People often take vacations over the summer, which makes it no surprise that July and August are the months with most break-ins. If you’re going away for a little vacation, use these tips to help keep your home and property safe.
Think Like A Burglar
Take a look at your home and think about the ways you would try to break in. These spots should be reinforced with extra security. You may also want to consider concealing your valuables. If burglars can see something they want through a window, they may be more likely to target that home.
Take pictures of your home and your belongings before you leave. In case a burglar does target your house, the photos can help to document any damage and help you create an inventory log with estimated values of your items. Both of these can be especially helpful for insurance purposes.
These will need to be adjusted if you have a house sitter or pet sitter coming and going, but, in general, you should:
To avoid returning to damaged property, turn off and unplug electronics, such as TVs, computers, or other devices, that could be damaged in the event of power surges. Depending on the length of your vacation, you may want to consider turning off the water and gas as well.
If possible, get your neighbors involved. Choose a trusted neighbor or two and politely ask them if they can keep an eye on things while you’re away, and offer to do that same if they leave. You can have the post office hold your mail, or have your neighbors pick it up, as well as any ads or flyers left on your door. You may also ask them to mow your lawn, trim plants, and set out trash cans, even if they are empty. This will help to keep up the charade that someone is occupying the home. Lastly, consider giving your most trusted a neighbor a spare key in case of emergencies.
If you’re looking to upgrade or add a surveillance system to your home or business, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. We carry a vast selection of quality security cameras, CCTV surveillance packages, and more at affordable prices. To schedule a free site survey or learn more about our installation services, please call 1-888-203-6294.
It seems like everyone is playing Pokémon Go. And if you’re not, you have at least witnessed others playing or have heard stories about it. For those who are not too familiar with it, Pokémon Go is a mobile game (available for both Android and iPhone) which uses your device’s ability to track time and location, allowing you to catch Pokémon like the original game. It creates an augmented reality where users must walk around to find Pokémon, and then throw virtual Poké balls to catch them.
Because the game requires you to walk around outside using your phone’s camera to see the Pokémon, you can likely imagine the dangers this can cause. In fact, there have been various stories in the news about how it can go wrong. Here are some tips on how to stay safe while playing Pokémon Go.
If you don’t feel safe, don’t go.
While catching a rare Pokémon can be quite alluring, it might be best to pass if it requires you to visit a questionable area. Different landmarks and real-life places are used for Poké Stops and Poké Gyms, however, the Pokémon are mostly randomly generated in various places (ex. backyards, inside buildings). These places are not always ideal, so use your best judgment when it comes to unsafe places or private property.
Be aware of yourself and others.
A large part of this game requires you to walk around staring at your phone. Remember, not everyone is playing the game so they may not understand what you are doing. Try your best to avoid loitering near homes or businesses. If someone approaches you, politely explain the game and what you are doing. Keep in mind that if someone feels uneasy about our presence, or if you are somewhere you shouldn’t be, they have the right to call the cops.
If you’re going for a long walk, be prepared.
Again, this game requires a lot of walking, especially if you catch an egg. Sometimes these walks can go on for longer than you expected. If you plan on heading out for a walk, be sure to bring water and plan your route out ahead of time with periodic rest stops just in case. That will minimize your risk of getting lost or overexerting yourself.
Be vigilant of your surroundings and your stuff.
Because Pokémon gyms and Poké stops are usually in highly populated areas, and are probably getting an increase in foot traffic, it is important to be mindful of your belongings. With so many people around, you never know if someone has bad intentions. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the game, so keep hold of your belongings to avoid someone walking off with it.
Watch out for scams.
Just days after its release, there were already scams out there, claiming you would have to pay a monthly for the free game. To clarify, you have the ability to make in-app purchases for in-app currency, however, outside of those, you do not have to pay to download or play the game.
Aside from that, be wary of lure modules on Poké stops, as these have already been used by armed robbers to attract players to a secluded area. That’s not to say that they’re all bad, but understand that some circumstances are questionable and, in that case, you may want to skip the chance and wait for the next opportunity.
Be courteous to others.
Another great aspect of this game, aside from getting people out of the house and on their feet, is the possibility of meeting and connecting with new people. With that being said, courtesy can go a long way. Don’t assume that every person engulfed in their phone is playing because it just simply isn’t the case. And if you approach someone and it seems like they don’t want to be bothered, leave them alone. If you’re the type who enjoys trash talk, please proceed with caution. This is meant to be a fun, light-hearted game.
As far as Poké stop locations go, if you are going to walk through a graveyard, be respectful of those who are there to grieve. The deceased have the right to rest in peace.
Installing a surveillance system in your home or business can provide you with a sense of security. However, if you do not properly secure your system, cyber criminals can gain access to your video feeds.
Aside from an unnerving invasion of privacy, unauthorized access to your surveillance video can help criminals study the area, identify where important property is located, figure out traffic patterns, sabotage systems, deny access to feeds, and much more.
Because IP security camera systems connect to LAN networks, extra precautions are necessary to safeguard your system from attacks. Breaches are usually due to human error, negligence, and misconfigurations, and can often be prevented. The following are common vulnerabilities and ways to protect your surveillance system.
