Home Security Blog.

I am really amazed at the advancement of closed circuit camera systems now available to the general public. Most systems now are “plug & play” so you don’t have to be a computer programmer to set up and use your own system.

One of the relatively newcomers to this market is company called SVAT. They have some really advanced systems that are user friendly. In the past you had to partition out different phases for what you wanted to achieve, but this product can do it with one simple DVR. (digital video recorder) SVAT systems automatically shift from daylight to darkness and can record in total darkness. It’s true you are limited to about fifteen feet seeing in total darkness so the placement of the camera can be critical. The day light hours are recorded in full color and can distiguish facial features clearly.

They have several systems ranging from one to sixteen cameras that can be used both inside as well as outside monitoring. Some come with a full color flat screen that you can have four cameras, quad screen, displayed at the same time. You may wish to view just one camera full screen by itself.

Most of the cameras have a “built-in” motion sensor so that the DVR will only record if there is movement. Most of their DVR’s can record up to 154 days before the hard drive is fully loaded. You may have the DVR over-write at that time if you wish or have the DVR stop recording at that time.

I have not used any of these sytems myself, but looking at all of their specifications, they look impressive. For more information about SVAT systems, click here.

I’ve been asked many times over the years, “Why can’t I install my security system?” I’d answer, “yes you can, but it does take some knowledge of electronics, electrical wiring and computers in most cases.” I got asked that question again just yesterday so I went digging into and looking at some of the security systems available to the general public.

Security companies buy their components from a wholesaler. These wholesale distributors do not sell to the public because most states require a state license to install security systems. More manufacturers are now offering their products directly to the public via the internet. My opinion is that you might spend more money having a professional install your system, but it’s the best option you have. What kind of a price tag would you put on protecting your family or business? So you must ask yourself, is it worth taking the chance on a “self installed” security system.

Be that as it may, YES you can install your own system. I did have a lot of fun looking up systems and companies on the internet. Let me state, I DO NOT recommend the average person to install their own system.

There is a website called, Home Security Store that gives a good place for the do it yourselfer. They give a lot of options in many catagories. Here again, I am not endorsing them but they do give you several different companies to get information from.

Before trying to decide what system you are about to install first determine what you want it to do. Some of the questions are:

* Do you want the system monitored by a professional “central station.”
* Check out the central stations that might monitor your system. Is it UL approved? Is it one person
or are there many persons on duty 24/7? Can they receive signals from the security system you are
to install. Some security systems will only call their particular monitoring station.
* Do you want video surviellance? If so is it important to have “night vision.”?
* Do you want to be able to access your system remotely anywhere?
* Do you want a DVR (ditital video recorder) that saves and records all happenings to be reviewed at
a later date?
* Is the system going to blend in with the decor of where it is to be installed?
* Do you need to get permission from a landlord or historic society before you can install it?
* Do you need to get a permit from a city or management group? Some cities require a permit and
can fine you heavily if the police or fire department are dispatched to your home and you do not
have your system registered with them.
* Is the system user friendly? If a system is hard to operate most likely you will never use it.
* Is there weather or temperature conditions to be met? Some components have to be housed in
weather housings to operate under certain conditions.
* What distances will the devices transmit their siganals to what ever receiver it is programed into?
* What height must a device be installed at? Too high of a ceiling or too far of a distance may mean
the device will not cover the area you want to secure.

Before installing your own system contact your local Police department. They will be glad to give all the information you will need.

This time of the year identity theft is at it’s height. More people are filing their tax returns online. If you stop to think about it, your return has all the information needed to steal your identity. Therefore, it’s important to take steps to be sure this information is secure.

If your computer does not update your spyware daily, I recommend you install this feature before sending out your tax return on-line. It’s usually very simple and takes just a minute or two. My computer up-dates at 3am in the morning every day. You can set the time for your computer to up-date at any time you like. If you don’t have any protective spyware , you can download several different programs at a nominal fee. There are many free spyware programs available as well. Do some research, and decide which one best meets your needs. Talk to your friends or a computer center to see which one they recommend. I use AVG Spyware and have very pleased with it, and it’s free.

Windows Internet Explorer 7 browser also has a feature to keep your identity safer.

