Do It yourself home security getting easier

How would you like a home security system that’s also your personal assistant? Angee Inc., a new company out of San Francisco, knows you’d like one.

ANG2Features of the Angee Device

  • Smartphone controlled
  • Has a Full HD camera with night vision.
  • Learns habits of and senses presence of household members to automatically arm and disarm.
  • Camera rotates 360 degrees—and does so as it detects motion; intruders will not be able to get out of view while they’re burglarizing.
  • Security tags provide security of a property’s entire perimeter, so that entrance via a tagged door or window will be detected.

Furthermore, says an article on

  • The Angee system is portable, is powered by a battery and has local data storage.
  • So if there’s a power outage, Angee will be able to keep monitoring your home for at least eight hours.
  • Angee can record about an hour of high definition footage, and longer at lower quality.
  • Footage can also be stored in the cloud. However, Angee can distinguish between benign activity and suspicious activity, so there shouldn’t be any useless footage time.

How can Angee tell suspicious activity from normal activity?

  • It learns to recognize the movement patterns of household members. Intruders move differently.
  • Burglars also enter and exit their target homes in a peculiar manner.
  • If the burglar has an accomplice, there’s likely to be conversation, and Angee will detect these unfamiliar voices.
  • Angee will recognize familiar people by their voice or by a Bluetooth signal that connects with their smartphone.
  • If the Angee user has an iOS or Android, they will receive an alert when Angee detects suspicious activity; Angee will then stream video of this activity.

The article further explains that Angee can be controlled by voice commands, including recognition of vocal passwords. Angee is practically human, as it can even remind you to close windows if rain is predicted. It can also check your calendar and answer the phone. There are many ways the user can “program” Angee to behave, and Angee also gets smarter and more personalized the longer you have it in your home.

Through a Kickstarter campaign, Angee Inc., has raised over $260,000 and is still going. The unit is projected to retail at $429, and the expected delivery date is October of 2016.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist to Angee. Learn more about Angee in this Video. Support Angee on Kickstarter. See Disclosures.

Internet of Things and Home Security

Hah, that dual chamber deadbolt and the door jamb reinforcement! Yup, they’re good at keeping thieves from getting to your jewelry box and stash of $100 bills, but what about your bank accounts and identity?

5HIf you have any “smart” gadgets in your house, cybercriminals may be able to hack into these and burrow straight to your financial information, credit card information, Social Security number and everything else about you—and rip you off like no masked man picking your front door lock can.

In vulnerable devices, a hacker can gain access to your bank account number, passwords, usernames, etc., through your “connected” thermostat, baby monitor, even home security system. The Internet of Things is a godsend to cyberthieves. In short, if something in your house is wireless, it’s hackable, says a report on

Now this isn’t to say that you’d better toss that smart baby monitor or milk-spoilage detector, but it simply means that now is as good a time as ever to be aware of how hackers could exploit these gadgets. And that people should weigh the benefits and risks of convenience vs. hackability.

For example, will your life really be easier if your connection to the Internet is activated by your voice rather than finger on a mouse? So rather than go the route of convenient gadgets that don’t consider security, choose security devices that come with “smart” security features too.

For ideal security, all of a home’s connected devices should communicate with each other. This can’t happen if gadget 1 is from Company A; gadget 2 from Company B, and so on.

Again, there’s no need to fear that the connected baby monitor will give a hacker in Russia access to your savings account, but the Internet of Things has reached a point where we must give some pause to all of the possibilities.

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

Credit Card vs. Debit Card Fraud

One difference between a credit card and a debit card is that if there’s an unauthorized charge on your credit card, you just get a little sting. It’s a hassle to straighten out. But no money is taken from you.

2CBut if someone gets ahold of your debit card information, the second they use it, depending on the nature of the transaction, your bank account will be drained. And in some cases, you can kiss that money goodbye; you got scorched. More than ever, crooks are using others’ debit card data and sucking dry their bank accounts via ATMs—in an instant.

An article on outlines the differences between a credit card and a debit card:

  • Federal law protects you from unauthorized charges made with your credit card number rather than with the actual card.
  • In the event the credit card is in a thief’s hands, you’ll be liable, but only for a maximum of $50, provided you report the problem to the credit card company. However, in many cases a “zero liability” policy may kick in.
  • Debit cards fall under a different federal law than credit cards. Regulation E, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, says after two days, you could be liable for up to $50. After 2 days liability jumps to 500.00. Beyond 60 days, you could be liable for all unauthorized transactions. Otherwise, federal rules are on the bank’s side.
  • Beyond 60 days, there’s likelihood you’ll never see your money again.

How does the thief get one’s card information in the first place?

