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Your Security System Safe from Hackers

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hacker safetyThe increased popularity surrounding smart homes these days is both exciting and terrifying to many homeowners. On one end, smart homes can mean a greater range of security and control. Homeowners can access electricity and air even when they are at the office, an aspect that can save them money in the long run. On the other hand, the use of smartphones with smart homes can increase the susceptibility of hackers infiltrating a system and invading the home. While today’s technology has worked diligently to prevent this, homeowners should always take extra precautions to protect their home, regardless if it is a smart home or not.

Here are a few tips any homeowner can implement in order to protect their smart home from hackers:

  • Change Passcodes Regularly. Just as anyone would change their email password in the case of hackers, so should homeowners change their password on a regular basis for their security system. Even if there is no sign of an attack, keeping a password in constant flux may be helpful for reducing the risk of someone coming in and logging into the system using a common, long-standing passcode.
  • Perform System Checks. Ask the security company to perform checks on a regular basis. This will help notify companies of any perceived threat, malfunctioning, or risk that could potentially open up a homeowner to an attack.
  • Protect Smart Phones. Many smart phones and devices are connected to home security systems, so it should go without saying that homeowners should keep a close watch on their phones at all times. If apps are installed that connect to the home, never let anyone use the device without the appropriate consent. Even a well-meaning family member could lend a phone or tablet to an individual that doesn’t live in the home, increasing the chances of hacking.

Smart homes are designed to be safer and more efficient, so homeowners shouldn’t worry too much about hackers. Still, by making sure all precautions are in check, homeowners can decrease the likelihood of anyone gaining entry into their home. Companies everywhere are placing tighter protection on smart homes, helping homeowners keep their family safe. If still concerned, always speak with a security company to find out what further measures can be taken to ensure an optimal level of protection.

How Do Summer Storms Affect Your Home Security System

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LighteningSummer storms can mean power outages and flooding, two occurrences that can seriously threaten the proper running of a household. While storms must cease, its ability to hinder a home's security system can be quite damaging, not to mention dangerous. Whether it's a downpour of rain, tornadoes, lightening, or hail, summer storms can leave a house susceptible to a compromise in security. Fortunately, there are some things homeowners can do to prevent a storm from affecting a security system, no matter what season it is.

Homes need protection at all times, even during a summer storm. Many storms during the summer can be severe, especially if it is a monsoon. If a storm becomes severe and a home is struck by lightning, uncontrolled darkness and a malfunctioning security system may be the result. Fortunately security systems have backup battery in case of a power outage; however, many homeowners don't check to see if this battery is fully charged. A security company will receive notifications in case a battery runs low, which can be incredibly helpful for busy or forgetful minds. Make sure that a backup battery is functioning, especially during monsoon season or just before a storm sets in.

A false alarm can be problematic during a storm, especially if homeowners are new to operating their system. Also, police may be informed that a break in occurred if users make a mistake with the operation of their system; however, security systems often have clear, simple instructions that are not typically confusing to most individuals. Some municipalities have fines for homeowners that have false alarms related to security systems. This is why it's crucial for homeowners to understand their system and to receive the proper advice and instructions from their security company. Being educated on how to operate a security system during a storm is also pertinent information a homeowner should know to prevent a false alarm.

What are your thoughts on summer storms and how it can affect your home security system? Has a storm ever set off your security system? Share with us your thoughts on our Facebook page as well as in the comments!

Tips for Reducing False Alarms with Your Home Security System

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false alarmsFalse alarms from security systems can be a hassle for homeowners and law enforcement don’t particularly appreciate them either. Sometimes, false alarms can signal police that there is a real emergency happening within a home, which unnecessarily uses up valuable time for law enforcement officers. Not only that, the time and effort it takes on homeowners to reset, learn, and work around the errors can be far from pleasurable. Fortunately, there are things any homeowner can do to reduce the incidence of accidentally inducing an alarm signal, whether it be user error or a misunderstanding within the system's functioning.