I talked about phishing in an earlier post. It’s when you are scammed into providing your personal data to an individual or company that are supposedly helping you. These emails usually tell you your account has been breached and they need this information to protect you. What they are actually doing is collecting your information to steal your identity. Before disclosing personal information, check out the company or website . Be sure they are legitimate as well as “a secure” website. If you feel you’ve sent your information to a fake, phishing, website report it immediately to the appropriate institutions. Such as: IRS , FTC , Federal Trade Commission and an organization called the Anti-Phishing Group. If you have used a credit card, call and cancel it. This will minimize any damage that might have been done.

You should also change your passwords on all your online accounts if you feel you’ve been compromised. Especially accounts related to any of your financial information.

A good program to download is Windows Defender. This program was originally called Windows Spyware and is a free Microsoft program. It reviews and protects against possible unwanted software.

The best defense against identity theft on the computer is educating yourself on ways people steal your identity and the programs available to protect yourself. It is important you up-date your security programs routinely.

Posted on March 20th, 2008 at 05:13 by Alex Smith in computer security,Email Security,Identity theft,security services - Comments (0)

As we are becoming a more “cash free” society, the crime of Identity Theft is increasing at an alarming rate. The criminals are also getting more sophisticated in their means to accquire your personal information. Identity Theft is a serious crime and can damage your credit without you knowing it. Getting your credit restored can be costly and it take s a long time to correct the damage done by Identity Theft.

The first line of defense is to know some of the many ways people steal your identity:
* If you see anyone going through a dumpster or someone’s trash, report it immediately. They may be looking for discarded bills, credit applications, or anything that might have any personal information on it.
*Do not give any information to someone calling you or emailing you trying to “up-date” your account informatiom. Banks and credit card companies do not do this. They already have your information.
*Be careful where you use your credit card. Some shady merchants may have a systen that duplicates your credit card infomation as you use your card. This is called “skimming.” This can occur on items you purchase over the internet as well. “Caveat empore”, let the buyer beware.
* Report immediately any bill that you were suppose to receive but it hasn’t arrive when you expected it. Criminals will take them out of your mail box to obtain your information. Don’t leave personal information in your desk or file cabinet at work.
* Another ploy is to put in a change of address form to another location to re-route your mail.
*They can steal your wallet or purse. Call your credit card companies and cancel your card. Also, report to the three major credit bureaus immediately. They can block anyone from changing or adding to your accounts. There is a toll free number for each bureau and when you report to them they are required by law to send you a “free” credit report.

The three main credit bureaus are:
Equifax 1-800-525-6285
Experian 1-888 397-3742
TransUnion 1-800-680-7289

You can obtain more information from the government by calling a toll free number 1-877-438-4338 or logonto their website.

Posted on February 27th, 2008 at 07:11 by Alex Smith in computer security,Email Security,Identity theft,security services - Comments (0)

Back again tauting another Biometric product. They really have done some great research and development. It’s called “Access Q”.

It’s a fingerprint access to several different applications. It’s so versatile because it can be programmed into so many points of access to your business. It can limit anyone to just one area of a building or program. It can let a person access at certian times or devices. In other words, it let you completely control ALL access to any area or part of your intelligence of your business by fingerprint information.

You can gain more information to their website: usbiometrics.com.


Posted on November 8th, 2006 at 19:07 by Alex Smith in Home Security,security services,wireless security systems - Comments (0)

To have or not to have; that is the question. My personal opinion is to have the loudest siren/sounder you can have with your security system.

The idea of a loud sounder is two fold: 1. let the criminal know he has been detected and 2. let your neighbors know someone may have broken into your home or business.

Some people tell me, “I want a silent alarm so I can catch the burglar.” The fact is that even with an alarm system, the chances of catching the criminal is slim to none. They are not in your home long enough to be caught. They want to jump and grab and be gone in less than five minutes. A loud siren is likely to deter them.

So why have an alarm system? Because you want to limit the time they have in your home and if a burglar sees you have an alarm system he may very well bypass your home. He doesn’t want the hassel of the system or the chances he may be detected and caught.

Almost all of the burglars that were interviewed in prison said if the home had an alarm system they would bypass that home.

Another device I recommend are strobe lights. Imagine if you violated my home and this loud noise is going off and this bright strobe light is flashing, what would you do? Most likely you would get out of dodge in a hurry. Here again, this bright flashing light directs the police to your home easily even in the darkest of nights.

Some communities have noise ordinances them. So before you install a siren, check your local police or city hall to see what ordinances they have in your community.

