Fibaro Z-wave Smart Wall Plug

This is the second product from Fibaro I’ve unboxed and reviewed and the quality and design hold true with what I’ve said before, they really know how to put together a good bit of IoT.

It’s really when you look at what sets the wall plug apart from the rest that you begin to notice the attention to detail, lets be honest there are thousands of brands all producing similar IoT switches so why would you want this one?

All the usual suspects

It does everything you would expect for starters and as much as any of its competitors which is that it uses either Z-wave or WiFi (depending on the version) to control your socket outlet and switch the power on and off, simple, effective and reliable I’ve found.

Watt else?

In addition, the Wall Plug acts as an energy meter, it measures the amount of energy being consumed in Watts this data can both be logged with your Z-wave gateway (for instance the HC3) and be displayed by the built-in LED’s.

Bright ideas

Next, we have the ring of RGB LED’s on the face of the plug, the default as above the LED’s are set to display the power consumption of the appliance in use and gives real-time feedback of power use. This however is not the only option, the LED’s can be configured to be triggered by anything using the Home Center Gateway, so you could set it up as a flashing light when your door contact gets opened or a night light for when you have switched your Fibaro light switch off in the room! Just a few ideas off the top of my head but the possibility are endless.

Conclusion

My final thoughts are that the Wall Plug holds up with what I’ve come to expect from Fibaro products. Setup and pairing were quick and simple. I’ve had no issues with reliability whenever I’ve triggered the device it always does as is told and quickly too. No complaints at all and I’m happy to recommend it.

YubiKey – Is this the next step for password security?

Yubikey

I was really glad to have the opportunity to do this video, Yubikey by Yubico has been on my radar for a long time. A lot of people I speak to are security professionals and it’s really become the norm for them to all be using Yubikeys, but the question is why?

Why do I need this?

Passwords as a concept are now redundant alone, the mix of human nature and computers that can brute force to test thousands of passwords a second have made it increasingly difficult to keep systems secure.

Ideally, we should all be using password managers with randomly generated passwords and a second factor (2FA) of security. The most common types of 2FA are SMS, one-time passwords (OTP), and hardware keys like the Yubikey.

2FA

Although any 2FA is an additional line of defence SMS 2FA is flawed, I can assure you that the S’s in SMS don’t stand for secure! But is still better than nothing.

Next in line are the OTP’s these are normally generated in apps like Authy or google authenticator, much more secure than SMS, and generally are as secure as the device that holds the app. They work the same as the SMS in that you get a shortcode that you need to input in a short amount of time. A great idea but a bit of a pain in practice, it’s always a rush to get the code in quick or wait for a new code to be generated which is fine every now and again but when you are regularly logging in to multiple systems regularly it can become a bind.

Hardware keys like the Yubikey’s have no need for imputing long codes or use of SMS they just need any available port or NFC and a simple touch of the device sends the full key securely and that’s it. It’s fast easy to use and extremely secure, the only thing you need to do is remember to keep it with you for when you need it. There’s a lot more on why this is a lot more secure than other methods you can find out here.

Does it work?

So in this day and age, I hope everyone knows the risk of Phishing, sending a malicious email, often in the hope that a user will click a link that imitates a website and then attempt to login into the imitation site this happens all the time, it works, unfortunately. With 2FA enabled the password is useless alone without the second factor, even if they collected your code from the above methods they would only have a limited window of time to use the code, and in the case of the Yubikey “replaying” the code wouldn’t work at all.

Review

I’ve said a lot in the review in the video but in short, I really like the Yubikeys, how they work and how easy they are for improving security. If you’ve ever had an issue with your accounts being phished or hacked, this is pretty cut-and-dry the solution to your problems. Easy to set up and easy to use, if I had my way this would be the new normal. If you’ve enjoyed this video and post you might like another infosec one.

Home Center 3 from FIBARO – FIRST HANDS-ON

Home Center 3

This is my first hands-on with the Home Center 3 (HC3) from FIBARO. The HC3 is an IoT hub for controlling your smart devices be they FIBARO’s or other manufactures. Currently, the HC3 only supports Z-Wave devices but has the hardware to work with Zigbee and 433Mhz and 868Mhz. These extra protocols are not yet implemented in the software but are due to be added soon, which bring me to my first point:

Software

The software on the HC3 is very intuitive in my opinion, It can be a little bit complex but I feel that just because of all the functionality they have available to use.

Software updates are regular it seems in my limited time with the device but time on the forum shows this is historically true too, the FIBARO team seem to release stable and beta updates every few weeks with new features and bug fixes, unlike a lot of devices when you buy a FIBARO HC, support doesn’t end when you take delivery they still regularly update the older devices which are good to see!

Forums and support

FIBARO hosts a very active forum that adds a lot of support for the Home Centers, it’s home to a lot of guides and information. I find it really encouraging to see a community like this that are all helping out and making the experience even better with things like self-written Quick Apps and troubleshooting setups.

The developers of the devices can also be often found in the forums answering questions and taking feedback, which goes towards future updates. On top of this if you have bought through a FIBARO installer you will have their support as well as FIBARO themselves directly.

Integrations

The setup of Z-Wave devices is seamless, and I’ve found setting up with Alexa and Google home simple (Subscribe for future guides on this!). All my devices show in my Home or Alexa app and devices can be renamed so you can use voice controls.

Automation’s are set up with Scenes and you have the choice of writing the code directly or simply using a block. If you’ve not seen block before you simply drag and drop the devices and the actions that you want to complete into your scene and it’s as simple as that. In the video, I show a simple example of how easy it is and just how much flexibility you have.

Review

I’ve been using the HC3 for a few weeks now and I’m happy with the stability and the sheer amount of flexibility that you can get out of the hub.

There’s definitely a balance between functionality and user-friendliness and I think the HC3 has struck a good mix. In the Smartphone App, they have gone too heavy on the user-friendly side which is perfect for me, If I need to make changes to how things work I use the web interface, if not I have the App where I can quickly run scenes and toggle devices. Probably the best bit of this is you can give the App to other less savvy users and they will still get all the functionality of the system without the ability to make changes.

As I’ve said in the video we will have plenty of content coming up on the setup of integrations and lots of other FIBARO products. Why not subscribe on YouTube to get notified of our next videos! If you enjoyed this content you might like our OpenWrt Guide.