More than 3,000 municipalities in the United States have a fine for a false alarm, making it crucial to homeowners on a budget to know their security systems inside and out. Reducing the incidence of a false alarm is not very difficult, especially if certain precautions are taken before, during, and after installing a security system. Here are three tips any homeowner with security systems can do to prevent a false alarm:

  1. Train Residents How to Use the Security System. All family members should know how to operate the home's security system, including all relevant pass codes and how to turn on/off the system. Any member that cannot operate the system may increase the risk of a false alarm.
  2. Keep Security Companies in the Loop. If going on vacation, hiring help, or getting work done on the house, notify the security company who installed the security system beforehand. This way they can be prepared for regular system interruptions during the time period.
  3. Check System Monthly. Always test your system to ensure that it is functioning properly. Also, have a professional check by your security system company. This can prevent any short circuits or malfunctions in the future.

To avoid fines and preventable hassle, there are a number of ways any homeowner can prevent a false alarm in their security system. Owners of a security system should contact their security company to gain further education on how to work their system and should always keep their phone number close in case a pertinent question arises.

Have you ever experienced a false alarm with your security system? What do you do to prevent false alarms? Please share with us your thoughts on our Facebook page!

Keeping Your Home Safe While You’re Away for Summer Vacation

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summerSummer is here, and that means swimming pools, shorter clothes, and long vacations. Summer is the idea time for vacationing and visiting friends and relatives. On the other hand, being away from home also means homeowners must give up a sense of control, leaving the safety of their home largely in the hands of fate.

Locking all doors and windows is a great first step, however, the last thing a homeowner wants to experience when arriving back from a vacation is seeing that their home has been burglarized. Here are some tips for keeping a home safe during vacation:

Discontinue Paper Service. If a potential criminal sees a pile up of newspapers on a doorstep during a vacation, they’re more likely to think that the homeowners are away. This can promote a higher incidence of burglary. Homeowners are advised to discontinue their paper service while they are on vacation, or to have a neighbor, friend, or close relative to pick up the mail.

Keep a Car in the Driveway. Leaving a secure car in the driveway while on vacation may tip off burglars that someone is home, reducing the chances of a break in. Better yet, having a relative or friend house sit may also discourage unlawful entry while traveling.

Install a proper Security System. Having a security system that monitors suspicious movement, unauthorized entry, and burglary can keep valuables (and the home) safe and secure. A security system that allows homeowners to control outdoor lighting may also be helpful for discouraging nighttime intruders.

Refrain from posting whereabouts on social media. Posting that a family is going on vacation in a foreign land or location can travel quickly through the grapevine, especially if privacy controls on a social media platform are relaxed.

What are your suggestions on keeping your home safe during a vacation? Share with us your tips and tricks on our Facebook page!

Beyond the Safe Room, Home Security Goes Sci-FI

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home-security-goes-sci-fi-blogA safe room, while still not incredibly commonplace, is becoming a popular home addition to homes around the world. This room is meant to keep individuals of a household safe in the case of intruders, sealing them off from any contact with outside individuals. Some safe rooms are beginning to use advanced technology to enhance the effectiveness of a safe room, often implementing the use of camera monitoring, secret passageways, and electromagnetic locks.

Here are just a few of the high-tech safety measures many people are beginning to implement in their own homes:

Fog machines to ward off intruders: The initiation of synthetic fog in the home is just one of the many new additions to upgraded security systems. When the system notices an intruder, the fog is released in the home to help confuse and ward off the danger.

Wine cellar that doubles up as an underground bunker: In some high-end homes, safe rooms often perform double duty to maximize space and efficiency. An underground safe room that doubles up as a wine cellar and food storage area is also becoming quite popular among some home owners.

iPads installed on walls that enable monitoring and control of key access points: Some homes with high-scale security will have iPads installed on walls that are hooked up to camera systems. These cameras monitor key access points in the home, and each iPad can control locks, lights, and security alarms throughout the home.

