Connect with us

Real Estate Technology

Smart homes spy on you, here’s how to spy back

(TECHNOLOGY) Wow surprise, smart homes spy on you constantly. Here’s why it matters, and how to spy back.

Published

on

smart homes

We’ve long talked about the risks and rewards of technology, especially IoT devices in the home. For every cool gadget, there’s a chance your information will get hacked or tracked.

Last year, Congress thought it would be fun to give Internet Service Providers (ISPs) power to spy on customer internet usage data and sell it. Which means your ISP can see all the data from your smart devices and profit from selling you out to third parties.

Some folks at Gizmodo decided to conduct an experiment to see how much data can be tracked from smart homes.

Back in December, Gizmodo senior reporter Kashmir Hill set up just about every smart device imaginable in her apartment including an Amazon Echo, smart TV, smart lights, toothbrushes, baby monitor, and even a mattress.

Hill’s colleague Surya Mattu, Gizmodo data reporter, configured a router to track the device’s network activity and give the duo the same view as Hill’s ISP.

They found that since the router’s installation in early December 2017, there was not a single day without activity from the router.

At least once a day, at least one of the smart devices sent data packets to the ISP, manufacturer, or third parties. If Hill told the living room to turn on the lights, Phillips got alerted. If the family watched something on Hulu, the smart TV sent information to data brokers.

Every action could be (and in most cases was) tracked and recorded, creating a vast data set about Hill’s daily routines and schedules.

Routine tracking may seem mundane since right now most of the data isn’t being used, just monitored and recorded. However, this data may have more impact in the future.

We already have car insurance companies that offer discounts for safe driving if you use their driving monitors. Cybersecurity expert David Choffnes points out we’re not too far from a world where smart toothbrushes may connect to dental insurance rates and discounts. We’ve explored how smart watches and even browser history could impact your health insurance rates and insurability. Right now it’s all theoretical, but the bones are there to create a tech-inspired Frankenstein.

Plus, it’s inherently creepy to think that an ISP could deduce your family’s schedule based on use of smart devices.

So how can you spy back to see what kind of data is being reported?

Well, for starters you’ll need to have some computer knowledge. Or a pal who is willing to help you out in your endeavor to be a smart home spy.

For the Gizmodo experiment, Mattu built a customized router using a Raspberry Pi 3, which is a tiny computer you can custom program. If you want to replicate their test, these run around $35 for a single board.

Fortunately, the Raspberry Pi 3 comes with built in wifi hardware so it should be fairly easy to configure it as a router if you already know how to use one.

Once connected to the internet and set up as a wifi router, you’ll add the script to monitor network traffic. For this part, you need an understanding of Git and Github.

Next, set up a server so you can store traffic. Mattu and Hill used Amazon Web Services, but you can use your own server if you want. They also crafted a front-end interface to analyze the data.

Note the times when you connect and use the devices for easier analysis. If you want more details about setting up your very own smart home data traffic monitoring router, check out their article.

Some of the information collected from the devices may seem trivial. After all, what does it really matter if Philips knows what time you get up in the morning? Hill noted the data being sent is “basic, boring, information, but revealing information about how we live our life.”

This data could start to matter if companies and ISPs use your information control how you use their devices and how products are sold to you.

TV watching data is already being sold to data brokers. It’s just a matter of time before your sleep score from a smart mattress gets reported to your health insurance to determine coverage or something equally Big Brother-like.

Smart homes are predicted to be a $27 billion market by 2021, with an unprecedented number of new devices in our homes. Before rushing out to get the latest smart device, make sure you’re fully aware of what data you may be inadvertently sharing with companies.

Check out different products’ privacy policies before buying to make sure you’re cool with what information the device will be sending. And if you don’t want your ISP to know how often you make lattes, maybe opt for a coffee maker that isn’t wifi-enabled.

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Real Estate Technology

Copper makes CRM integration even easier with G-Suite partnership

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Newer CRM touts ability to work from within G-Suite 100% of the time. Now, there’s no need to leave your inbox to view your CRM tool.

