Security System Control Panels & Apps

An electronic home security system can provide peace of mind when it comes to protecting your home and your loved ones.

The nerve center of any home security system is the control panel. It handles all the functions of the system; monitoring the sensors placed on the doors and windows of your home and communicating with the security company if an alarm is triggered. It can also have panic buttons to sound alarms or summon police, the fire department, or emergency medical services. Home security systems can also be outfitted with smoke detectors, water sensors, and carbon monoxide sensors to protect your home against more than just intruders. The panels also have a twenty four hour back-up battery in order to maintain protection of your home even in the event or a power outage. The GE Home Security System control panel, used by security providers in their security systems, can connect to up to forty sensors and perform all of these functions wirelessly. (1)

The security system panels can be programmed with multiple codes for arming and disarming. If your children are expected to get home from school before you do, you can give them their own security code for the alarm system that lets you know when they have entered the house. You can also, if you wish, provide access codes to anyone who might be working in your home, such as a baby sitter or housekeeper. The alarm system’s control panel can also alert you to anytime a door or window is opened, thus keeping anyone from sneaking in or out of the house.

Your security system control panel can also be connected to your homes’ lights, heating and air conditioning, and even appliances. Being able to control all of these functions from one location is what’s known as home automation.

The majority of home security systems today are compatible with free downloadable apps that can control the system remotely. Not only can you arm and disarm the system from anywhere but the app will alert you to any alarms while you are out of the house. If you have provided multiple access codes to your family or people who will be working in your home, the app can alert you to who has entered the home and when. Any home automation features can also be activated with the home security app, allowing you to turn on lights, climate control, and appliances to have your home just the way you like it by the time you get home.

An electronic home security system with a remote control app can offer you peace of mind and protection whether you’re at home or away.

What is Business or Commercial Identity Theft?

Business or commercial identity theft happens when thieves use an existing business’ name to get credit, or they may bill a business’ clients for products and services. Sometimes the Social Security number of a company’s officer or another representative is required to commit business identity theft.

A big problem is that identifiers, such as federal IDs or employer identification numbers, are readily available in public records, dumpsters, or internally at banks and other creditors—which makes the ease of access to these numerical identifiers a catalyst for business identity theft. Business identity theft perpetrators are often former employees or current employees with direct access to the books and other forms of financial documentation. These schemers have ample opportunity to pad the books in favor of fraud.

Business identity theft victims don’t usually find out about the crime until big-time losses accumulate, or an audit occurs and someone discovers discrepancies on the books. Because of the hidden nature of the transactions, businesses can lose vast amounts of money. Business identity theft can remain undetected for years.

How can you protect yourself from business or commercial identity theft?

  • Inside job: Business identity theft, or commercial identity theft, is an inside job. Employees often have access to documents that include owners’ and board members’ Social Security numbers, as well as the business’ tax ID number.
  • Need-to-know basis: This information must only be accessed on a need-to-know basis by employees with proper credentialing. Even then, be suspect. It is imperative that this information stays secure.
  • Checks and balances: Organizations should put a check-and-balance system into place, ensuring that for every employee who has access to company accounts, there are two employees—preferably upper management—who are assigned to make sure the books are balanced, that no money is missing, and that financial statements are double-checked for inaccuracies.
  • Forensic accountants on retainer: In some instances, it is necessary to contract with forensic accountants or examiners to pay close attention to a business’ books and work to put monitoring systems in place.
  • Identity theft protection: Identity theft protection can be a helpful tool to keep officers or owners informed of potential illicit activities, because a Social Security number is often required to open accounts under a business’ name.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

New Smartphone Owner? Pay attention

Recent reports show smartphones are outselling dumbphones for the first time ever. Dumbphones are actually called feature phones, which is odd because they don’t offer many features. Well, they do, like a camera, texting, crude internet access, and a few other extinct bells and whistles—but not as many as a smartphone.

The Wall Street Journal reports,Smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales globally, research firm Gartner said…. The growth, up 46.5 percent compared with the same quarter last year, is driven by sales in the sub-$100 Android market.” The fact that Android’s lower prices reflect the rise in smartphones is significant due to the fact that Apple’s new iPhone 5C will be priced at $100 or less and older-model iPhones can be had for pennies with a two-year contract.