Electromagnetic locks on panic rooms: Panic rooms that need additional security are becoming increasingly structured with the use of electromagnetic locks. Users do not have to worry about the quality of the lock or locking the doors behind them, because these locks are incredibly sturdy and can't be opened with a traditional key or manipulation methods.

Secret Passageways. Many homes are becoming more like their sci-fi counterparts typically seen on television, with many calling on the use of secret passageways for extra protection. While some homeowners use these to add an element of fun into their home, many also use it for its ingenious safety factor.

What are your thoughts on the power of technology and its future role in protecting homes? Let us know on our Facebook page! Feel free to also share with us your thoughts in the comments.

SOURCES:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2013/11/27/billionaire-bunkers-beyond-the-panic-room-home-security-goes-sci-fi/

http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-safety/security/panic-room1.htm

The Rise of Security Cameras in Schools

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security-cameras-in-school-blogThe increased awareness around school crimes, including bullying, theft, and shootings, have prompted a significant boost in high-tech security cameras on campuses all across the country. As it appears as though school-related issues happen every other day, many schools are attempting to crack down on deterring violence by implementing camera systems in classrooms, hallways, offices, and athletic fields.

Using cameras in schools not only supplies simple video monitoring. As a matter of fact, this technology is often complemented by other technology, including alarms and electronic security control. Here are some of the technology benefits of school cameras that are slowly being experienced by many public and private school institutions:

Camera Systems. Cameras have improved over the years, offering high-definition quality that can aid in clearer identification. Video can now be streamed on most computers, tablets, and even mobile phones, providing a speedier response in case of alarm.

Immediate Alarms and Control. Alarms can now be initiated immediately in case of emergency, helping to provide swift action among employees and law enforcement. These alarms can also initiate a number of controls, ranging from locking doors electronically to prompting security calls to local police.

Provides Peace of Mind. While camera systems aren't the absolute answer to maintaining security, parents can have a slight peace of mind sending their children to schools that maintain a high level of security awareness. Knowing that a school is implementing cameras, alarms, and other security measures can definitely be helpful for easing worried parents' minds.

Open campuses have been the norm for years; however, the undeniable fear that pervades some parents' minds and hearts are catapulting an initiation for change. Closing campuses may be safer, and the knowledge of camera systems as well as other security systems may be helpful in protecting children, teachers, and other school staff.

What are your thoughts on incorporating security cameras and other high-tech systems in schools? Share with us your thoughts on our Facebook page as well as in the comments!

SOURCES:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2006-10-09-school-security_x.htm

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2009/aug/04/schools-cctv-surveillance

Home Security Trends in 2014

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home-security-trends-blogThe trends we observed twenty years ago in home security and safety systems only somewhat resemble the trends we are seeing today; however, today's trends were born from yesterday's triumphs. Our ever-growing technology and pervasive use of smartphones are enabling us to live like never before, and they're also helping us protect our homes like never before.

While technology and home systems are constantly in flux, there are some trends we will see in 2014 that will be here to stay, at least for a while. Here are some of the home security trends you should expect to grow exponentially in 2014:

Mobile Automation: Smartphones are making life a little bit easier these days, thanks in part to the plethora of mobile apps and gadgets available. In 2014 and beyond, we should see a movement into home security automation, meaning we will be able to control various aspects of our home security systems with our phones. Apps already exist to control air conditioning, coffee pots, locks, and even lighting systems, and more and more security systems are helping their customers take control of their home's safety by easily accessing their system in the palm of their hand.

Remote Monitoring: Home owners can often fret over the safety of their home when they are away on a work trip or vacation, causing unnecessary stress that detracts from the trip's main goal. Security systems are seeing an increase of customer interest in remote monitoring, or the ability to watch the activity that occurs inside and around their abode. Whether it's installing camera systems and watching this activity periodically throughout the day on a smartphone or tablet, or it's a simple app that enables users to monitor the technical aspects of their life safety systems, remote monitoring is only going to grow in popularity.