Published

on

CRM solution from Copper

Finding a working CRM (Customer Relationship Management Software) for Gmail is no small feat. Sure, there are options, but do any of them really integrate 100% with G-Suite? Not really, and that’s why Copper, G-Suite’s newest partner in crime, is taking a stab at being G-Suite’s dedicated CRM.

Now, we’ve spoken about CRMs before, like Top Producer CRM, which, in 2013, bragged about its integration with Google Drive. But from what we know, Copper is totally different in that it’s less expensive, has far better reviews, and offers 24/7 support.

Furthermore, what also makes Copper different is that it was created with efficiency in mind. They wanted to remove the negatives of average CRMs, like data entry, administrative hassles, and a generally clunky interface. Their focus is in a positive user-experience, which totally makes sense because hey, if a CRM isn’t easy to use, what sales person in their right mind would want to use it?

I’ve written about some of my experiences with startups before. More often than not, they tend to jump the gun and start with something vastly too complex, like Salesforce. Don’t get me wrong; Salesforce is an amazing tool, but the majority of startups really don’t need something so complicated.

With Copper, your CRM is connected directly to Gmail. As a matter of fact, Google recommends them officially, according to a report by Small Biz Trends. Because of this, Copper touts the ability to do almost everything within Gmail directly, including the ability to update statuses and add sales pipeline “next steps”. It also syncs all your contacts, tasks, and events to your Google Calendar. Plus, with the integration, you’ll get notified when a customer opens your emails.

The CRM also connects directly with Google Drive, offering the ability to use products like Google Sheets with ease.

Kira Lenke is the Vice President of Marketing for Copper. According to Small Biz Trends, she says “At Copper, our focus is on collaboration and ease-of-use. We’re not trying to impose another desktop that users have to work from and learn how to use. Instead, we’re meeting people in a tool they’re already familiar with — G Suite. Placing Copper alongside the collaboration tools people already know and love allows for it to work seamlessly in the background, requiring almost no onboarding. Copper doesn’t demand any heavy administration and will even send reminders to you when it’s time to follow up with a prospect or customer. This gives small business owners time back to focus on what they do best — running their business and delivering exceptional customer experiences.”

And just in case you’re looking for a CRM that cares about the future of their product, and not just the profit it can obtain from customers, you’re in luck. As of this week, the company has hired a brand new Vice President of Product, Wyndham Hudson. According to their press release, “In this role, he will lead the product and design teams, as well as set the product strategy and direction for the company.”

Copper’s CEO, Dennis Fois, also added that “Wyndham’s experience of bringing products to market and scaling a startup globally will be invaluable as we look to elevate our SMB customers to the next level in 2020 and beyond.”

Copper’s target market is SMBs (small to mid-size businesses), so if you’re looking for a pretty healthy looking toolset that lives within your Gmail account, look no further – Copper may be right for you.

Continue Reading

Real Estate Technology

AI can now transcribe podcasts better than people can #robopocalypse

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) AI can do yet another thing better and faster than people, transcribe podcasts. But hey it helps those are disadvantaged so that step forward for good AI!

Published

on

podcast transcribe by AI

As we’ve said before, practically everyone is throwing their hat into the podcasting realm. And, there’s a podcast for virtually anything you can imagine (from cool music podcasts, to one all about The West Wing, to one about conversations with spirits – and, with this, I’ve let you know a lot about myself in a little amount of space).

As such, more tools are being developed to help podcasters with their project. Recently, we’ve seen many tools that help market a podcast. Now, with the use of our good friend AI, podcasters can transcribe their recordings in minutes (around 12 to be exact).

Podcast Transcribe allows a user to upload the recording of their podcast (in MP3, WAV, FLAC, or MP4) and then AI works its magic to transcribe everything (for just $5 per podcast). Their purpose with this tool is to make podcasts more accessible to everyone – including those who are hard of hearing. Additionally, transcriptions can be useful to students as quoted text is helpful with research. Another element this can be useful with is video podcasts and the ability to create more accurate subtitles to include before uploading.

