4 devices that can help secure your home’s IoT

Another article regarding IoT by Ben Dickson, recently published by TNW News, 4 devices that can help secure your home’s IoT.

Read the whole article here …

The fast growing Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon has already changed our lives in unimaginable ways, and offers many promising ideas in the future. Things that are accomplished with connected devices these days were inconceivable a few years back.

But as with every technology, there’s a dark side to IoT, and as hot new gadgets make our homes smarter, they’re also making them more vulnerable to new forms of cyber-attacks and malicious activities.

With so many vulnerable IoT gadgets at large, there are many reasons for you to worry about your smart-home’s security. And with IoT devices multiplying at a chaotic pace, you’ll soon be hard-pressed to control and the dozens of connected gadgets adorning your home.

In response to the growing number of IoT devices in homes and the potential attack vectors they introduce, tech firms are offering new smart solutions that make up for the shortcomings of individual devices by creating a shell around your home’s IoT ecosystem and controlling the interactions with and between your gadgets in a centralized way.

Here are some of the titles that are promising to provide all-in-one solutions for security problems in smart homes.

F-Secure SENSE

Finnish security company F-Secure is offering a new approach to home security with its new SENSE gadget.

IoT-1Ben Dickson

SENSE connects to your existing Wi-Fi router and adds a layer of security to your home network, which you can monitor and control through an administrative mobile application. The device scans your network activity, and sends you notifications if it “senses” that something’s not right.

The SENSE app can be installed on smartphones, tablets and computers, and allows you to block any incoming our outgoing traffic that seems suspicious, giving you centralized remote control over individual devices in your network.

Aside from setting a secure perimeter around your home, SENSE also scrutinizes your network’s inner activities and protects your devices from things that are inside your network. “The reason why we have this feature,” says Mika Stahlberg, director of product management at F-Secure, “is that while your smart toaster might not be critical to your security and privacy, its vulnerabilities can be used as a bridgehead to take over other devices in your home.”

One of the strengths of the SENSE gadget is its combination with F-Secure’sSecure Cloud, a vast repository of known viruses and threats that helps the device decide about suspicious activity it detects.

According to Mika Majapuro, Director of Product Management at F-Secure, Secure Cloud “uses advanced technologies such as behavioral analysis and machine learning to detect, categorize, and block new threats.” Secure Cloud is constantly being updated with new threat and product information, always keeping SENSE gadgets up to date with the latest threat information.


5 Tips To Improve Your App’s UI Design

In the new article from Ben Dickson, recently published by AppsZoom, 5 good tips are given to improve your App’s UI Design.

Read the whole article here …

When developing mobile apps, two very important factors that you have to take into consideration are user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). A well-done user interface can help you overcome other design flaws that your app might be suffering from. Meanwhile, even the most brilliant and innovative app idea can fail if it cannot be manifested in a user interface that meets the preferences and needs of its target audience.

The following tips will help you avoid the common pitfalls that are associated with mobile app UI.


Start with the basics

Before getting into specific tips, there are basic patterns and guidelines that you must follow in order to make good UIs for your apps. The following principles will help you assess your work at the design and implementation stage:

  • Clarity: The user interface must leave no doubt as to what each element is intended for. Users should never have to guess their way through your app.
  • Consistency: There must be a uniformity to the layout, shapes, colors and sizes of widgets across your app’s views. This will make sure the user has a seamless experience while using your app.
  • Feedback: Whether it’s a view change, a dialog or something as simple as changing the color of an element on the screen, every button or UI element must provide some sort of feedback to the user. Not doing so will leave users confused. They’ll end up repeatedly tapping buttons or even abandoning your app altogether.

Design for different levels of expertise

When designing the UI of your app, always take into consideration that your users have different intentions and expertise in using your app.

Novice users tend to be slower in learning the flow of the app and will quickly get confused if the UI is cluttered with too many, badly placed elements. They will expect your app to have an intuitive and simple interface. They are prone to making touch errors and can have difficulty in memorizing the steps to complete processes within the app.

Veterans, however, will quickly learn every nook and cranny of your app and will move quickly through the app. They might be more inclined to complete more on each view and be less confused by screens that contain more elements and features.

You have to find the right balance between the two. Better yet, offer simple and advanced views or multistep wizards in order to allow members of each audience to customize the interface based on their needs.

Choose convenient button sizes

This might sound trivial, but you’d be surprised to find out how many developers get it wrong. Button sizes are limited by the size of the user’s finger. If they’re too small, users can’t tap them correctly, and they’ll have to struggle to use your app correctly.

As a general rule, never use buttons that are less than 1 cm in width – they’re very hard to tap. Keep in mind that some of your users might have fatter fingers. It would be a shame if they couldn’t benefit from your app simply because they’re frustrated by tapping two buttons at the same time.

You can also use non-uniform button sizes to give an indication of the importance of buttons on your screen. For instance, in an mCommerce app, a “Purchase” button should be larger than other buttons on a screen, because it – obviously – contains the most important functionality of the page.

Also – and this is something I always remind developers – never forget that while you might be developing your app from the comfort of your desk, the end user will want to be able to use it in different settings. This includes while walking, while sitting on the train, or while holding a mug of coffee in their left hand. If users can’t tap the buttons of your app with ease while being in a relatively uncomfortable situation, they’ll be limited to using your app in solely stable settings. That’s way too limited for a mobile app.