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Amazon, Apple, Google and Zigbee Alliance partner

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12/19/2019

SEATTLE and CUPERTINO, MOUNTAIN VIEW and DAVIS, Calif.—Amazon, Apple, Google and Zigbee Alliance announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products.

What images and color(s) represent the word ‘cybersecurity’?

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Some studies have found that the human brain actually processes words by recognizing each word heard through the ears and seen with the eyes as an individual picture. I know when I’m listening to a podcast or lecture, the radio, reading something, etc. and I hear or see a word that is delightful to me, my mind engages, blooming a series of images that represent that word. In other words, I see pictures in my mind related to what I heard or saw.

Let’s say, for example, you just heard the word ‘cybersecurity.” What images popped into your mind? For me, it’s images of hooded people in basements crouched over a laptop, padlocks, computers with data flying out of it as if it’s being stolen, etc. 

Believe it or not, how people “see” the word cybersecurity is a big deal, as images can conjure up false realities of what it actually is and encompasses. And, with digital being such a major part of our lives, pictures/images provide the visual communication we are accustomed to.

The Daylight Security Research Lab, part of the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at U.C. Berkeley, compiled a dataset of the most common cybersecurity-related images used on the Internet during a two-year period of Google Image Search results for 28 terms related to privacy and cyber security. Every week for two years, the research team entered terms, such as cybersecurity, camera surveillance, camera privacy and more (you can see all 28 here) into a custom Google Search Engine (Google CSE). For each term searched, 100 images were scraped using a script, resulting in three sets of search terms each aimed at the following: 

  • Set 1: general technologies, technical themes or topics;
  • Set 2: representations of abstract ideas or practices; and
  • Set 3: Dave Eggar’s book, “The Circle,” which at the time of the study was a best-seller and represented topics of interest related to this study. 

Though the Berkeley researchers are continuing to analyze the seven gigabytes of collected imagery data, preliminary analyzations found that the most common colors used in cybersecurity imagery online are blue, grey, black and red, while padlocks and abstract network diagrams are the most common images. 

In my opinion, fear should not be the driver that encourages people to take action to stay safe. Yet, this research shows that the majority of images and colors related to cybersecurity do just that. Dark colors, in this case, blue, grey and black, are frequently associated with evil, mystery and fear. Red is often associated with danger. Just these four colors alone can communicate and evoke fear, and when used along with padlocks and images of computer networks, the message is clear: cybersecurity = fear. 

People should know the truth about cybersecurity —in words and in pictures — so that they can make educated decisions on how to best protect themselves, not fear mongered into it. Therefore, it’s important to create and use realistic imagery and pictures when it comes to discussing and presenting cybersecurity online. 

Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

TMA, ESA dispute Google’s claim

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Monitoring Association (TMA) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA) are calling out Google on its recent statement — “security systems often use microphones” — noting that such statements “misrepresent the vast majority of today’s residential security systems installed throughout the country.”

The dispute follows recent reporting by Business Insider, CNN Business and many other publications that have highlighted the undisclosed, on-board microphone discovered in Google’s Nest Guard Security Device — raising serious privacy concerns among consumers.

Since audio recording includes privacy and legal complexities, it’s not extremely common in residential installations, the associations noted, pointing out that security professionals and integrators consult with customers and ensure all federal and state laws are abided by.

“Adding audio surveillance can certainly make for a more robust system,” ESA President Chris Mosley said in a prepared statement. “We’re seeing exciting advancements in the audio surveillance category, such as acoustic sensors and microphones that can help us detect gunfire or when voices become elevated that could indicate potential violence. However, sweeping statements to infer that residential systems commonly have this feature are simply not accurate.”

Richard Brent, CEO, Louroe Electronics, an ESA Member company and 40-year-old manufacturer of audio-based technologies, agrees, noting, “Sound-based technology in security systems is common in law enforcement, institutional, and smart city installations. However, the use of microphones for surveillance in residences is extremely rare on account of heightened expectations of privacy.”

According to both associations, adding microphones and audio capabilities to security systems adds another level of precaution that must be taken to install the system in a way that protects the privacy of the consumer.

“Security systems are now an important part of the customer home experience in that we can integrate with audio assistance,” TMA President Ivan Spector said. “However professionally installed and monitored security systems are not designed to record data and conversations unbeknownst to our customers.”

Professionally installed systems have the backing of technology experts who know the full capability of the system and its components and can appropriately safeguard these systems, so as not to compromise privacy.

Vivint Smart Home and Google collaborate

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06/27/2018

PROVO, Utah—Vivint Smart Home announced a collaboration with Google to make every new Vivint smart home voice-enabled using the Google Assistant. Vivint is giving voice control to every new customer by including two Google Home Mini devices with every smart home system, and adding Nest Thermostat E and Google Wifi as options in its smart home suite.

Smart home wars heating up

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just as we have seen with the smart phone revolution, the battle for the smart home looks like it will be just as hotly contested, as there is no denying that consumers today are embracing the smart home concept. 

Studies are popping up weekly confirming that demand is increasing for smart home products and services as homeowners learn more about smart home and home automation technology available today.

The latest research, from market research firm Berg Insight out of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that North America is leading the global smart home market with 12.7 million smart homes in 2015, a 56 percent year-on-year growth. According to the research, the strong market growth is expected to last for years to come, driving the number of smart homes in North America to 46.2 million by 2020, which corresponds to 35 percent of all households.