This is big. This means millions and millions more people are now using smartphones. (My dad got his first smartphone with the iPhone 5. The man won’t stop texting me pics of squirrels on his deck, deer in his yard and birds on the 30 feeders he has.)

The technology in smartphones today is just astounding. Whether you use an iPhone, Android or even a BlackBerry, having the world at your fingertips makes getting things done far more efficiently. Besides the obvious benefits of communications, multimedia and online shopping, a smartphone is a great way to save money. Just the other day, I went to a store to make a purchase and was floored by the cost of an item that I usually buy every two or three years. I immediately went online via my smartphone and found what I was looking for—for 90 percent less than what I had almost paid. Frankly, I don’t know how brick-and-mortar shops survive when consumers have this kind of access to price comparisons.

Now that you are a new and proud smartphone owner, you must recognize you are no longer using simply a phone. It’s a little computer. And can be hacked in the same way as that big one you have in your basement office. You can’t carry this little PC around and not keep security in mind. So here’s the guide to care and feeding of your little computer:

Operating system (OS). Update your operating system when required. The device itself has settings that will alert you to new updates. Never update your OS because you receive a text message telling you to do this. It’s a scam.

Password protect it. This isn’t a feature phone. It’s a smart little computer that accesses applications and data. If your phone is lost or stolen, you want it password protected.

Invest in Locate/Lock/Wipe software. Whether built into the OS or downloaded as an app from a third party, get software that will remotely locate your device if it is lost, then will lock it if needed and wipe the data.

Protect your wireless. Not all wireless is created equal. Your carrier’s 3G/4G has a level of encryption that’s crackable, but unlikely to be cracked—whereas any open or free WiFi connection can expose your device and its data to criminals. Installing Hotspot Shield VPN (available for both  iPhone and Android) will encrypt all WiFi communications, protecting you. And it’s free.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

Monitoring Grey Charges Can Save You Hundreds

I use Grammarly’s online english grammar check because Grammarly watches writers backs like a bodyguard.


Grey charges—deceptive and unwanted credit and debit card charges that occur as a result of misleading sales and billing practices—total more than US$14 billion per year among US debit and credit cardholders.

The prevalence of grey charges among a randomly selected surveyed set of BillGuard customers found 35% were hit with at least one grey charge in 2012, averaging approximately $215. A year’s worth of data from BillGuard reveals interesting patterns in the prevalence of grey charges over time.

For example, the study showed that 3 in 1,000 debit and credit card charges are grey charges. Among those with at least one grey charge, 24% had 3–5 grey charges, nearly 1 in 10 had 6–10 grey charges, and 10% were hit with 11 or more grey charges in 2012.

Monitoring grey charges can save cardholders millions of dollars.

The data reveals that using the BillGuard service helped cardholders significantly reduce the occurrence of grey charges. BillGuard customers saved, on average, almost US$81 from monitoring and eliminating grey charges. Had grey charges gone unchecked and remained at the Q1 level, BillGuard customers would have been hit with $165 in grey charges per customer. The Aite Group estimates that debit and credit cardholders could save nearly US$7 billion (of the roughly US$14.3 billion in total grey charges) by monitoring and tracking grey charges.

Consumers can fight back by finding and resolving grey charges with the new BillGuard iPhone app. The free app intelligently prioritizes noteworthy, recent, and recurring charges across all of a cardholder’s credit and debit cards. The app uses crowdsourced analytics from BillGuard’s national Transaction Intelligence Network™ to help users quickly spot and recognize charges deemed questionable by other cardholders on their cards. As users archive verified charges and trusted merchants with a single swipe of the finger, BillGuard gets smarter, customizing their priority list with only the charges they want to review.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert & and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailadress -to 411247.

Preacher Charged with Burglary

Can you believe it? A man of the cloth was up to no good. What has the world come to?

A pastor from Tennessee was caught on a security camera trying to break into the home of one of his parishioners. It’s not the prison-heading pastor’s first pass with the po-po; it seems he’s got a nasty drug habit that’s seemingly hard to break, and he’s been busted before.

USA Today reports: “[The suspect] was already on probation after pleading guilty in 2011 to aggravated burglary in Rutherford County, avoiding a four-year prison sentence by begging a judge for mercy, forgiveness and a chance to treat his addiction.”

