Category Archives: Commercial

KRACK Attack!

By now you may have heard about a newly found vulnerability in Wi-Fi security called KRACK and may be wondering what it means to you. Without going too far down the technical rabbit hole, I’ll try to explain the risk.

KRACK is the industry short name for Key Reinstallation Attacks. A discovery was made back in July by researchers in a White Hat (the good guys) hacking lab that showed how the encryption of network traffic using WPA2 security could be negated. They passed their findings on to the appropriate government agencies and manufacturers who then took action to correct the problem with firmware/product updates. This past Monday they made the public aware of the problem with the encryption protocol.

What did not happen was some explanation of what it means to the general public. Since it is only applicable to Wi-Fi networks, the first thing to know is that anyone who wants to break the encryption must be in range of the Wi-Fi signal. If they can’t see the Wi-Fi then they can’t exploit the problem. The second thing is that the Wi-Fi password is required to begin the KRACK attack. If the hacker does not have the password then they cannot kick off the hack. Because of those 2 things, the risk to most folks is minimal.

There are a few things that can be done to protect yourself from KRACK. First, install the updates when you are notified of them. This is very important as the problem affects ALL devices. Every PC, Mac, smart phone, thermostat, washer & dryer, etc. with Wi-Fi capabilities has the problem. FYI companies like Microsoft released a patch for the Windows operating system on Tuesday with their monthly updates. Others will follow suit shortly. Again, install the updates.

Second, when logging into a website be sure that you are doing so with HTTPS, not HTTP. HTTPS encrypts the data between your device and the server that you are communicating. You will see this in the address bar of the browser. The address of the website should begin with HTTPS://. With this you will also see a little lock symbol adjacent to the address. These mean that your data is encrypted and not sent in readable text.

My take on KRACK. Since the hacker must be on the Wi-Fi network, the exposure is reduced for most people. Businesses with multiple Wi-Fi networks as part of their total IT systems are more exposed than consumers because of that configuration/environment. Essentially, if you update your devices you will be protected. This problem has been around since the WPA2 encryption language was written many years ago. It only took so long to discover it because the encryption protocol has been doing its job keeping things encrypted and secure. That will not change.

My biggest concern is what will happen to your components when the Internet service providers push out updates to their equipment. As was mentioned earlier, ALL equipment has this problem. Every router from Comcast, Cox Communications and Verizon has this issue. If the carriers push out updates in the middle of the night, things that were working the day prior may have problems the next morning. Let’s hope all goes smoothly on their end with these updates.

Lew

Anticipated Trends in Electronics for 2017

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), took the stage at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York to offer sales predictions the future of electronics.

1. The New Voice of Computing: Voice control will take over as the next computer interface.

2. Connections & Computations: The widening availability of broadband and Wi-Fi will lead to increased uniformity and adoption of smart-home technology, including increased autonomous living.

3. Transportation Transformation: There will be more vehicle technology such as driver assistance and self-driving cars.

4. AI’s Infusion into Our Lives & Business: Just as computers have influenced how we do our jobs today, artificial intelligence will play a similar role in the way we work, communicate and access information.

5. Digitizing the Consumer Experience: Both virtual reality and augmented reality will be the new forms of entertainment.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Now available from Samsung

While 4K has now been about over a year, Blu-ray DVD players have not been able to show movies in 4K quality. Consumers have been dependent on streaming to see 4K movies. But, now Samsung has produced a 4K ultra HD Blu-ray player for your added enjoyment. It reveals up to 64X Greater Color Expression than Conventional Blu-ray and Fast Action Moves Super Smooth Across the Screen with 60 frames per second.

Add this player to your 4K TV and watch your favorite 4K produced movies again and again.

2016 Consumer Electronic Show

The Consumer Electronics Show is over and the word around town is that it wasn’t a whole lot different from the 2015 show when it comes to AV electronics. Not surprising to us as we generally get wind of anything really HUGE hitting the market, at least in our industry.
Lew & I attended CES back in 2010, shortly after I joined the business. It was the year the super thin LEDs TVs were launched. Now that was exciting. An entire convention hall filled to the brim with thousands of flat screen TVs set up in every possible contortion by the big name manufacturers; Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Sony. Truthfully, it was overwhelming, but very cool to see.

It was also the year of 3D TV and yes there were quite a few people that looked rather green after trying out the new glasses. There was still some work to be done and perhaps still is to this day.

What is interesting is that some of the futuristic products back then are now making their “go to market” debut this year, and they are even more impressive, such as smart appliances. If you want a refrigerator that can tell you via an app what the inside of your refrigerator looks like, then it is here now. With an infrared camera inside, you see the contents via an app and then can stop by the store rather than call your kid to ask if you are out of milk.

Wearables are very big this year. From smart bracelets, to belts to ski vests, electronic manufacturers are counting on consumers expanding beyond the smart phone for information.

Robotic devices are also the rage. AI technology we once only saw in the movies is now becoming a consumer reality for security, information, cleaning, and even simply friendship, with limitations of course.

If you’ve never been to the Consumer Electronics Show and that inner geek has you curious, you won’t be disappointed. One…it’s in Vegas, Two…its dirt cheap, if not free and Three…you are more than welcomed by a hoard of manufacturer reps who want to sell you on their latest & greatest device that will…maybe…be available that year. Of course, I spent my time in 2011 learning about wall mounting brackets, cables, and other non-exciting but totally necessary products for an AV integrator. Yes…they do have pretty much everything at CES. Maybe, just maybe we’ll go to the 2017 show. It has been awhile and…it is in Vegas. Yippee!

Written by Bonnie Little

Ring Video Doorbell

Time Magazine said this is “One of the top 10 Gadgets of 2014” and we agree. The ring video doorbell replaces your regular doorbell. It is about 5” H and 2 ½ W which includes a mini camera & the doorbell unit is available in 4 different finishes to blend in with the exterior décor.

This doorbell is connected to your portable device, i.e. smart phone or tablet. When someone rings the doorbell, an alert is send to your device and then with the touch of an app, you get to see who is at your door. It works with both IOS & Android devices and even has a motion detection so if someone is near the device it will activate an alert before they even ring the doorbell. How cool is that?

While they do tout Easy Installation (no professional help required), we do want to recommend you have above basic networking knowledge and some handyman skills. In addition, while it can replace the old doorbell, some doorbells may be in locations that make them undesirable to remove so it could involve installing this at a new destination point & finding a creative way to remove or cover your existing doorbell.

Learn more at www.ring.com.