Geo-fencing: The term "geo-fencing" describes a home owner's ability to establish a GPS-based boundary around the home, one that alerts the owner when a linked device crosses that boundary. In other words, if there is a resident, such as a child or an elderly individual, who requires security at all times, a geo-fence will immediately notify parents or caretakers when these leave the house (providing they are carrying their linked mobile device). This can provide an instant response to protecting those we love dearly, especially if they leave on their own without telling you.

Many of the trends we are seeing in home security correspond with the emerging trends in our mobile technology. These trends are only going to grow and evolve, just as our technology grows and evolves. While we are living in a fast-paced society, these effective and efficient safety systems will likely remain popular in New Hampshire as well as around the world.

What are you concerned about the most when it comes to your home security? Do you see yourself implementing these current home security trends into your own security systems? Share with us your thoughts in the comments, or over on our Facebook page!

SOURCES:

http://mashable.com/2013/12/31/tech-predictions-2014/

http://www.domesticpreparedness.com/infrastructure/Cyber_&_IT/Security_Technology_Trends_to_Watch_in_2014/

How Smartphones and Tablets are Changing the Security Industry

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smartphones-tablets-blogThe widespread use of smartphones and tablets in the home and the workplace is creating a new set of complications for the security industry. Tablets and smartphones are challenging because the range of options available to users can simultaneously create workplace security breaches but allow for home security monitoring systems. The following list highlights some of the changes caused by smartphone and tablet technology:

  • Business networks are more vulnerable: In today's interconnected business world, many individuals, particularly those working in small businesses, are combining their personal and work devices into one smartphone or tablet. People, now more than ever, can take their work with them, communicate, and make important decisions while commuting, working from home, or on vacation. This increased mobility has also increased security risks for business networks. Sue Marquette Poremba at Business News Daily writes: "Without knowing who's accessing the network, or how often, it is difficult for a network administrator to make sure security policies are met...The added risk of mobile devices is that they are easily lost or stolen." The use of personal devices for sensitive work can dramatically increase the security risk for small and larger businesses.
  • Apps can facilitate home security monitoring: While certain apps are making it easier for individuals to set up their own monitoring systems, serious effort is required to maintain them effectively. CBS writes that experts in the field "warn that to get all the full benefits of these options, a lot of work is required on the part of the resident." Simply setting up a smartphone with a monitoring app doesn't guarantee home safety. For the system to be effective, homeowners must "monitor when there's an alert for a motion detection going on, be able to grab [a] phone, and maybe call the police." Experts also warn that power or internet outages will negate the effectiveness of the self-monitoring option. Galen Gruman, writing for InfoWorld, is also critical of certain smartphone based security apps. He argues that because they are so centered on the use of one specific smartphone: "They don't address the common reality that [with the majority of home alarm systems] there's a central console anyone can use—anyone who's at home can hear the doorbell and deal with it, or anyone provided a code can gain access via the alarm system to the home." Being tied directly to one smartphone can limit the security system's effectiveness severely.
  • Increased smartphone and tablet use requires increased security: Security applications need to evolve with the speed of mobile technology. One of the main challenges for the security industry is the speed at which mobile technology is changing. Smartphones and tablets are available through a wide variety of platforms and the security measures necessary vary for different devices. Poremba quotes James Lyne: "Microsoft operating systems have long been the primary focus area for security investment...The broader set of platforms being used requires not only more coverage from solutions, but fundamentally protecting each of these devices is quite different in implementation and policy." It is imperative that as smartphone technology improves, security measures improve along with it.

The use of mobile devices in all areas of life has created a significant need for the security industry to adapt in a variety of ways. From individuals taking control of not necessarily entirely effective home monitoring, to smartphone use at work, a void is being created that must be filled with improved security technology.
Will you be taking a look at the way you use your smartphone and/or tablet? Was this advice helpful? Let us know on Facebook!

SOURCES:

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/07/10/seen-at-11-home-security-through-your-smartphone/

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/728-private-smartphones-tablets-threaten-office-networks.html

http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobile-technology/smartphone-only-systems-can-be-really-dumb-230536

Protect Your Home Security in the Social Media Age

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home-security-blogSharing details of our lives online has become commonplace, with sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others inviting us to check in at restaurants, post vacation photos, and divulge important life updates with everyone connected to us on social media.

