Could Hackers Take Over Your Home? (Infographic)

Could Hackers Take Over Your Home?

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How Burglars Choose Their Victims

Burglar At A WindowABC News reports that burglaries occur in more than eight thousand homes across the nation every single day. According to the FBI’s 2012 crime report, a home burglary occurs every 15 seconds. In 2012, the victims of burglary offenses lost nearly $5 billion in property.

Unfortunately, fewer than 15 percent of home burglars are ever arrested for their crimes. This means that six out of seven can remain active for years. Losing your belongings is bad enough, but then consider that many victims remain haunted by this incident. This kind of violation frequently leaves homeowners’ fearful that they could become victims all over again.

Common Techniques Burglars Use to Choose their Victims

Some of the ways that burglars choose their victims is surprising. Things that you never thought twice about could be putting you and your family at risk.

1. You have expensive toys lying around in the yard.

The expensive toys kids leave out in the yard may make a thief wonder about the gaming system they have.

2. Your home offers easy entry.

A window left open during the day makes entering your home easy. If you want to leave a window cracked, place something into the track above the window to prevent it from opening wide enough for someone to crawl through.

Thieves going door to door, generally knock first. When no one answers, the thief may try to open the door. If the door is unlocked, the burglar walks right in.

It is not unheard of for a repair person or other service personnel to come back later and help themselves to some of the items they complimented you on earlier in the week. Make it a habit to check all your windows and doors to make sure that they are all securely locked following every service call.

3. Your home has curb appeal.

Curb appeal may help you sell your home, but it can also make you a target. After cruising around your neighborhood, a thief will decide which home he believes will offer him the most lucrative haul. Therefore, the challenge you face is making your home appealing to look at, but difficult to burglarize.

4. What is in your garbage.

Yes, thieves will even use your garbage to determine if you are a good target. This is especially true following a holiday like Christmas. The boxes you throw away can let a thief know that you had a lucrative holiday. Those empty boxes from your new surround sound system and 50” LED high-definition television give it away.

You Have Little to No Control Over Some Things that Make you a Target

For example:

1. When a burglar scopes your neighborhood to look into windows.

Burglars will sometimes walk or drive through neighborhoods at night to look in the windows of homes. Many times, they are looking for flat screen televisions and game systems.

2. You live in a single story home.

Burglars do not like entering attics, going upstairs or into basements. The burglar fears that he will become trapped if the police or homeowner arrives. Additionally, many two-story homes have the master bedroom located on the second floor. The master bedroom is usually one of the main targets during a burglary. For these reasons, single story homes are a more desirable target.

3. You live in a townhome.

Many times, the sliding glass doors in townhomes are secured poorly and the back yards are enclosed. These characteristics make townhomes the perfect choice for a burglar.

Your Home’s Location Could be Putting you at Risk

1. Your home is located in the middle of the block.

Corner houses are more visible so thieves will avoid them and generally target homes located in the middle of the block.

2. You live on a Cul-de-sac.

Cul-de-sacs put you at a higher risk because the police patrol them less frequently and they are usually close to wooded areas. The wooded areas are the perfect place to hide.

There are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of you and your family becoming targets. Exterior lighting and home alarm systems can help keep you, your family and your belongings safe.

Is Your Home Sending Inviting Signals to Burglars?

Burglar Peeks Into The HouseYou know that sage advice that goes something along the lines of, “To understand someone, you have to walk a mile in his shoes”? While that saying, or some version of it, is usually reserved for discussing the importance of empathy in understanding someone else’s actions, especially under adverse conditions, it’s a useful tool when figuring out the motivations of just about any person in your life, including would-be burglars. Thinking like a burglar isn’t all that difficult; that’s because outside of blockbuster action and suspense movies, most burglars are a pretty non-creative sort. They want the easiest, least complicated way to enter your home while avoiding observation. With that in mind, here are a few tips that can help you “think like a burglar” to evaluate your own home’s security risks and needs:

  • Do you ever leave your door unlocked when you make a “quick” run to the grocery store or on some other errand? Your neighborhood may seem safe enough, but homeowner indifference like this can provide just the opportunity a burglar needs to get into your home. Locking and unlocking your doors only takes a few seconds; make sure you do it each time you leave your home to significantly increase your security.
  • Be watchful of any repair person you let into your home. Use reputable companies – look for reviews online or ask neighbor or coworkers for recommendations. Even then, be sure to check windows and doors once the repair person leaves to make sure they haven’t left one unlocked, either unintentionally or intentionally. The same applies to your bathroom window if a repair person or tradesman asks to use your bathroom while in your home. Remember: Most burglars are part-timers with legitimate jobs, and they often pursue careers that afford them home access.
  • Selling items from your home is probably not a good idea. Advertising on sites like Craigslist can be a good way to get rid of items and make some cash, but letting strangers come into your home generally is not a good idea. Meet them someplace else whenever possible, and when it comes to donating items, take the items to the donation center yourself or at least leave them at the curb so volunteers won’t have to enter your home.
  • Going away? Have your mail and newspaper delivery suspended until you get back, and ask neighbors to keep an eye on your home and report suspicious activity. Also ask them to remove flyers from your doorknob or porch that can be a dead giveaway that no one’s home.
  • Be sure to install sturdy window locks or burglar bars on all your windows – even the ones on upstairs bedrooms. Most homeowners assume upstairs windows are safe from break-ins – and of course, burglars know that too. That’s why they often target upstairs windows first.
  • Avoid costly lawn ornaments. These often indicate to a burglar that there are more expensive goodies inside.
  • Keep your curtains tightly drawn at night when interior lights make it easy to see inside your home. An evening stroll for a burglar is about more than getting some exercise: It’s about scoping out his or her next target.
  • Beware of anyone you don’t know who knocks on your door. Most towns have laws that require salespeople to apply for and receive a permit to go door to door. Ask to see it before opening your door, or simply say “no thanks” without opening your door at all.
  • Don’t post your vacation plans on Facebook. Scanning Facebook posts is a popular way for burglars to find out who’s home and who’s not. Keep your plans off social media, and on personal accounts, only “friend” people you know and have reason to trust.

Thinking like a burglar isn’t so hard when you apply a little common sense. Implementing a few simple habits is all it takes to make your home more secure.

6 Safety Measures to Better Secure your Home Today

Key And LockNothing is more important that ensuring your family is safe. This makes securing your home a top priority. There are many things that the conscientious homeowner can do to make their home safer. Several of those things are steps you can take today – and sleep better tonight.

1. Remote Key Entry

When seconds count, fumbling for your keys can waste precious time. It can mean the difference between getting to safety indoors and becoming another statistic. Remote key entries for your vehicle, front door, and garage door can provide an exceptional security measure that can get you and your family to safety when seconds count.

Keyless entry is available as an option on many vehicles. It can also be added as an aftermarket accessory on most older vehicles. Several home security companies offer remote key entry for the home as an option with their system.

2. Secure Doors and Windows

This may seem like obvious advice, but according to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 30 percent of home invasions are what law enforcement refers to as “unlawful entry” which means the intruder gained entry to the home without the use of force. In other words, they entered the home through an unlocked window or door.

Make sure that you lock all windows, doors, patio doors, and garage doors. Before you leave, especially if you are leaving for several days, check all possible points of entry and make sure your home is locked up tight.

3. Lights on Timer (or on security system)

Statistics show that most burglaries occur during the months of July and August when many people are on vacation. When you leave for vacation or even overnight, put your lights on a timer so that they turn on and off at set times. This can be a deterrent against a break in because it give the appearance that someone is home.

You can purchase a timer for your lights at home improvement stores or stores that sell devices for the home. Some home security systems also come with timers for lights.

