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AI Can Help Protect Smart Home IoT Devices from Hackers




Smart home hubs and IoT devices, poised for dramatic growth, have an immature security infrastructure. AI can help manage the complexity. (Stephan Bechert on Unsplash)

By AI Trends Staff

As researchers continue to find security flaws in smart home hub IoT devices, part of an immature security infrastructure. One researcher suggests AI can be helpful to address the vulnerabilities.

A cybersecurity team from ESET, an internet security company based in Slovakia, found bugs in three different hubs dangerous enough to trigger remote code execution, data leaks and Man-in-the-Middle attacks, according to a recent account from ZDNet.  The hubs were: the Fibaro Home Center Lite, eQ-3’s Homematic Central Control Unit (CCU2) and ElkoEP’s eLAN-RF-003.

The issues were reported to the vendors, and ESET did some follow up evaluation later. “Some of the issues appear to have been left unresolved, at least on older generations of devices,” ESET stated in its report. “Even if newer, more secure generations are available, though, the older ones are still in operation […] With little incentive for users of older-but-functional devices to upgrade them, they [users] need to be cautious, as they could still be exposed.”

The smart home hub vulnerabilities exist in devices that are poised for dramatic growth. According to IDC, the global market for smart home devices is expecting 26.9% growth in 2019, amounting to 832.7 million shipments. Growth of 17% is expected through 2023.

Revenue generated by the smart home market was estimated to be some $74 billion in 2019, with the US leading at $25 billion in sales projected for 2020, according to Statista. US penetration of smart homes is projected to grow from 18.5% in 2020 to 52% by 2023, the researchers estimate.

This growth means homes will be equipped with enough connected devices to rival the number of connections in a mid-sized company. Updates, passwords and settings will have to be managed, without the support of an IT security team or enterprise-level security tools, suggested a recent account from the IoT Security Foundation.

“This is where artificial intelligence and machine learning can come to the rescue,” the report states. “As is the case in many industries and niches, machine learning is complementing human effort and making up for the lack of human resources.”

AI Looks for Patterns in Device Communication to Flag Unusual Activity

AI is specifically adept at finding and establishing patterns, when it’s fed huge amounts of data, which is plentiful from IoT devices.

For example, a network traffic monitoring system can be applied to interactions between devices, to find attacks that might be past the outer perimeters. While the IoT is heavy with machine-to-machine (M2M) traffic, since device functionality and interaction is limited per device, the devices engaging in abnormal exchanges can be singled out. They may be compromised.

The common denominator of AI-based endpoint solutions that can outsmart malware is that they are very lightweight and use pattern-based approaches to deal with threats.

Researchers with consultancy Black Marble last year reported finding three vulnerabilities in two smart hubs made by Zagreb from Zipato of Croatia, according to an account in Bank Info Security. The researchers tried to see if they could unlock a door remotely without prior access, and take data off a single controller that could be leveraged to open other doors. They also searched for vulnerabilities that might allow for unlocking a door on the same network as the controller.

The researchers accomplished two of the three tasks and reported the third was very likely possible given enough time. The researchers reported the results to the vendor, which was reported to have addressed the software issues in a timely manner.

Zipato says it has 112,000 devices in 20,000 households across 89 countries; the company is not sure how many serve as smart home hubs.

Hackers Look for Data of Value Wherever They Can Find It

Hackers target smart home hubs for the potential to retrieve passwords and other data they can use for further exploits.

“All of these smart devices are really networked computers in addition to what they traditionally are: refrigerators, light bulbs, televisions, cat litter boxes, dog feeders, cameras, garage door openers, door locks,” stated Professor Ralph Russo, Director of Information Technology Programs at Tulane University, in an account from Safety. ”Many of these continually collect data from embedded sensors. Malicious actors could gain access to your home network through your device if they can exploit an IoT device vulnerability.”

Professor Ralph Russo, Director of Information Technology Programs, Tulane University

Devices seen most at risk are outdoor devices with embedded computers that support little or no security protocols, such as garage door openers, wireless doorbells and smart sprinklers. Next most vulnerable are devices inside the home that can be controlled through an app from a smartphone or PC, such as smart bulbs and switches, security monitors, smart door locks and smart thermostats.