Remember that a steady sounding siren means a break-in and short bursts of the siren mean fire.

Write down anything you see to tell the police when they get there. Vehicle descriptions, license plate numbers, description of the person fleeing the home, time the alarm went off, etc. Do not put yourself in danger. Let the police do their job.


Posted on March 17th, 2006 at 14:38 by Alex Smith in home surveillance and monitoring,security services,wireless security systems - Comments (2)

When thinking about having a security system installed there are 6 aspects to consider. I will be listing each and discussing the values of each in the next few weeks.

Basically they are: (1) yard signs & window/door decals, (2) perimeter window & door contacts, (3) interior protection devices, (4) fire protection,(5) carbon monoxide detectors, (6) special partitions.

The yard signs & window decals are very important. It lets a would be thief know you are protected by an alarm system. A burglar does not want to encounter an alarm system because first it limits the time he has to steal from you and there is a good possibility he will get caught.

Would you break into a house with an alarm system when your neighbor does not have one??? Which one would you burglarize??? Place your signs & decals on all sides of the house so your home cannot be approached by someone and not know you have an alarm system.

It is important that you research the alarm company carefully before you sign a contract with them. Most alarm companies require that you to sign at least a three year monitoring contract. It is very hard to get out of this contract if you are dissatisfied with your service.

Some questions to ask:
1. Is the monitoring center UL Approved.
2. How many agents are on duty at any time? (some smaller compaies only have one or two on duty. If there are a lot of calls coming into the center at the same time, some calls could be lost.)
3. Do you send a call report of alarms?
4. Is your company licensed by the state?
5. What kind of security checks does your company perform on your personnel? Does the sales representative have a license by the state, also the installing technician? (Most states do a criminal background check on all alarm company employees and require them to carry and update this at all times.)
6. Is the equipment you install UL approved?
7. Is an alarm license required by the city you live in? If so, what penalties does the community impose for multiple alarms?

A good idea is to call your local police department and ask them what alarm companies they have the most problems with. They can’t recommend a company but they can tell you about the companies that do inferior work. Ask your neighbors who have an alarm system.

Be sure and do your research before you install an alarm system.

Mistakes made in installing an alarm system:

Most alarm systems are tied into your phone system to call the monitoring center when the alarm is activated. Quite often the alarm companies tie the alarm system into your phone line leaving the wire exposed to the outside. Even if they tie it into the phone lines inside the home, the out-going phone lines are still exposed outside the home. These exposed lines can be cut by a would be burglar so the alarm system will not call the monitoring center.

There are several solutions to this problem. The easiest way is to have your alarm technician to run a (6) wire to connect the system to your phone line. They have to run a (4) pair anyway so the extra pair could be used for a loop when cut would sound the alarm.

The best solution is a “cellular system“. This system is secured inside your home and will automatically sieze the line if the phone line goes down for any reason. This system will call the monitoring center via radio waves just as your cellular phone system works. This is the best protection you can add to your security system. The expense is worth every penny for security.

There are also “line siezure” systems. These monitor your phone line at all times and if there is and interuption of phone service your alarm will activate causing the siren to sound. Even if they phone line is cut, the burglar does not know if you have a wireless back-up system. So when the system goes into alarm and the siren is blaring away the burglar will flee.

Talk to your alarm company and ask about the different ways they have of protecting your phone lines. A system that does not report to the monitoring center is dangerous. It gives you a false sense of security.

Posted on November 30th, 2005 at 20:01 by Alex Smith in Home Security,Home Security Systems,security services,wireless security systems - Comments (0)

I know everyone thinks they have the perfect place to hide a key to their home incase they lock themselves out.

The problem is many people use the same hiding place. It is not wise to leave a hidden key for your home. In fact, take a look at your home as a burgler would do. That’s where you hid your key.

Some would be criminals actually follow the school bus and watch the children coming home.

Example: Let’s see, this is 123 Any Street and little johnny went to the third rock from the front door. I’ll come back tomorrow when everyone is gone.

There are new door locks in which a key is not necessary. It unlocks using a numbered key pad. You decide what numbers you want to use to unlock the door. They cost approximately $100.00. This product makes your home more secure.

Many homes have been robbed by hidden keys and the owners wonder how they got into the house. If a key gets lost or stolen, it will cost you more than $100.oo to change locks.

Posted on November 13th, 2005 at 18:49 by Alex Smith in Home Security,security services - Comments (0)

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