The study found that the most successful products in the smart home market include smart thermostats, security systems, smart lighting, network cameras, and multi-room audio systems.

“There is no doubt that regular consumers in the future will own and operate a wide range of connected objects in their homes, from connected home appliances and luminaires to thermostats and security devices,” said Johan Svanberg, senior analyst, Berg Insight. “Attractive use cases, interoperable devices, and well-implemented user interfaces are needed in order to accelerate the market.”

Although Amazon Echo’s Alexa is leading the smart home charge right now, Apple is making a serious play with its announcement at its Worldwide Developers Conference last week of its new app called Home, which will be a hub on the iPhone for all the connected devices in the home. The app is the logical next step for Apple’s HomeKit platform, and both work with Siri, who is getting some improvements and upgrades as well.

Apple also announced that it is working with homebuilders—Brookfield Residential, Lennar and KB Home—to build homes later this year that come with built-in Apple HomeKit infrastructure.

Other major players in this battle for the voice-driven smart home include Microsoft with its Cortana voice platform, and Google Home’s Assistant, which was announced in May. Rumors abound that both Microsoft and Google, like Apple, are gearing up for a serious play for a piece of the smart home market. 

Apple’s brand equity with consumers, though, shouldn’t be ignored, as it is not a big leap to think that consumers would be willing to take the plunge into the smart home market with Apple, a company they know will be able to provide a complete, somewhat air-tight system from the ground up, so to speak.

One negative for Apple is its seemingly late entry into the smart home space, where many early adopters are already using many smart home products that will not work with Apple’s HomeKit platform, which requires using a special encryption chip. Some HomeKit-certified products are currently available from companies like Honeywell, August and Phillips Hue, and Apple said that there are close to 100 more compatible products coming this year.

Stay tuned, because things are starting to get interesting in the smart home space.

From Microsoft to Google at Cloud+

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

At the very last session of the Cloud+ conference, Brivo's Jonathan Healey noted that the Cloud+ conference began with a speaker from Microsoft and ended with a speaker from Google. "Five years ago [the idea that you'd have that line-up at a physical security conference] would be preposterous, he said.

He's right, our industry has come a long way in five years. That was a recurring theme at the Cloud+ conference, but we've also got a long way to go.

Speaker after speaker talked about the opportunities—for integrator and end user alike—in cloud-based systems. There are two stories in our newswire today about the conference: one about the keynote speaker, Monica Hopelian of MIcrosoft and one about investment and "the new security dealer," a session presented by John Mack and moderated by yours truly.  Amy's blog this week gives an overview of the sessions.

Look for more stories over the next week.

One of the topics John Mack talked about was M&A activity and investor interest in cloud-based technology. I can tell you there was investor interest at the conference this week. Many attendees were asking me if I could get them audio from the sessions and Powerpoint slides. Two attendees pulled me aside halfway through day two and  said it would be really great if I could get them the slides "within the hour." I told them they would need to wait until I was done emceeing the event.

Clearly some valuable information at Cloud+

One of the most popular sessions at Cloud+ was about cybersecurity in the cloud, presented by Rodney Thayer. Before you get too excited about your "Cloud Bling," you (both the folks who are making the stuff and the folks who are integrating the stuff) better ensure you're following cyber-safe practices, he advised. Is the Internet of Things, really just  the "Internet of Trouble?" he asked. Well, it could be. He reiterated what keynote speaker Monica Hopelian and another speaker Diebold's Jeremy Brecher said: that the physical security group should not be the weakest link in the chain. Thayer talked through some scary potential scenarios, before offering a series of practical guidelines and resources for integrators and manufacturers.

Interested in this topic? (yes you should be) Thayer will be at TechSec 2016. Here's a link to the educational program.  talking about cybersecurity on an educational session led by Kratos' Chris Peckham. Also speaking on that educational session will be Joe Coe of Hikvision. Hikvision, one of the fastest growing security companies in the world, has also suffered a couple of major cyber breaches. Don't miss it!

ADT’s new partnerships ‘push the boundary’

LG, Nest give ADT broader reach
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06/03/2015

BOCA RATON, Fla.—ADT’s recent partnership with LG Electronics and Google’s Nest is the company’s means to “push the boundary” between residential security and home automation with the goal of extending “protection and security to as many people as we can,” according to ADT chief innovation officer Arthur Orduña.

Industry divided on Google’s effect on security industry

News Poll: Few believe Google will seek professional monitoring
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05/19/2015

YARMOUTH, Maine—Google, in March of this year, acquired patents relating to residential security. Twelve months earlier, Google acquired the smart home thermostat Nest. Is Google planning a big move into the security space? Should the industry be nervous? Security Systems News readers were evenly divided among those who are worried, those who are not worried, and those who plan to worry about Google if and when it gets seriously involved in the industry.

ADT partners with LG Electronics, Nest

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05/14/2015

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Rumors that ADT is working with Google’s Nest are not rumors after all. ADT CEO Naren Gursahaney announced today at an investor conference that ADT is partnering with Google’s Nest and with LG Electronics.

Who’s afraid of Google?

Smart resi providers should take Google’s move into home security seriously, but could wind up benefitting from it
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04/01/2015

YARMOUTH, Maine—Google’s venture into home security and automation may turn out to be a very good thing for traditional resi companies, according to providers interviewed by Security Systems News.

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