safety rules you follow on your computer when using your smartphone. These include:
STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone. For more information on Stop.Think.Connect., please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.