“These devices rely on weak security tokens and may be hacked due to weaknesses in the communication protocols used, configuration settings or vulnerable entry-points left open by the vendor for maintenance,” stated Dr. Zahid Anwar, an associate professor at Fontbonne University, St Louis.

Dr. Zahid Anwar, Associate Professor, Fontbonne University, St Louis

Some hackers intend to take over smart home devices as part of a plan to build a network of bots, which could be used for example to orchestrate a large-scale capture of personal data, suggested Maciej Markiewicz, Security CoP Coordinator & Sr. Android Developer at Netguru, a digital consultancy and software company. “These devices can be easily used to conduct more complex attacks. Very often, the management of such botnet networks consisting of smart home devices are sold on the darknet to be used in crimes,” he stated.

Suggestions to protect smart home hubs include: assessing whether the risk of connection is worth the benefit, secure the Wi-Fi network router, use a password manager, register devices with the manufacturers in order to get the software updates, consider a professional installation and unplug the devices not in use.

Read the source articles in  ZDNet, at the IoT Security Foundation, in Bank Info Security and in Safety.



How Voice Recognition Technology Works




It is when Apple introduced Siri as part of the iPhone when Voice assistants became much of a popular trend. After that, there are some companies that followed. Amazon introduced Alexa and it was followed by Google Assistant.

Samsung also introduced their own version which they called Bixby and there was also Microsoft and their very own Cortana. Since then, a lot of people have shown interest in Voice AI

In 2019, it has been recorded that 111.8 million people in the US alone are making use of voice assistants. This trend has reached eMarketing and it has provided a log of opportunities for marketers not only to reach their customers but also to understand the needs of the people. 

What is Voice Recognition Technology?

When we talk about voice recognition, we are referring to the machine or program’s ability to receive and to interpret spoken commands. By simply speaking, voice recognition systems can interact with customers. There is no need for hand requests as the task is understood by the voice AI. 

This technology has originated on PCs but it became popular and was accepted in the consumer space where mobile devices and other home products become involved. When Smartphones became popular, voice recognition also became a thing in-home devices. Google Home and Amazon Echo can now be accessed with the use of home devices. With this, the technology has become available in the kitchens, living rooms and basically everywhere. 

The demand for voice recognition technology is continually growing and a lot of people are interacting with it. This is why companies have considered a lot of improvements including the increase in the capability and in the accuracy of the use of the voice recognition products. 

History of Voice Recognition Technology

It has been recorded that the first speech recognition system does not use words but numbers. The “Audrey” system recognized digits that are read aloud. This is designed by Bell Laboratories in 1952. After 10 years, “Shoebox” was introduced by IBM.

This system can understand and respond to 16 English words. From then until the end of 1960s, people have already developed a technology that can support words. And by 1970, there was another introduction made by Bell Laboratories and this time, the system is better as it understands multiple voices. 

In the 1980s, the “Hidden Markov Model” (HMM) was introduced. It is a statistical method that recognizes sound patterns instead of words. And by 1990, fast processors and personal computers made it possible for software such as the Dragon Dictate to be used. The accuracy of speech recognition technology has already become a bit more sophisticated by the year 2001. 

It was 2011 when Apple decided to launch Siri. This is the same as Google’s Voice Search. This decade became the golden time for voice recognition apps. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home became widely used. 

How does Voice Recognition Work?

There is a difference between voice and speech recognition. Voice recognition works in a more sophisticated and personalized way. It is able to identify and authenticate the speaker. It works in such a way that it analyzes the patterns and other elements of a person’s voice. With this, it will be able to identify if the caller is an individual. 

Voice recognition has taken a step further as compared to speech recognition. While speech recognition recognizes the words, voice recognition ensures that it is only your voice that is recognized.

This way, the commands will be done according to your own advantage. For example, whenever you unlock your home, your voice is the only one that can be recognized. This way, your safety is ensured. 