  • The thief places a “skimmer” in the swiping device of an ATM or other location such as a gas pump or even the swiping device at a checkout counter. The skimmer snatches card data when the card is swiped.
  • The thief returns at some point and retrieves the skimmer, then makes a fake card.
  • Thieves may capture PINs with hidden cameras focused on the ATMs keys. So when entering PINs, conceal the activity with your free hand.
  • A business employee, to whom you give your card to purchase something, may be the thief. He disappears from your sight with your card to swipe it at some unseen location. While away from you, he skims the data.
  • The thief sends out mass e-mails designed to look like they’re from the recipient’s bank, the IRS or retailers. The message lures the recipient into clicking a link inside the e-mail.
  • The link takes them to a site set up by the thief, further luring the victim into typing in their card’s information.
  • The thief calls the victim, pretending to be the IRS or some big outfit, and lures the recipient into giving out card information.

It’s obvious, then, there are many things that can go wrong. Your best solution is to pay close attention to your statements, online or via a mobile app, frequently.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention

How to Choose a Home Security Safe

Home safes aren’t just for expensive jewels and wads of $100 bills. They can be for anything you’d be crushed about if it were stolen, lost or burnt in a fire. This could be a birthday card that your child made for you when they were five, or a photo of you and your grandmother.

4HHome safes come in all sorts of designs and sizes. An article on provides tips in choosing the home safe that best suits your needs. Let’s first look at the three types of locking mechanisms: keypad combination, cylinder dial and keyed lock.

Keypad Combination

  • Fast access
  • Can be customized
  • Uses batteries (which means replacement is necessary).
  • This type of safe may be small enough for a burglar to just carry away, intending to figure out how to open it later. Bolt it to the floor.

Manual Dial

  • Requires knowledge and skill (including a screwdriver) to change the combination.
  • Because of this, most people settle for the manufacturer’s preset combination.

Keyed Lock

  • Some models/brands can be easily picked with paperclips; YouTube is full of tutorials. Buyer beware.
  • No thief is intimidated by this kind of locking system. At worst, he’ll just take the safe with him and deal with getting it open once he’s home. Bolt it to the floor.
  • Nevertheless, these safes can protect from water and fire damage.

A big heavy safe with a good locking mechanism is not inviting to a burglar. Ideally, the safest safe is big, heavy and has a digital or manual dial locking system. Even if you have only a few valuables, a big hulking safe will deter a burglar. But if you’re not concerned about burglars, at least be concerned about fire protection—or rather, slowing down a fire.

The ability of a safe to withstand searing heat varies. They are rated for this ability. For example, says the article, a common rating is that of one hour at 350 degrees. But this rating probably will not protect sensitive electronic items in a house fire. All safes have a fire and water protection rating.

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

Child Identity theft is becoming Solvable

You’ve seen TV commercials and print ads about identity theft, and the “victim” is always an adult. That’s not realistic. The actor-portrayal should be that of a child. Yes, a kid.

Children are 51 times more likely than adults to have their identity stolen, says research from Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab.

Crooks want kids’ Social Security numbers. And crooks like the fact that kids are debt-free. Wow, with no debt to the child’s name, the thief could easily open up a line of credit in that victim’s name and have a field day. Or, they can file a fraudulent income tax return.

The thief can then sit back and relax for many years because usually, the victim doesn’t learn something’s wrong until they’re 18 and applying for loans or a line of credit. By then, lots of damage has already been done.

Many thieves of children’s identity are family members. It’s easy for them to get their hands on the victim’s Social Security number and other data. Relatives coming and going in the victim’s house could make it too simple for someone to get ahold of private information if it’s not hidden and non-accessible.

How can we protect children’s identity from being stolen?

  • If you live in s state that offers a “credit freeze” then apply, right now. As of the writing: Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • Consider opting out of providing schools with personal information about your child. This can be done due to FERPA: Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. FERPA gives parents the right to authorize how much of their child’s personal information they want shared with a third party.
  • If a school fails to alert parents to this on a yearly basis, the school is breaking the law.
  • The FERPA does not necessarily apply to extracurricular activities of the school. Parents should investigate these on an individual level to see how much private information might be shared. For instance, a child’s Social Security number absolutely does not have to be given just for them to be on a softball team, member of the band, chess club, this or that.
  • Identity theft protection on a family plan should be a consideration. Generally these services will watch for activity regarding your childs SSN and new lines of credit.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention.

It’s Time for You to Use a Password Manager

If you are like me, you have several online accounts, each with a user name and password. Though it is tempting to use one password for every account, this can be troublesome as it is a huge security risk. So, what is your only option? To use a password manager.

2DAccording to a recently concluded survey conducted by uSamp and sponsored by Siber Systems, creators of the RoboForm Password Manager:

  • 42% write them down
  • 23% reported always using the same password**
  • 25% reported using personal information
  • Only 8% use a password manager tool
  • Only 37% report using phrases with a combination…

The statistics clearly show that a lot of the data breaches we see today are a result of poor password management.