The website boasts the transcriptions of over 2,700 podcasts, over 1,365 hours of audio, and 213 Beatles songs (because, no matter the capability of a tool, The Beatles are always relevant). They then break the process down a bit further and explain the following steps to successfully transcribe a podcast.

First, download the audio file of your podcast. Second, make sure the file is under 100MB because the platform cannot support anything more at the current time. Third, an advanced mode is available if transcribing podcasts in a language other than English. Fourth, enter your email address to receive the transcribed file. Fifth, find something to do for 12 minutes while the tool transcribes the file.

The number of podcasts you can transcribe is infinite, and is priced per podcast rather than a subscription fee like most other tools. The price is certainly the driving force for this tool, as AI is not always one hundred percent accurate, and a human transcription tool like Rev is likely to be more on point.

Are you willing to try AI for your transcription needs?

Continue Reading

Real Estate Technology

AI can now identify who you are based on your unique typing style #yikes

(TECH) New tech means new security measures and abilities, this AI can recognize and identify individuals based on their typing style and speed.

Published

on

typing on a laptop

So I’m not the world’s fastest or most accurate typist, but apparently new tech can identify even me, along with anyone else with 99-99.9% accuracy by analyzing their typing style.

TypingDNA has created an AI system for recognizing and identifying people by their typing styles, using what they call typing biometrics. This is simply noting the timing of how quickly or slowly an individual presses the keys on their keyboard.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s actually tech that’s around 20 years old but until more advanced AI technology progressed, it was too inaccurate. Now though, they can tout a huge accuracy score because of the improvement of modern technology.

The creation of this type of software can be, and is, used to add extra layers of security for banks, payment apps, and even for educational institutions. It’s easy to see the draw of additional safety for banks, but the integration of AI into the school systems is actually pretty inventive. It’s mostly being used to verify that what writing assignments students are turning in are actually their own work and is not plagiarized.

This tech isn’t limited to desktops and laptops, it’s also available for mobile use, which relies on the typing as well as other built-in phone security features. The API is open to be used by anyone with the hopes of developers finding new creative uses for the system, so it’s no surprise that TypingDNA wants their tech out there and in the hands of others who can contribute.

Of course, with any cool, new technology, there’s always the possibility for flaws. For instance, security cameras like Xiaomi have recently been reported to stream photos from an owner’s own device to a neighbor’s Google Home. This obviously concerns consumers about security.

Any new software can have the potential to be exploited by those who want your information, and even with security measures in place, if they’re determined, they’re certain to find a back door. And because this tech is also used in financial institutions, it’s possible your money could be at risk. It’s also being used in online security for banking, to prove that the person entering the login and password are truly the owner of the account.

But what if you’re elderly? What if you have a disabling injury or disease that affects the use of your hands? Or, what if you get a new keyboard and it slows you down? Are these types of things going to affect access to your own information and how the institution views you?

Does anyone else remember key loggers, and how users felt their privacy was being breached? Could users feel the same way about this AI? I think so! Cynical minds like mine may agree that this AI is just another way for every part of our lives to be broken down into data points that are analyzed, tracked, and sold to the highest bidder and I, for one, am against it.

Finally, a question that comes to mind in relation to proper identification of individuals is “is there is a speed limit?” My wife, for example, has a typing speed of 200 WPM (words per minute) – sometimes more. At this point, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify anyone based on their keystrokes because of the pace. Can the system actually differentiate between someone who types 200 WPM and someone who types 201 WPM? It seems to me that this technology just may not be ready for the applications it’s touting.

Regardless though, this technology just goes to show that humans are incredibly inventive, creative, and possibly invasive.

I think this is amazing technology but maybe hunt and peck is the best way to type if you’re nervous about your data. Sure, it’s slow… very slow… OK, really slow, but if it’ll protect your data, who cares if it takes 12 hours to write a paragraph?

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Parnters

Get The Daily Intel
in your inbox

Subscribe and get news and EXCLUSIVE content to your email inbox!

Still Trending

Get The American Genius
in your inbox

subscribe and get news and exclusive content to your email inbox