Default usernames and passwords are common with most IP based security cameras. They are used to set up your system and accounts for remote access. Too often, people fail to change these passwords, or choose simple passwords, making it easy for strangers to access feeds.
Be sure to set strong passwords, use good password management or user certificates in lieu of passwords. You may want to consider changing your password periodically as well.
Avoid enabling unused services as it can leave your system vulnerable to attacks. For example, cyber criminals could install malicious applications and scripts using file transfer protocol (FTP) or an app platform from an untrusted developer.
Minimize your risk by disabling any unused services and installing only trusted apps.
Sometimes organizations fail to define who has access to different aspects of the surveillance system, possibly leading to confusion and employees with unnecessary access. For example, it may be unclear as to who is responsible for reviewing security measures to ensure proper protocol is being followed.
For IT departments, it is recommended to only allow users access to the resources they need to perform their job.
Bugs and flaws in software codes can put your devices at risk. Luckily, you can do your part to prevent this.
Always keep your cameras, equipment, and software up-to-date with the latest firmware to ensure that bugs will not pose a threat. Vendors often post public common vulnerabilities and exposure reports which provide solutions for users.
Physical Installation Problems
Whether it is your cameras, wiring, or other infrastructure, poor installation can leave your system at risk.
Cameras should be installed out of reach to avoid any possible tampering or vandalism, but at a proper angle to view people and objects clearly.
Poor Physical Protection Of Equipment (Cabling, Servers, Gear)
If your cabling, server, or other surveillance equipment is not properly protected, your system is at risk for poor, intermittent performance. A small kink or damage to a cable can interfere with signal, causing disruption in your feed or even power failure.
Appropriate housing to protect your equipment from severe weather or extreme heat is available and is recommended for use if you are in an area susceptible to these conditions.
Routine maintenance is ever important to ensure that your system is and will continue to function properly.
A preventative maintenance program should include a checklist of issues to look for in order to avoid small issues that can turn into big problems (ex. damaged/loose cameras and equipment, exposed, loose, or damaged cabling, dirt/moisture on camera lenses). This will allow the owner to become accustomed to the system and more aware when something seems different or wrong (ex. possible signs of tampering).
Flaws In Standard Network Protocols
Most network surveillance systems use standard network protocols (ex. FTP, TCP/IP), however, weaknesses or flaws in these protocols can expose surveillance data to attacks.
For video streams sent over the network, the latest advanced encryption methods should be used.
Failure To Align Hardware/Software On The Network With IT Policy
If your hardware or software does not meet your IT organization’s network security policy, there will be security issues. For example, third-party software or apps are often poorly supported or lack security patches which make them vulnerable to security breaches. Thus, your IT department will not be happy.
Enforcing a strong IT policy is imperative for any business.
Summertime is here, which means the heat (and your electricity bill) is rising. You may not have considered it before, but smart home automation can help you manage your energy consumption. By wasting less energy and using it more efficiently, not only will you be saving money on bills, but you can reduce your carbon footprint.
We could all use a little help when it comes to efficient energy consumption. To put our energy use in perspective, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans spend $241 billion on energy per year (approximately $2,100 per household).
So how can smart home automation help?
How many times have you left a room and forgot to turn off the light? According to the International Energy Agency, lighting accounts for 19% of global electricity use. Smart lighting can prevent you from wasting energy.
Thanks to infrared and photo cell technology, smart lights can distinguish whether there’s sufficient natural light in a given room or portion of a home. Along with motion detection, there smart devices can adjust your lighting accordingly in an effort to reduce unnecessary use.
Dimmers and lighting control solutions can also help. These devices reduce use by a 1:1 ratio, meaning if you dim your lights about 30%, your usage decreases by 30%. Added bonus: smart lighting can help to enhance the ambiance for parties or events.
It’s nice to walk into your home when it is set to the perfect temperature, but leaving your heater or air conditioner on all the time is not necessarily ideal. The U.S. Department of Energy states that heating and cooling constitute roughly half of your utility bill.
Luckily, smart thermostats allow you to control your thermostat remotely. In case you forget to turn off your system, or you want to start it up as you arrive home, you can access your thermostat with your smart phone or device. Furthermore, zone-based thermostats can divide your home into sections so that unoccupied rooms are not needlessly being cooled or heated.
Smart Power Strips
When you turn out the lights at night, do you see glowing LEDs staring at you? These are known as idle currents (“electronic vampires” if you will), which continue to use energy when left plugged in. Idle power accounts for 10% of household electricity use, which may seem like nothing, but it can certainly add up.
Instead of unplugging all of your devices when they are not actively in use, you might want to consider installing smart power strips. These can monitor your devices and detect when they go into standby mode and automatically shut them down.
There are plenty other options out there, such as smart irrigation systems and automatic faucets to help reduce water consumption. And amid the drought in California, this could be extremely beneficial. Do you employ any smart home devices that help your energy or water consumption? Share your favorites with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
For quality CCTV surveillance products and excellent customer service, choose SecurityCamExpert.com! We offer a wide selection of security cameras and accessories as well as affordable installation services and more. Visit us online or call 1-888-203-6294 to learn more.