A Password Manager? What Is It?

At a basic level, a password manager is a service that allows people to secure all of their account log in information with one master password.

  • With a password manager, you won’t have to worry about password compromises, and you can easily have a different password for every account without the need to remember them.
  • If one password is compromised, such as a Facebook password, you can be sure that the scammer will not have access to other accounts as they don’t have the same password any longer.
  • It is easier than you might think to hack into an account, but with this software, your passwords are protected, unique and strong.

Choose the Right Password Manager for Your Needs

There are many services out there offering password management software, some are free, some are paid, but all of them offer better protection than you would get by choosing nothing.

  • Some password managers are device specific, so make sure that if you use Apple products, for example, that you ensure the manager will work with your hardware.
  • Most password managers work on multiple platforms.
  • There are online and local password managers, too. An online manager allows passwords to be stored online, but they may not be as secure or as reputable as a local password manager.
  • Fortunately, there are many great online password managers, such as RoboForm. It can be used on all major browsers and across most devices. I’ve been using RoboForm for at least 10 years. It works lovely.

Password Managers: Final Thoughts

  • Take some time to research before choosing your password manager. It must be a trustworthy company.
  • You will be more secure than ever before, but nothing is fool-proof, so you still need to keep your devices security software updated and make sure you have copyies of all your passwords in an encrypted Excel file.

Robert Siciliano is a personal privacy, security and identity theft expert to RoboForm discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

Protect your Identity when saying “I Do”

7WWho has time to think about identity protection when planning a wedding? And why, for that matter? Well, there’s good reason: Marriage begets a change in identities. The months preceding the big day should be when the couple starts taking action to avoid identity theft.

  • If you’re using any website or smartphone application to organize your wedding, make sure it’s protected with a password—a long password that contains zero clues about your wedding, identity or anything else personal. An ideal password is upper/lowercase, numbers, long and can be remembered without keyboard sequences or actual words or proper names, and includes various symbols. Please, no HoneyBunch1 or St.LuciaWeGo.
  • Health insurance will be merged once you are husband and wife, so make sure that old insurance documentation is eradicated.
  • Wedding preparations involve a lot of spending, right down to the custom made napkins at the dinner reception. Some say pay with currency as much as possible, as checks and credit cards contain information that a thief could obtain. But really, pay with a credit card and closely watch your statements.
  • Make sure nobody can get into your mail box, because it will soon be receiving scads of documents reflecting a woman’s new last name, such as a driver’s license, credit card, Social Security card, to name a few. Get a locking mail box, and maybe have the post-wedding mail delivered to a P.O. box or to your post office and then retrieve it in person.
  • Buy a shredder. This is so that you can destroy all the reams of old documents with the previous surname. This would include old checks, the old ATM card, bank statements, driver’s license, auto insurance information and so much more.
  • Once on the honeymoon make sure your wireless devices that are connected to free WiFi are protected with a VPN to prevent hackers from snooping over free WiFi.

Now ideally, people should have already, long before meeting their soulmate, gotten into the habit of identity protection. This should be an ongoing process—as much ongoing for the chronically single person as for the gushing bride-to-be.

But it’s never too late to establish smart habits for identity protection. You will need to work with your spouse on just how very personal documents will be managed and filed. There are so many things to be aware of, including keeping monthly tabs on your credit card statements and yearly tabs on your credit reports.

And here’s a tip: Don’t assume your young child’s identity can’t be stolen. Crooks are out there stealing the identities of kids—who often don’t learn about this until it’s time to apply for a college loan or a loan for their first car.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. 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.

The Password Reset Isn’t How to Remember a Password

Consider a keychain for a moment. For most of us, a keychain holds all of our necessities such as home keys, car keys, work keys and even forgotten keys, that we aren’t quite sure what to do with. Now, think about this. What if your keychain had keys that look identical, but each key only opens one door.

5DIf you are like most people, this key scenario is almost identical to the way you treat your account passwords online. What happens when you want to use a key, but you don’t know which one goes with which door? It can be very easy to forget and identify the key to the door or the password to the website.

What do you do in this situation? You probably wouldn’t have a friend that had a key to your home, and you certainly don’t want to break down the door. Should you call a locksmith every time you forget which key works? This sounds ridiculous, right? Well, it is no different than using the password reset feature when it comes to forgetting the password on a website. Instead, step up your password game.

Don’t Change Your Password Every Time You Forget It

You wouldn’t want to call a locksmith every time you lock yourself out of the house, and you should not rely on a password reset feature every time you forget your password.

  • If you have a number of accounts and don’t want the hassle of creating strong, long passwords, consider a password manager.
  • These services will help you to create a strong, secure password for every website you frequent, plus you will have a single master password, that allows you to manage it all.
  • A password manager eliminates having to reset a password.