Types of Voice Recognition Systems:

There are two types of voice recognition, text-dependent and text-independent. Here are the differences: 

  • Text-Dependent

This is the type of voice recognition system that depends on the text that the person speaks. For this type of system, step-up authentication and identity verification are required. User enrollment is required and for it to be activated, the speaker must say the required phrase. 

  • Text Independent

On the other hand, text-independent voice recognition technology does not depend on a specific text. It relies only on conversational speech. The authentication does not require speaker identification using a set number or phrase. 

Advantages of Voice Recognition Technology

Businesses need to understand that voice recognition technology is already the trend. There are different benefits that they will be able to get from it when they include this to their own strategies. Here are the different advantages of voice recognition technology:

  • Reach Elusive Prospects

Today, the market consists of Millennial and Generation Z. With this, every business has to look into the characteristics of their prospect market to be able to sell. Members of these generations are considered as digital experts. Voice recognition technology is certainly a hit for them. 

  • Generate Personal Conversations

Every customer would appreciate a personal conversation. This is the best way on how they can easily present their needs without any difficulty. These personal conversations can be generated using voice AI. It will make people and prospect customers feel that they are given priority. This is good for business as it provides a connection between the company and the individuals. 

  • Reach Multiple Users at Once

Unlike call centres where the individuals can only talk to one person at a time, voice AI is something that can be more efficient. With voice recognition technology, it is now easier to reach different users all at once. This is something that makes it easier for businesses to increase the number of their customers and deal with multiple concerns. 

Voice recognition technology is continuously improving. As time passes by, it is becoming more and more sophisticated. Companies are not stopping in exploring different ways on how to improve it. In the next years, it will certainly grow bigger and most businesses will certainly depend on it for their marketing.

Also Read Benefits of Voice Assistant Technology


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Different Internet Connection Types and How to Choose The Best?




Whether you are moving to a new home or looking to change your current provider, you need to know the ins and outs of the internet industry to make the right choice at the right time. For starters, there are several internet connection types in the market at present, each of which has multiple providers offering hundreds of plans.

If you haven’t shopped for the internet before, then this variety may easily put you under a spell of confusion, wasting your time, energy, and resources. So, how can you make sense out of the noise? How can you compare the connection types accurately? And, most importantly, how can you reach the best possible verdict?

This post will serve as your guide in this process; shedding light on the top internet connection types one by one and helping you finalize the most suitable type for your home. Let’s dive in.

Cable Internet

“Cable internet is a common connection type, which is available to 90% of the U.S. population. It leverages the existing television wiring in a community to transmit broadband to people’s homes. ” 

The data travels in the form of radiofrequency signals through a network of copper coaxial cables, which withstand weather interferences and offer a strong reception. Cable internet employs the latest DOCSIS 3.1 technology to deliver faster download speeds, starting from 100 Mbps and going all the way up to 1 Gig, depending on the hybridity of the network.

One of the top cable internet providers in the market is cox internet, which offers high-speed cable internet to its subscribers through an HFC or Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial system with a ‘last mile’ coaxial line. Here are the merits and demerits of cable:



  • Affordable costs as compared to fiber
  • Faster speeds than DSL
  • Bundling Opportunities
  • Available in urban and suburban areas only
  • Slower speeds during peak traffic hours
  • Upload speed < Download Speed

DSL Internet

DSL stands for ‘Digital Subscriber Line’ and is a type of internet connection that leverages the existing telephone wiring in a community to transmit broadband to people’s homes.

Like cable, it has a 90% presence in America, with a sharp focus on the low-lying suburbs. DSL is a descendent of the ancient dial-up network, but it uses a frequency that allows a simultaneous transference of bandwidth and audio data through the copper cables. Meaning, you can call and surf the internet at the same time.

The latest iteration of DSL is VDSL (very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line) which delivers home internet, HDTV, and phone in an integrated manner on a single line. AT&T Internet is one of the best DSL providers in the market, with an American Customer Satisfaction Index rating of 68/100 and a download speed climbing up to 100 Mbps, meeting cable head-on. Here are the pros and cons of DSL internet:

Merits Demerits
  • Affordable costs as compared to cable & fiber
  • No peak usage slowdown
  • Upgrade from dial-up
  • Available in urban and suburban areas only
  • Distance sensitivity
  • Slower speeds than cable & fiber

Fibre-Optic Internet

Fibre-optic internet is the gold standard in the whole market as of now. Instead of radio frequencies and copper infrastructures, this internet connection type uses ultra-sophisticated glass-based wires, known as fibre-optics, to deliver broadband signals in the form of ultra-fast light pulses to people’s homes.