Unfortunately, little thought is given to the possible home security ramifications of such a revealing pastime. Consider these following suggestions and facts to ensure that you and your family are using social media in a way which does not undermine the home security precautions that so many people take:

  • Share vacation info upon return, not before departure: No matter how excited you are about your upcoming European tour, Caribbean cruise, or weekend away to see family members, sharing specific dates and information detailing when you will be out of your home for an extended period of time is not a good idea. Writing for HuffPost, Brad Morehead warns: "an update like this one could be an indication that no one will be home for that period of time. This may not only lead to a break-in, but your home could potentially become host to a party or even squatters."
  • "Privacy" only extends so far: Most social media users are unaware of the ways in which information can be gathered about them from their internet usage. Privacyrights.org (PRC) reminds us that not only is the information we post shared, but that electronic tracking gathers further information. The idea that any of our social media profiles are truly private is a misconception: "social networks themselves do not necessarily guarantee the security of the information that has been uploaded to a profile, even when those posts are set to be private." PRC references the May 2010 Facebook issue which caused users' private chat logs to temporarily be visible to unauthorized users. This information can be exploited in a variety of ways, including threatening your home security.
  • Once you post, you relinquish control: Your intent behind a post being only seen by your friends or followers doesn't come into the equation. David Beaudrie writes that the construction of social media sites lend itself to the rapid spread of information. He says: "even if you only intend for your friends to see your postings about where you are for the evening, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are designed with viral postings in mind...As a result, your post may be seen by hundreds of people you don't know within minutes of you posting it." Think carefully about who could possibly see your posts and whether or not you should be sharing the particular details you wish to post!
  • Burglars admit to using social media: According to an infographic posted by Bit Rebels and created by Credit Sesame, 78% of burglars surveyed admitted to using Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare to "target potential properties." Surprisingly, this same infographic highlights the benefits of social media when catching criminals and shares the story of a homeowner who created a Facebook page, posted images from the footage of a break-in at his home, and asked other users to help. Just 36 hours later he had identified the burglars.

Do not let the potential risks deter you from engaging in social media, a medium which has become second nature to a large percentage of the population. Instead, use this information to guide you to make smarter sharing and posting decisions.

What ways can you use social media to make your home more secure? Will this advice help shape your future posting decisions? Let us know on Facebook!

SOURCES:

http://homesecurity.about.com/od/online/a/How-Social-Media-Threatens-Your-Home-Security.htm

https://www.privacyrights.org/social-networking-privacy-how-be-safe-secure-and-social

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-morehead/5-common-social-media-sha_b_4137957.html

http://www.bitrebels.com/technology/how-social-media-compromises-home-security-infographic/

Business Security Trends in 2014

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security-trends-blogYour business is an extension of you; you've spent nights there, you think about it at all times, and it is crucial for you to protect it and everything inside, here are some trends in alarm system technology that will allow you to do just that!

Going Wireless

Your phone is wireless, your cable is wireless, why not your security system? From the cameras themselves to the devices used to control them, wireless technology is definitely a top trend in today's alarm systems.

In With the New - Screens

Do you like the convenience and user-friendliness of the touch screens of your electronic devices? The alarm system in your business can have one too! And you will be surprised and pleased to hear that the price today nearly matches older analog keypads!

Smartphone and Computer Access

Thanks to digital IP security cameras with cloud recording capabilities, you can access footage from any web-enabled device, so you can check on your business from just about anywhere - and you know you'll want to!

Automation

Not only does alarm system automation let you keep an eye on things from across town or across the world, you can also remotely set or disable the alarm and even change the thermostat temperature! Automation can also allow you to receive your business security status by email and text alerts!

Energy Efficiency

Allowing you to keep track of energy consumption can ultimately save you money, but also who isn't looking to go green in every aspect of their lives, now you can with security too!

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