Conservatory consternation for customer
MR J’s TOP CONSUMER TIPS PLASTER ANDWINDOW WOE AFTER INSTALLATION
WARNING mums and dads – your kids probably know more about today’s gadgets than you do but there are still things you should do to keep them safe, especially if you’re planning to buy them new technology for Christmas.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has shared tips to make sure buying and using modern tech goes without the fear of being hacked.
Deputy commissioner Steve Wood says: “We want parents, guardians and others to consider data protection and privacy issues in the same way they would check on the safety of presents they’re planning to give to children.
“We want those buying connected items in the coming weeks to take a pause and think about both the child’s online safety, and also the potential threat to their own personal data such as bank details, if a toy, device or a supporting app is hacked into.”
Here are his tips:
1. Research the security of a product before buying
Doing your homework before buying a connected device should allow you to recognise those with poor security. Research online reviews and manufacturers’ websites for information on privacy notices and policies. You should also look to see how a product will be updated in the future if a security issue is identified.
2. Take care when shopping online
At this time of year, when online shopping is nearing its peak, scammers may be more likely to try to access your personal information such as bank account or credit card details. Only use secure sites when shopping online – they usually carry the padlock symbol before the address. Get Safe Online has protection advice.
3. Take your time
Don’t wait until Christmas Day, when excited children will want to just turn on a new toy or device and skip as much of the set-up process as they can. Take the time beforehand to read the manual and familiarise yourself with the security and privacy options.
4. Change passwords and usernames from default
Default password or code protection will only provide the most basic security. Default credentials for many devices can be freely available on the web. You should always change the defaults immediately and choose a strong password. Use a different password for each account and device.
5. Is your router secure?
Your router is the first line of defence on the perimeter of your home network. If you have devices connected to your network, the default settings of your router might be exposing them to the internet and therefore everyone else. Create a strong password and look out for and install security updates.
6. If there’s a two-step identification option, use it
Two-step authentication offers you an additional layer of security when logging in to an online service. While few devices will offer this service, the website you use to view its data might.
7. Be camera aware – you never know who’s watching
Some toys and devices are fitted with web cameras. The ability to view footage remotely is both their biggest selling point and, if not set up correctly, potentially their biggest weakness, as the baby monitor hacking issue of a few years ago demonstrated. If you have no intention of viewing footage over the internet, then turn the remote viewing option off in settings, or else use strong, non-default passwords.
8. Location, location, location
One of the main selling points of children’s smart watches is the ability for parents to know where their children are at all times. However, if this isn’t done securely, then others might have access to this data as well. Immediately get rid of default location tracking and GPS settings and set strong, unique passwords.
9 Bluetooth ache
It is not just potentially insecure web connections that can put children‘s online safety at risk. Some toys and devices have been found to have unencrypted Bluetooth connections. Consider disabling this or, where possible, set a strong password.
10. Children have information rights too
Have age-appropriate conversations with kids about online safety. Children’s information rights and privacy are a key area of concern for the ICO. We are funding independent research into this area, are active members of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and new legislation coming next year will also strengthen children’s legal rights.
11. If in doubt, don’t splash out
If you aren’t convinced a smart toy or connected/wearable device will keep your children or your personal information safe, then don’t buy it. If consumers reject products that won’t protect them, then developers and retailers should soon get the message.
12. Have a secure Christmas
By taking some time and care beforehand and following our advice, you can still see a child’s face light up when they open their tech present, safe in the knowledge you are keeping them secure too. THE boss of a kitchen and conservatory company admitted work was not up to scratch when I investigated a complaint from a customer.
Derek Bolton confessed the plastering work on a conservatory was not up to standard.
The admission came when I asked him about customer Eileen Holmes.
Eileen had come to me with a complaint about Kitchens Plus and I wanted to hear what he had to say.
She said the plastering was poor and a window would have to be screwed down because it banged against a downpipe.
She said the plasterwork was so bad that she was losing sleep.
“I have been devastated by the whole experience and wished I had never come in contact with Kitchens Plus,” she told me.
“I could not believe that plastering could look so bad.”
Derek admitted something had gone wrong with the work of a contractor.
He said: “There were some issues with the quality of plastering which were identified by the customer and our installation manager agreed that the standard is not what we would normally accept.
“We as a company were not happy with the result so instructed an alternative plasterer to remedy the issues.
“The customer was unhappy with the new work done so we sent the owner of the plastering firm to see her.
“Despite the owner of the company being satisfied the new work was done within industry tolerances the customer was still unhappy.
“So, purely as a gesture of goodwill and at substantial cost, he agreed to start again from scratch.
“Yet again, Mrs Holmes claimed the work was not satisfactory.
“The owner has agreed, still at substantial cost, to have the room painted free of charge.”
Even then, Eileen, of Blyth, was unhappy and more work was carried out. And what about the window?
Eileen said: “They have suggested screwing the window down. What’s the point of a window which does not open and close?”
I asked Derek about this and he said it could not be helped.
He admitted an existing downpipe prevented it from opening. He said the choice was to fix the win- dow down or amend the design which would mean that the six panels of the conservatory did not match.
“The customer was informed at point of technical survey that the window would not open fully and she a c c e p t e d this,” he said.