Because of its state-of-the-art technology and a complex installation process, fibre internet is not yet available on a massive scale and has a mere 32% presence in all of America. Verizon Fios is a top-performing fibre internet provider with plans starting at $39.99/month for speeds that exceed 1 Gig. Here is an overview of fiber:

Merits Demerits
  • Fastest symmetrical speeds available 
  • Scalable technology
  • Resistance to electromagnetic interferences
  • Limited availability 
  • High installation costs
  • Speeds exceed an average user’s requirement

Satellite Internet

Satellite internet is the best connection type for rural residents who can’t get access to cable or fibre networks. It works like this: A satellite provider transmits broadband signals to an orbiting satellite in the outer space, which in turn, beams them directly to a satellite dish mounted on the rooftop of a subscriber’s home.

Signals from the satellite dish travel to a receiver, which converts them into usable data for the connected devices in the area. All in all, satellite internet has 100% availability in the US, and its top two providers, HughesNet & ViaSat, are working on delivering 25 Mbps+ speeds to all homes in its coverage area. Here are the pros and cons of satellite internet:

Merits Demerits
  • Greatest availability nationwide – urban & rural
  • Passes FCC’s definition of broadband
  • More affordable than mobile data plans
  • Speeds need improvement
  • Signal stability prone to weather interferences
  • Low data caps

Final Verdict   Cable internet is a high-speed, low-cost option that is ideal for an average consumer. DSL is a low-cost, low-speed option, best for people who have basic web needs.

Fiber is a high-speed, high-cost option for people who have high-end web needs. And, the satellite is a low-speed, high-cost option, perfect for people who live in rural areas and lack wired broadband access. See where you fit on the spectrum and then, select the right connection type for yourself. 


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Benefits of Retail Merchandising for Your Business




As you might know already, merchandising is the process of designing and arranging all of the goods within your retail space. It helps create a better visual image, make the experience more fun, and attract more customers to your product. 

“Simply put, it’s not just about what you are selling – it’s also about how you present it to your customers. The same rules apply for both online and in-store selling. However, merchandising isn’t only about arranging products in a certain way.” 

It also involves various promotions, signage, the layout of the whole store, and pricing. If you’re thinking about doing merchandising, here are some of the benefits you should know. 

It Helps You Advertize 

Not all merchandising has to be done for the direct purpose of selling products or displaying their prices. Retailers can use it in different ways to promote themselves to customers and advertise. With the right retail merchandising, products, animations, and visual elements, you can simply showcase your brand or store. 

In case you are selling major brands at your store, you can use their appeal to promote your own brand. By combining these famous brands with your logo and other brand assets, you’ll be able to spark attention and make your store memorable.

Consider using technology platforms to integrate digital assets within your physical store. On the other hand, you can also do this for your digital store by creating layouts with added animations and special effects that don’t directly offer products. 

Merchandising Boosts Sales 

There’s a lot of research proving that merchandising increases retail sales. It improves the overall bottom line, and this is the goal of any store. All merchandising practices, including sales signs, promotions, events, product packaging, displays, and pricing, can increase sales. 

At the same time, your customers will have a better shopping experience, which means they won’t buy something once and never ever return to your store. Quality merchandising lets you maximize the potential of your space and boost sales. 

There’s no need to renovate the area or expand your space if you want to get more sales. When customers see attractive merchandising, your products will look more appealing to them. At the same time, they will associate it with your brand and come back for future purchases. 

Improved Customer Experience 

Merchandising has an important effect on the overall customer experience. First of all, it affects the whole ambience of your store and how it looks. The look of your store can have a great effect on customers. It’s not only appealing, but it can be logical and guide customers on their journey towards a purchase.

