Keep safe and se­cure with con­nected tech

Pro­tect your home the clever way – and use se­cu­rity func­tions for con­ve­nience too

Mac Format - - CONTENTS -

Your home is a sanc­tu­ary. it’s where ev­ery­thing im­por­tant hap­pens. Valu­able equip­ment is smaller, lighter and eas­ier to dis­pose of than it ever was. Cars, now se­cured by ad­vanced im­mo­bil­i­sa­tion, aren’t hotwired away any more – thieves would sooner dart into your house, take the keys and be gone with your ve­hi­cle in sec­onds. If you hap­pen to be tar­geted you’ll want to know about it fast, em­ploy the most se­cure meth­ods you can to for­tify your home, and – if worst comes to worst – have the ev­i­dence you need to catch the cul­prit.

In­vest­ing in home se­cu­rity kit is about far more than se­cu­rity in the long run. There’s a big layer of con­ve­nience to it, a large dash of self-as­sur­ance and, mixed with the rest of your smart kit, a vast ex­ten­sion of the bounds of your smart home. So let’s start with the more friv­o­lous side of se­cu­rity. We’re fond of the idea of Blue­tooth- or even Wi-Fi-en­abled locks, which you can re­lease or se­cure based on prox­im­ity or the touch of a smart­phone but­ton. They’re just reach­ing ma­tu­rity now. Some look at these de­vices as in­se­cure be­cause, well, they must be, right? But that’s not nec­es­sar­ily the case – a smart lock is po­ten­tially more dif­fi­cult to crack than the pick­able man­ual va­ri­ety.

Yale’s Nest × Yale lock, to give one ex­am­ple, is a quick re­place­ment for an ex­ist­ing dead­lock, and of­fers up a key­pad into which you can pro­gram (and quickly re­voke) up to 20 ac­cess codes. You can open it by tap­ping a smart key if your hands are full, or lock it (with an op­tion to do so au­to­mat­i­cally, should you for­get) via the Nest app. There are many more elec­tronic locks with smart func­tions in­cluded, but, as ever, we’d rec­om­mend avoid­ing the cheaper end of the mar­ket, as we can’t vouch for the se­cu­rity (or po­ten­tial by­pass meth­ods) of the wave of cheap clones flood­ing in from the East.

Sound the alarm

Of course, what is se­cu­rity with­out an alarm? It’s very easy to see why the new crop of smart alarm sys­tems is leagues ahead of the clas­sic sen­sor-and-siren com­bi­na­tion. The old way has plenty of mer­its, but it’s awk­ward to in­stall – gen­er­ally not a DIY job – and once it’s in, you’re pretty much stuck to the net­work of sen­sors you’ve in­stalled. A smart alarm can be built upon from the ground up; you can add sen­sors later, you can (if you pick the right op­tions) tweak the sen­sors to ig­nore pets or in­deed raise their sen­si­tiv­ity, and in most cases you’ll be able to arm or dis­arm your se­cu­rity sys­tem, or spe­cific zones of it, from an app or web-based in­ter­face.

It’s also worth not­ing that sirens have be­come so ubiq­ui­tous as to be eas­ily ig­nored. When was the last time you ac­tu­ally in­ves­ti­gated an alarm, rather than just be­ing an­noyed by it? With a smart alarm, or even some­thing as straight­for­ward as a cheap door or win­dow sen­sor (see Mac­For­mat #330), you can be alerted to un­ex­pected in­cur­sions

straight away – and silently, if you choose. That no­ti­fi­ca­tion can come di­rectly to your phone or to your email in an in­stant. Re­ally, any­thing can be used as an alarm. The out­door cam­eras op­po­site all fea­ture mo­tion sens­ing, of­ten within a se­lected re­gion of the pic­ture, so you won’t be alerted to ev­ery car driv­ing past. You may end up with a few more false pos­i­tives, but bet­ter to be safe than sorry, right?

Cre­at­ing com­bos

Smart sys­tems are ad­vanc­ing the con­ve­nience of se­cu­rity, and they’re also ad­vanc­ing its con­nec­tiv­ity. You don’t have to be the only one alerted if you col­lab­o­rate clev­erly with your neigh­bours or friends. Se­cu­rity de­vices can be re­pur­posed eas­ily for other things while still do­ing their in­tended job – trig­ger­ing lights with the same mo­tion sen­sors you’re us­ing to mon­i­tor your front door, for ex­am­ple, or switch­ing off your heat­ing when a sen­sor shows a win­dow has been opened. A smart lock doesn’t just se­cure your front door – it can tell you who’s opened it and when. Per­fect if teenagers are slip­ping in and out at all hours of the night.

Smart tech also gives us ac­cess to more sen­si­tive and proac­tive de­vices be­yond the stan­dard sen­sors. Sam­sung’s SmartThings Mul­ti­pur­pose Sen­sor, for in­stance, can look out for spe­cific pat­terns of vi­bra­tion, mean­ing it can sound the alarm be­fore any­one can make it through your door. Philips’ Hue Mo­tion sen­sor could be put to work to flash the lights in your bed­room if it de­tects any funny busi­ness at night, silently rous­ing you. As ever with smart home tech, it’s the way you put those de­vices to work that makes the real dif­fer­ence, and that’s a limit that’s only bound by your in­ge­nu­ity.

More tra­di­tional alarms are still vi­able: Nest Se­cure ties into an ex­ist­ing Nest setup, for ex­am­ple.

Door and win­dow sen­sors like Sam­sung’s can also pro­tect your valu­ables – or, er, clean­ing prod­ucts – in your home.

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