Create the Best Password for Your Online Accounts

When it comes to creating the best password for any online account, According to Bill Carey, VP Marketing for the RoboForm Password Manager “It’s not a matter of if your password will be leaked, it’s a matter of when.  So protect yourself by using a strong and unique password for every website.”

  • Passwords must be a minimum of eight characters long, and they should include mismatched numbers, characters and letters.
  • The best passwords do not spell any words.
  • Use a password for each account, especially if using high-value websites such as banking sites.
  • Make sure to change your passwords regularly.

Robert Siciliano is a personal privacy, security and identity theft expert to RoboForm discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

Home Security App/Camera witnesses two Burglars

Danny Wheeler was alerted by his smartphone that had a home security app and a do it yourself camera/home security system that his home was being robbed. He was at work and could do nothing but send the real time video to New York City police, reports a story on The burglars got away, however, by the time the place was swarming with police.

ANG3Such an application and system can allow the user to remotely access all the “goings-on” and in some case set off a loud alarm. Even if you have the most elaborate home security system, having one of these smartphone-alerting systems will add an extra layer of protection, and for sure, result in capture of thieves who are less quick at getting away.

These systems should be adjuncts to a full security system, as they don’t have round the clock monitoring and don’t directly contact police. And even though Wheeler’s thieves got away, their images have been retained for possible identification.

Wheeler posted the video on social media, reports an article on An intruder is seen entering via a window, and then a second man enters through another window. The men spent only about a minute rummaging through the home, exiting just before an alarm sounded.

There are over 15,000 views so far. Someone is bound to be able to identify the burglars.

Wheeler regrets calling the police before remotely triggering the house alarm. Had he set off the alarm the moment he realized what was happening, it’s possible that his J. Crew silver bracelet would not have been stolen from his bedroom.

Possessing one of these systems, as mentioned, adds a layer of security. The Angee home security system, see them on Kickstarter, is the only one with a video camera that rotates 360 degrees as it detects motion. And this high definition camera has smart zones; you can set up specific zones for monitoring. But Angee is more than just a video surveillance setup. It’s a self-monitored home security system.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist to Angee. Learn more about Angee in this Video. Support Angee on Kickstarter. See Disclosures.

Beware of these 10 Job Hunting Scams

Just because a job recruiter says he’s from (fill in blank—any huge corporation) doesn’t mean the job can’t be a scam. Anyone could say they’re from Microsoft or Google. Impersonating a representative from a big-name company is one way to fool gullible job seekers.

9DAnother way is to advertise the scam jobs on radio because the scammer knows that listeners will think, “It has to be legit if it’s on the radio.” Scammers will post their job ads anywhere.

An article on lists the following signs of a fraudulent job advertisement:

  • There are plenty of totally legitimate jobs that involve money out of your pocket. And in some cases, this may be described as an application fee, reference check fee, background check, cost of training materials or anything else. Only pay when the site itself has been vetted by you and everyone else. Do your research!
  • The ad talks of “previously undisclosed” federal government positions. The scammer is banking that you have no idea that lists all federal job openings to the public.
  • They want your bank account or credit card information. Be very aware.

Similarly, scammers may prey on people seeking a job placement service. The names the following red flags:

  1. Fictitious jobs are promoted.
  2. Payment is made but no job materializes—and the service suddenly falls off the radar.
  3. If the ad mentions a company, contact that company to verify they’re contracted with the job placement service before you make your next move.
  4. Never make major decisions without first getting everything in writing: cost, what it gets you, etc.
  5. Ask them what happens if they can’t place you in a compatible position. Then listen good. If the response doesn’t make sense or is vague, move on. If they assure you you’ll get a refund within a certain period of time, make sure this is in writing.
  6. But if you decide to go with them, read your contract word for word. If they show impatience with this, it’s a red flag.
  7. Beware of ads that sound like job openings, but actually are just worded to sound that way. These semi-scammers want you to pay them to give you information you can easily find online. A classic example is an ad for writing jobs. It’s worded to sound like the ad placer can connect you with clients—whom they are working for—who need a writer. Instead you’ll be paying for a list of freelance markets, such as some boating magazine seeking submissions—when you specialize in a completely unrelated niche.
  8. Make sure you know precisely what you’re getting into. Are you seeking help with job placement or looking for someone to construct your resume?
  9. See what the BBB says about the company and what a Google search pulls up.
  10. Just because you have to pay doesn’t mean it’s a scam. However…ask yourself why you need to pay someone thousands of dollars to find you a job, what with all the online (and legitimate) job postings and the ability to blast out hundreds of e-mail queries in just a few days with your resume attached?

By keeping your scam radar on high during a job search, job seekers can prevent their personal information and financial data pout of the hands of criminals.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. 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.