“More specifically, visual merchandising can help you with this. Humans are visual beings – we process visual information a lot quicker than text. ” 

If you create a store that looks nice, makes people feel comfortable, and clearly indicates what they need to do to finish a purchase, they will have a fantastic shopping experience. For this, they will repay you with their loyalty. 

Makes Your Products Look More Valuable 

As we mentioned at the start, it’s not only about how good products are, but also about how you present them. Arranging them properly with retail merchandising can make them look more valuable to customers. 

It can showcase their best sides and make them look even more special. At the same time, visual merchandising methods can be used to highlight products that are in low demand to help improve their sales. After all, customers want only the best. 

If they see that a certain product is displayed to stand out from the rest, they will think that it’s something special. Simply put, merchandising is a good option for making products stand out to customers and grab their attention. 

Modern merchandising practices also incorporate AI solutions that will showcase the right products to the right people. You can collect valuable information about customers and do “flexible” merchandising that’s personalized for every customer who visits your website. 

Tell Your Brand Story 

Retail brands need to have their own brand stories. Furthermore, they need to find as many ways as possible to share that story with their potential customers. That’s how you can build more relevance within your industry and stand out from so much competition. 

Merchandising lets you use a variety of visual elements for expressing your story and setting the tone of your brand. Through this, you can help customers recognize that you are the brand that they are looking for. 

Pointing out their pain points and giving solutions is the core of getting customer attention. It’s a more genuine and effective approach than pitching sales in a traditional and obvious way. 


Yes, retail merchandising costs money. However, when done properly, it can give you a great ROI and boost your brand. It will help you create a stable base of customers you can always rely on for steady sales. 

Also, Read Tips to Create Online Profitable Store


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Learning Environment Tips For Your Kids During The Pandemic




The pandemic has changed almost everything about our everyday lives. While you may still be adjusting to a new remote work environment and battling productivity and overpowering procrastination, your children are likely enduring the same waves of uncertainty.

As a result, parents must help young students overcome new challenges as the new medium of online learning sets the pace for youth worldwide. 

Suppose you are wondering how to keep your kids motivated to learn during the lockdown. In that case, these top tips will help you define a suitable learning environment that compliments homeschooling and virtual classrooms.

Create A Space For Learning

Your child will need their own space to learn, and while you can create a learning environment that is similar to a home office space, your child’s learning area must not be shared with any adults that may be working from home.

You will need to stock up on specific supplies to ensure the at-home learning environment is optimally functional. Besides schooling supplies, suitable furnishings, and a PC or laptop, it is also a great idea to decorate the background to complement learning. Therefore, calming colors are best.

Define Learning Times

Overcoming procrastination and lack of motivation are challenges the world’s workforce currently faces. What’s more, students worldwide are facing the same issues. To encourage your child, you will need to define learning times and help them craft a strict daily schedule. In addition to this, you should also lead by example by sticking to your work schedule. 

Explain The New Learning Dynamic

Regardless of your child’s age, the pandemic’s specifics, and how it has altered our lives is undeniably overwhelming for the average person. That said, these changes are even more frightening and confusing for younger minds who were previously conforming to entirely different dynamics of learning and socializing.

To best assist your child with the adjustment, parents must explain what is happening in the world. Your child should understand why their learning environment is different. Furthermore, you should also explain ongoing changes regarding the pandemic with your child to keep them up to date. This effort will prevent your child from feeling uncertain during this challenging time.

Be Present And Involved

Parents are required to support online learning as the parent-teacher collaboration dynamic has suddenly become vitally important. While previously, you may not have been as involved in your child’s schooling as education took place in controlled learning environments. As a result, you should make efforts to be present during your child’s online classes. Being involved is crucial to ensure your child maintains the ideal discipline that is required for learning. You will now need to participate in your child’s schooling in a manner that assists educators. 

Education standards may have changed dramatically, although not all the changes should be seen as unfavourable. Several studies suggest that even social distancing requirements are unlikely to affect youngsters negatively. The best way to keep your child motivated is to be involved in their education and provide them with an ideal environment that supports learning.

Also Read, Pros and Cons of Online Education


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