surveillance cameras flickr / Josh Koonce
Private Eyes

What You Need To Know About The Security Of Home Security Systems

Back in the day, you didn’t really have much in your house requiring protection. Also you were crazy tough, so one of those flimsy chain deals was sufficient to protect your crappy apartment. But now that you’re a dad, you’re almost certain the world is full of dangerous psychopaths hell bent on disrupting your gentle home life. And when those scary clowns come knocking, you want something that’ll keep them out. Because otherwise you’ll be Taken by a Liam Neeson level rage when you’d prefer to focus on Love, Actually.

liam neeson in taken

The perfect solution to security fears often appears to be a home security system. But, unfortunately, those systems may leave you with a false sense of that thing they’re supposed to provide. So, here are some things to consider when you’re investing in the safety of your family.

Totally Insecure

If you’re going to purchase a home security system, research is crazy necessary. The fact is no single system will be perfect for protecting your family and your property. That said, there are several systems with known weaknesses that are easily exploited by home invaders.

nanny-cam-stil

Wireless Systems Using Radio Signals

Systems using radio signals are still in production despite being big in the 90s. They work by sending radio relays between entry points and a central hub. The problem is that the signals are super vulnerable, much like the ones you send your partner when you want to get it on.

So burglars, with minimal equipment investment, can capture or disrupt those signals. They can also play the signals back to disarm the system or suppress alarms. It’s what allowed some good-guy hackers (they exist!) to break into a host of popular name-brand systems back in 2014, as reported by Wired.

Internet Of Things (IoT) Connected Systems

For proof of the vulnerability in Internet of Things homes, one need only consider a little incident that happened at a big box hardware store early in 2016. One day a mischievous hacker was able to get the display panel on a web-enabled refrigerator to display a popular porn site. Which is, by definition, a cold move. Or is it hot?

Anway, your refrigerator is hackable. So is your front door. In fact, front door hacking is already a thing. All an enterprising burglar needs is access to the back end of the system and a flimsy password (like “password”).

In some instances they don’t even need that. Hackers can gain access to your router through an unsecured IoT device, like a toaster, which could allow them to monitor activity in Wi-Fi-enabled locks and catch passwords. As well as ruin all of your toast.

Systems You Monitor Yourself

Devices like front door cameras that you can stream, or motion sensing devices that send you alerts, are only good if you can act on the information right away. If you miss the alert, or are unable to get help to your home quickly, the burglar will be in and out before you can do anything. And while you might have a picture of the thief, you’re probably still out some valuables and a sense of security. So what was the point?

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The Washington Post

Some Security Tips

You’ll be glad to know there are some things that you can do to keep your family and your home safe. Many don’t even require an internet connection, which is perfect if Black Mirror has turned you into a Luddite:

Just Get The Decal: You can find these anywhere on the Internet. Just research their authenticity and place them where burglars normally enter: side entrances and lower level windows. Although, if Home Alone taught you anything, it’s that you can also protect these entry points with by making a door handle super hot and spreading around glass ornaments.

Use Better Passwords: Get as random as you can. Go for full phrases, out of context, that also include numbers and symbols. So maybe: “AuntJeanineIsAnElephantWhoAte69Watermellons!” Replace all your default passwords on all devices immediately (including your router). Don’t tell aunt Jeanine.

Get A Dog: Mutts continue to be a good deterrent. That’s particularly true if they are noisy. As a bonus, exposing your kid to dog dander early can lower their risk to pet related allergies in the future.

Get An Outdoor Service: Because many home burglaries happen in broad daylight during working hours, hire a service that can be at your house semi-regularly during those hours. Think window washers, lawn care folks or even dog walkers for that new pooch you got.

Watch For Scams

Home security scams are alive and well. The Federal Trade Commission has a fantastic page on how to spot the hucksters looking to prey on your new-dad vulnerabilities. You can also check out this list of the worst rated home security systems so you don’t get Taken 2.