His victim was a 70-year-old spitfire named Jewel, who was quoted saying, “I opened the back door and there he stood in the kitchen. I grabbed him by his shirt and I said, ‘I got you now, you ain’t goin’ nowhere,’” she said. “He kept saying, ‘Jewel, let me go.’ I said, ‘No! You stole my medicine.’”

Drugs, man. Drugs. Drugs make people do stupid, desperate things. Lucky for Jewel, the pill-popping pastor wasn’t violent, but he apparently still has his own demons to exorcise, and it seems he needs to cast aside his evil ways and practice what he preaches.

Jewel and her fellow churchgoers need to understand they can only pray for protection so much, but then they need to take action too. Much of society sits back and keeps their fingers crossed, hoping such a thing won’t happen to them. And when it does, even after their pastor was busted years earlier and they invite him back, they wonder how and why this could’ve happened—because that’s his “normal.”

Bad, as we know it, works in mysterious ways.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Why Child Identity Theft is Dangerous

Identity theft in the form of new account fraud can happen to anyone with a Social Security number, which includes virtually any American with a pulse…as well as some who no longer do. Identity theft can even happen to your newborn baby shortly after a Social Security number has been issued to him or her and this could have long term implications for your child.

Within days of your child’s birth, you typically sign documentation prior to being released from the hospital, and a Social Security number is issued within a few weeks. That number is promptly distributed to many entities: the U.S. Social Security Administration, the hospital, your doctors’ offices, your insurance company, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—and anyone who has access to the relevant documents or files can also gain access to a person’s identity.

There is a growing trend among identity thieves to steal the identities of children, especially infants because it is unlikely that your child or you as parent, will be checking their credit report, since they are too young to talk let alone have a credit card. Child identity theft occurs when the identity of someone under the age of 18 is compromised. When this occurs, the child’s Social Security number is used to open up new accounts. The new accounts opened could be anything from credit cards to bank loans to automobile loans.

Your child’s records represent a clean slate for the criminal and it usually takes years before the theft is discovered. Often, the first time victims discover that their identity was stolen is when they engage in their first financial transaction and try to establish credit by, for example, purchasing a cell phone or buying a car.

There have been far too many instances of parents receiving a call from a bill collector informing you that your two-year-old bought a Mercedes and defaulted on a loan. Or perhaps law enforcement may come knocking on your door to inquire about crimes committed by your newborn child. So besides damaged credit, you child could have income tax liability or a criminal record as the result of identity theft.

The best protection against child identity theft is comprehensive device security, like McAfee LiveSafe™ service, along with filing a fraud alert with the credit bureaus every quarter with the hope that you are denied, because a credit report doesn’t exist—means your child’s identity is still safe. As parents we need to be vigilant about protecting our own and our kids’ information.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked!  Disclosures.

5 Tips to Backdoor Home Security

The old adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link rings true with home security too. A home is only as secure as its weakest door, window or lock. So in this post, I’ll address means of egress: doors.

Front doors are often decorative and, most often, heavy with a solid core, giving the impression of security. What’s funny to me is that all a burglar has to do is go into the back yard to find a flimsy wooden door that often has up to nine panes of glass. This is called a “9-Lite Entry Door” and is often an easy target for thieves. The reality is that all a burglar has to do is break one of the nine windows nearest the doorknob and reach in to open. We’ve all seen this in a movie when the villain is going after his target. Side-entrance garage doors and walkout basement doors are often constructed the same way.

Protect your alternate entrances:

  1. Solid-core doors: The obvious solution here is to install solid-core “front doors” with minimal (or no) windows at the garage, side entrance, walkout basement and back door.
  2. Doorjamb reinforcement: Consider door reinforcement technologies that beef up the hinges, strike plate, doorjamb and wrap around the knob and deadbolt.
  3. Camera surveillance: Rear entrances are attractive to criminals because they are often hidden and out of plain sight. Installing security cameras with signage may make a burglar think twice.
  4. Home security: Install a monitored home security system—or, at a minimum, install motion sensors, stickers and signage alerting a burglar your home is alarmed.
  5. Lock your doors: It’s not enough to have quality locks like Schlage locks as your doorknob and deadbolt—you also have to lock them! Many burglaries happen simply because people don’t lock their doors!

Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussinghome security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

10 Tips to Better Password Security

Now that Apple has rolled out its new “Touch ID” fingerprint biometric technology, none of us ever has to enter a password ever again….NOT. While biometrics is certainly an option for authentication and a fingerprint is the most likely method of password deployment, it will be a long time until (if ever) a fingerprint is the sole way in which we are identified. I do, however, believe fingerprinting is a good thing, and with science and technology working together, someday we might perfect biometrics—and it will not be considered an invasion of one’s privacy, either.

In the meantime, here’s how to improve your password security:

Use different passwords. At least use different passwords for each of your accounts. Using the same ones gets you in trouble with others when one account is hacked.

Cover the keyboard. Use your other hand to cover the keys as you type and be sure no one watches when you.

Log off. Log off when you leave your device, even if it’s just for a minute. Open accounts allow password resets.

Antivirus that thing. No matter your device’s age, use security software and keep it up to date to avoid malware.

Only use your devices. Never enter passwords on computers such as at internet cafés or library PCs, which may have malware.

Use a VPN. When entering passwords on unsecured WiFi connections at an airport or coffee shop, hackers can intercept your data. But with a virtual private network, you eliminate that risk.

Don’t share passwords. Your buddy/mate may not be your buddy/mate forever.  People change. And they become vindictive sometimes.

Change your passwords regularly. Change your passwords semi-annually and avoid reusing passwords.

Beef up your passwords. Use at least eight lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, characters or symbols in your password.

Use a password manager. Google “password manager” and get one. It can create and store passwords on all your devices and browsers.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

What is Synthetic Identity Theft?

Identity theft is first and foremost a problem because we rely on numerical identifiers that attach humans to credit and a variety of services. Once a criminal gets hold of those identifiers, he can simply be you. But when that thief takes on those numerical identifiers and attaches another name or date of birth, he confuses the already broken system further and creates what is called synthetic identity theft.

Synthetic identity theft happens when a person’s identity is partially or entirely fabricated in some way. What defines it as synthetic is when a criminal uses a real Social Security number with another person’s (or fake person, i.e. synthetic) and combines it with a name and date of birth that’s not associated with the number via the credit bureaus or anywhere else. This is a hard type of fraud to discover because the fraud rarely appears on the victim’s credit report or on the perpetrator’s credit report because it’s a fake person. With synthetic identity theft, the criminal often succeeds in creating a new credit file—or, in some cases, a subfile—that may end up on the victim’s credit.

Synthetic identity theft is a problem for victims, of course, but creditors take an even bigger hit. Creditors that grant credit based on fake records and fake people have little recourse. But it also complicates things for individual victims if their names become associated with synthetic identities, like when credit scores are negatively affected because of information in a fraud-based subfile.

Identity theft protection might pick up your SSN with a different name when it’s used for credit. But if it doesn’t catch it, then the restoration component may also help to clean up the mess.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.

Home Invasion Ends in Gun Battle

So a recent Bay Area home invasion ended in a gun battle. You know why? Because it’s a home invasion. That’s often what happens when a person’s home is invaded. If the homeowner has a gun and can get to it, he pulls it out and starts shooting. But chances are the home invader has a gun too. Next thing you know, it’s like the O.K. Corral and bullets are flying all over the place. Not cool.

NBC reports: “Three suspects had entered the home and confronted a total of four people inside at the time. According to police, a gun battle broke out between the suspects and a 24-year-old man. When they arrived at the home, police said they found the 24-year-old with a gunshot wound. His wound is not considered life threatening. Police found guns, bullet holes and blood at the scene. They believe two of the suspects were shot during the exchange of gunfire. Some shots were fired outside of the home.”

This is what happens in small towns and big cities everywhere. Home invasions aren’t isolated incidents that occur out of the blue; they are planned by bad people who have bad intentions, and they are violent and often end in death. Some home invasions happen when the victim is known to the perpetrators, while others are complete strangers.

The best way to protect yourself from a home invasion is to layer your home with multiple layers of security, including:

  • A monitored home security system that is on when you’re home, gone and sleeping.
  • Motion-activated security cameras connected to a DVR recording 24/7/365.
  • Reinforced steel solid-core doors.
  • Door reinforcement technologies that beef up the frame, hinges, locks and jamb.
  • Strong locks that can’t be easily picked or broken off.
  • Shatterproof window film that prevents glass breaks.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.