“I want to text my toaster!”

Unfortunately, despite rapid and progressive advances in technology we are still unable to create a textable toaster. We can, however, change lighting and temperature in a room; we can play music and stream content to any part of a house; we can even lock our doors and windows with a push of a button 10,000 miles away on ourĀ smartdevice.

As wireless technology develops it will be come easier to manage one’s home remotely. This development is not without its risks or shortcomings.

Security:

Cyber-security is fundamental to the equation of the SmartHome; storing information as benign as lighting or as severe as locking mechanisms can have far reaching consequences in the event of a data breach.

Imagine for a moment that a SmartHome service offered to keep your door lock codes on the cloud for ‘convenience’. That service is attacked and breached by hackers who distribute lock codes, home addresses, lighting information (schedules) to the highest bidder.

No doubt most SmartHome service providers will be more security conscious than that, but the scenario is still a valid one. Be cautious and thoughtful when considering a SmartHome security solution.

Financial:

Expensive!

Benefits:

The biggest benefit (and most obvious) is convenience. From the comfort of your couch, you can remotely turn on/off any light in your house and even dim them to a specific level! When you are driving across the country, or around the corner, you can simply tap your phone to lock your door.

In the opinion of these lowly technicians, SmartHome tech does not have a favorable cost/value ratio. Sure you can dim the lights from your couch, but is that worth $300?

Unless you are Bill Gates and have eleven figures in your bank account, SmartHome tech is more of a novelty than a necessity (like the clapper).

One of the tech questions I am most frequently asked is, “What is the best Antivirus out there?” To which I respond, “It’s different every six months.”

For the past 6-8 months, I’ve been a firm supporter of Avast Antivirus. It was an antivirus program that didn’t try and intimidate its user’s. It had a simple, intuitive interface and even let you choose “Pirate” as the announcement voice: brilliant! In addition to the well-designed interface, it seemed to be a really solid passive (live monitor) antivirus software. It caught malware when I suspected a computer to be infected and after one or two full scans, it showed the system as clean and I had no reason to believe otherwise.

In the past two or three months however, I’ve been getting a lot of calls about Windows and third party software acting a little wonky/erratic/spooky. Upon inspection, Avast is actually attacking software like Google Chrome! Boot times had slowed, some programs stopped working, malware started slipping through the nets!

What had happened? Why had one of the first ‘layman’s antivirus’ programs begun to devolve into another Norton?

I see a trend. Each year an antivirus program puffs out its chest and touts something about it having security professionals on the design team, or the most current virus profiles and now, the smallest digital footprint. Professionals and consumers flock to it and install it because their antivirus from last year started letting malware through and breaking programs or making their computer very slow. (See where I’m going with this?)

Norton Antivirus used to be the heavy hitter, then it became so resource dependent that it was worse than a virus for a computer. McAfee and AVG followed thereafter. McAfee was the first to fall into disrepair and eventually became as secure as swiss cheese. I recently worked with a client running AVG and it was one of the worst experiences I have ever had with an antivirus program; the details of which I’d be happy to share in a later post or comment thread. After AVG was an assortment of Bitdefender, Windows Security Essentials, Vyper and some others, but none really stood out as much as AVG or Norton. Avast came onto the scene but as I said before, it is in its decline now.

At netEffx, we are currently installing and recommending WebRoot. For the time being, its the fastest, most secure, low-profile antivirus on the market. We’ve installed it in a couple client networks and everyone seems to love it. We also always run Malwarebytes alongside our Antivirus, which I will talk about in a future article.

If you are looking for a quick and clean antivirus software, check out Webroot. It looks to be the new big thing.