How to Protect Your Home Alarm From Hackers

By Ernest Hamilton , Updated Oct 08, 2020 01:14 PM EDT
How to Protect Your Home Alarm From Hackers
(Photo: How to Protect Your Home Alarm From Hackers)

Having a home security system has become a must in this day and age, but is it enough? The short answer would be: Yes.

The long answer is: yes, but you must ensure that it does not get hacked. Contemporary home security systems are so advanced that it is impossible to beat them without hacking. Even if you have installed the best security system you can find, you are not hundred percent safe. Thieves are very diligent in following technological developments in the home security sector. As the technology develops, they develop countering techniques. 

Home security system is composed of sensors and the central unit which is in most cases a control panel too. Sensors pick up breaches in security like: breaking a window or someone moving in the backyard. They send the data to the control panel and it activates the appropriate response: sounding an alarm and/or notify the security company. The only way that the perpetrator can get in without getting noticed by the sensors is to somehow hack the system. 

So, how do they do it? It depends on the type of system you have installed. More precisely what is the main way of communication between all parts of the system. Nowadays most systems use either IoT (internet of things) or the radio waves. IoT systems are still in development and not thoroughly tested. Since IoT came into use there have been numerous accounts of hacking. One of the hacking incidents was so big in scale that it brought down Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit, and CNN at the same time. So what is the main cause of IoT hacking vulnerability? The owners don't properly use the equipment. For example, many people leave the default password on their router, or they use the same password for everything.

The other method is radio signal. Radio signals can also be interrupted. Thieves know that the security system uses radio signals to connect the sensors to the central unit. So they will disrupt that signal before attempting the breach. If they succeed no alarms will go off, and the security company won't be notified. There are widely available tools for "jamming" the radio signals. Try to search them on google and you'll see that one can obtain such a device for less than ten bucks. They can either use it to block the signal and disable the alarm or they will create fake emergencies.

If the alarm goes off dozens of times with no apparent reason people will think it is broken. One of those times it will not be a false alarm and burglary will happen. Another way this tool can be used is to check if the alarm is even turned on. The person with such a device can drive by houses and choose the one where owners forgot to turn the alarm on. 

What is the solution?

1. Follow the product instructions! This may be obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don't do it. Many home security systems fail just because they were used incorrectly or simply because owners forgot to turn them on. 

1. Invest in a high quality professionally monitored system. It is a system that is in constant communication with a chosen company. Employees monitor every suspicious activity 24/7. The system can then send much more information for the human to evaluate. You don't want to get an emergency notification every time the cat passes your front door, but the security company must check out every disturbance. 

2. Don't use the same password for your facebook, google account and home security. Change your passwords regularly. Set up a multi-factor verification system for logging in to the system. 

3. Install a complete system with independent parts. Set of security cameras, window and door sensors, motion sensors for rooms and backyard. So in the event that criminals disable one system (for example the cameras), sensors will still be running and can registar the breach.

4. Set up an power supply alternative. If the power is cut, systems stop working. But if you have a backup power source that jumps in when needed it will remain turned on. You can buy some good quality batteries or some commercial grade UPS (uninterruptible power source)

5. Look for clues. Any change in the system's behavior is a potential threat. Don't get paranoid, just be reasonably cautious. If you see any suspicious damages to gates or equipment, contact the security company. No matter how negligible is the damage, even a little scratch can reveal the failed breakin attempt (and help prevent future ones).

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