4. Don’t Post Vacation on Social Media

There is an alarming number of people who post their vacations and check-ins on social media. Criminals troll social media sites looking for that very thing. The would be burglar sees where Miss Suzy is checking in at a restaurant that is several states away from where she lives so he can reasonably conclude that her home is unattended. He swoops in, takes what he wants and is gone before she finished dessert. Don’t post your vacation info on your social media profiles. In fact, don’t post where you live or photos of your home, children, and other private matters on your profile. It simply isn’t safe.

5. Signs and Stickers

Alarm system signs and stickers can be an effect deterrent against break ins. When would be burglar sees a sticker on a window or a sign in a yard that indicates the home has an alarm system, he often will pass right on by. Some people have the signs and stickers but not the actual system. This is not recommended because it is well worth it to give your home that added layer or protection.

6. Alarm System

According to the FBI, approximately only 30 percent of homes are equipped with security systems. Homes that are not equipped with a security system are as much as three times more likely to experience a break in. Renters are also more prone to break in’s than homeowners, likely due to the fact that few renters invest in a security system.

Securing your home with an alarm system is a smart, effective way to secure your home and protect your family. When combined with these other home security ideas you can substantially decrease your risk of being burglarized or experiencing a break in.

How do you keep your home, property, and family safe? What is your favorite home security tip?

How to Leave Your Home While You Vacation

Families On Beach Making Sand Castles SmilingHow you leave your home when going on a business trip or for vacation can have a major impact on the odds of it being burglarized in your absence. If you are taking a trip, there are some relatively simple and inexpensive steps you can take to secure your home and create the impression you are still there.

1. Use timers on lights.

For a few dollars you can by light timers to give the impression someone is at home. The key is to buy several timers, place them on lamps in different rooms in your home, and set them to go on and off at different times. Don’t forget early morning hours when you would normally awaken. Timers set in different places at different times will serve as a deterrent.

2. Make arrangements for deliveries.

Make arrangements with a neighbor, relative or friend to retrieve mail from your mailbox and pick up any newspapers or flyers. The post office will also hold your mail but give them a few days notice. You may also not want to reschedule delivery until after a couple of days after your scheduled return. This will help in case there is a delay or issues with your return back home.

3. Leave a radio on.

A radio uses very little power and when set to a talk station it can may provide just enough doubt in a perpetrator’s mind to move on.

4. Minimize who you tell you will be gone.

Sure you’ll want to brag a little but keep your travel plans to close friends and relatives.

5. Be cognizant of social media and smartphone GPS.

If your two hundred friends on Facebook know you are gone and even your current location, your odds of experiencing a burglary increase. Be smart with your online data.

6. Make sure your yard is tended to.

If you mow your yard right before you leave and are only gone for a week you are in good shape. However if you are going to be gone two weeks or longer you’ll want to make arrangements with a trusted neighbor or friend or relative. Avoid hiring a landscape company for a one or two time mowing project, especially if you haven’t done business with them before. You’ll also want to make sure bushes are trimmed and don’t provide cover for an intruder.

7. Consider a home security system.

If you have considered a system, a time when you are going on vacation is a good time to investigate further. Many home alarm company’s offer trial periods. Sure you could install cameras and check in while you’re on the road but who wants to spend vacation time worrying about their home?

8. Invest in a motion detector for outside lights.

Motion detectors can be surprisingly effective, especially in the short term. Eventually, neighbors and anyone else who pays attention will figure it out, but for a week or two of vacation they can do the trick.

9. Have a family member check in.

No matter how hard you try, there can always be something that occurs that needs to be caught in a timely manner. These can include a sump pump failure, a power outage or some other event that needs attention quickly. Make sure someone close to you has keys and is willing to visit your home at least every several days.

10. If possible, pack your car while it is in the garage.

Nothing telegraphs a vacationing family like an open trunk and a car that is being loaded with suitcases. You certainly don’t need to be paranoid, but use discretion.

There is no need to spend your down time worrying about your property if you have taken simple, common sense and affordable steps before leaving your property. Of course, nothing replaces a robust security system but there are steps you can take to improve the odds of the security of your home in your absence.