With Easter just around the corner and many of us already on our holidays, there’ll be a huge portion of people who’ve spent an incredible amount of time stressing about home security – and worrying that appliances have been turned off.
Women Love Tech spoke to one woman, Fiona Tyson, who told us it’s not unusual for her to head off on the road only to return to the house to double/triple check that the stove is definitely switched off.
“I admit I do suffer from some kind of OCD but whenever I go on holiday, I will get in the car and my mind will start ticking over about all the possible things that are still switched on – from the iron to the stove to the hairdryer,” admits Fiona.
“Sometimes I just go back and pull all the appliances out from the sockets so there is no way I will keep stressing about it. My husband once suggested I take a photo as evidence that no appliance is on and that seemed to work last time!”
Four in ten people are believed to suffer from ‘Appliance Anxiety’ during the holiday season. Research compiled by Telstra revealed eight in ten go to the extent of always turning appliances off at the wall before going away. Those aged between 18 to 24 are the most absent-minded, with 67 per cent worrying whether they had left the iron or the hair straightener on.
Telstra has developed its new ‘smart home technology’ to help people take control of their homes – and their holidays. It can set up your lights and appliances to turn on and off so it looks like someone’s home. The smart home technology can also keep an eye on any pets via cameras and make sure the iron is switched off.
The Telstra Smart Home product range consists of the Automation and Energy Starter Kit, which includes smart plugs and sensors for checking on windows and doors, and the Watch and Monitor Starter Kit, with a camera and sensors to help you keep an eye on the house and its contents from afar.
Another issue that’s sure to concern us over Easter is ‘social media burglary.’ Do you regularly post on social media that you’re about to go on holiday? Or, when you’re away, post countless photos of yourself living it up in Fiji? It’s always tempting to share holiday snaps, however criminals are increasingly using social media to locate houses left empty over the holiday period, or in more extreme cases, even stalk and confront their victims.
Research in the US shows 78 per cent of criminals use social media to see which homes are empty over holiday breaks.
The highly publicised 2016 jewellery robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris is a great example of how oversharing on social media can lead to dangerous and life-threatening situations.
The alleged mastermind of the robbery admitted to police that he had obtained information about Kim’s whereabouts, and even the value of her jewellery, from her social media accounts.
Nick FitzGerald from IT security specialists ESET told Women Love Tech you should check the privacy settings of your social media accounts and only add people who are actually friends.
“Above all, never disclose information that could be used to find out where you live, expose personal and travel details, or announce when you are going away for an extended period of time,” Nick says.
Tips for using social media safely in holiday season:
- Turn off location services: Most apps include location-sharing features with GPS trackers. Make sure your location services are not set to ‘automatic’, particularly for apps with lower security settings so posts cannot be tracked to a specific location, especially your home.
- Remove EXIF data: Many pictures uploaded to the internet include information on when and where the photo was taken and on what kind of device. This information is known as EXIF data, and whilst some social media sites, including Facebook, strip this data automatically once an image is uploaded, many do not.
- Think before you share: Is it really necessary to have your full date of birth on your social media accounts? Or to tag the location of your house or nearby landmarks?
When you’re away:
- Don’t announce your holiday plans: Announcing you are going away for an extended period of time, and specifying exact dates, makes you a prime target for burglars.
- Don’t post in real-time: Even with EXIF data expunged, that photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background might be a bit of a giveaway that you are away for several days. Although it’s hard, try to resist posting your holiday snaps until you’ve returned home.