Home Fire Safety: National Pet Fire Safety Day

Did you know that your dog, cat or bird might be responsible for burning down your house? I didn’t even know they know how to light a match? I’m definitely not letting my dog smoke in bed. Seriously, this is a statistic put out by the National Fire Protection Association and they would know.

Lamps: Here how it might happen, and it makes sense: You leave a lamp on, and your cat starts playing with the lamp cord or even the lamp shade if it has those little fabric bally things on it. Next thing you know the lamp falls down on the carpet, the light breaks and causes some sparks to fly on the rug. Poof…there’s your home fire.

Candles: Worse, humans might be partly at fault if they leave an unattended candle out. A cat, dog or bird can easily knock over a candle causing a fire. For your pet safety, be sure candles are in secure holders on a hard surface. Candles are just the worst anyway, get rid of them. Sorry. They’re messy too and they ruin your paint.

Stoves: Cats climb all over stuff which is why there are no cats in my house. I mean, litter box then your bed? Anyway, a cat climbing on your stove is likely to turn a stove knob, which if electric will fry the cat, but if gas will blow up the house. Remove the knobs from the stove.

Electric heaters: Animals running around the house can knock over a space heater. Once on its face can burn things. Most electric heaters today have some form of heat sensor that shuts it down. Make sure that’s the case and toss old ones that don’t.

Grilling Safety Tips for the Summer

The warm weather brings pretty flowers, green grass, and the aroma of barbeque. I consider myself a relative expert on the barbeque part as I smoke the equivalent of an entire cow and a few pigs each summer.  If you understand what a “smoke ring” is and hickory, cherry, apple and oak woods are your best friends then you know what I’m talking about.

Most people prefer the fall off the bone pork baby-back ribs but I’m a bigger fan of beef ribs and short ribs. And NO barbeque sauce, trust me on this.

http://www.homesecuritysource.com/WorkArea/edit.aspx Anyway grilling is a great way to bring the family and friends together but it can also results in burning down your house too. So the National Fire Protection Association wants you to pay attention to what you are doing and make sure you adhere to the following fire safety tips.

Grilling Safety Tips

Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

Never leave your grill unattended.

Charcoal grills

There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.

If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department or use the fire alarm call box. Do not move the grill.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing ADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

Internet Fraud: Beware of Fake Diplomas When Hiring

Entire colleges websites are being copied and replicated, but with fictitious names and then providing fake college diplomas. In one instance The Wall Street Journal reports, “the site is part of a scheme to collect application fees from prospective students.” Presumably, scammers could simply collect a fee and then issue a rejection letter several weeks later and in some situation offer fake degrees.

Spoofed websites are generally created in order to phish for consumers’ personal information, or to accept credit card payments for products or services that will never be delivered.

In the case of the nonexistent University of Redwood, it’s entirely possible the website served as the front for a diploma mill.

Diploma mills were born alongside legitimate, accredited online universities. Diploma mills issue degrees that can be used to fraudulently obtain employment, promotions, raises, or bonuses. They can also be used as fake identification, to gain employment under an invented name, impersonate a licensed professional, or use fake documents to obtain a genuine ID with fraudulent information.

Diploma mills model themselves after accredited institutions, right down to the .edu web address. They may even incorporate part of an existing university’s name or logo into their own, or mimic an Ivy League school’s color scheme or website design.

Just like a legitimate school, a diploma mill may actually require students to purchase books, do homework, and take tests. Unlike a legitimate school, the diploma school may make passing a foregone conclusion. In many cases, students can simply purchase a diploma, no questions asked. Many of these organizations are nothing more than glorified print shops.

For your business development purposes, do your research before hiring. There are websites that publicly expose diploma mills, and the U.S. Department of Education recommends that you consult their database as well as additional sources of qualitative information.

Mobile Security App Surpasses 1 Million Downloads on Google Play

If you told me 10 years ago that mobile phone security was going to be a huge issue I would have told you to put down your cocktail and give me your keys. Back then all we had was feature phones or “dumb phones” and your phone was high tech if it had games on it or you could get pictures via text message.

Of course, today we have smartphones and the actual phone function is just one of many features. Today’s mobile devices are high-powered mini personal computers that have most, if not all and many more of the capabilities of a desktop computer.

So I eat crow when I tell you that McAfee Mobile Security was the first mobile security app to combine antivirus, anti-theft, web and app protection and call/text filtering. It also recently surpassed one million downloads on Google Play.

The Android operating system is the most popular target for writers of mobile malware—including text-sending malware, mobile botnets, spyware, and destructive Trojans.  In fact, Android apps can ask for over 100 different types of permissions—and these apps could be invading your privacy and exposing your personal life.

McAfee Mobile Security provides Android smartphone and tablet owners with additional privacy features that help them ensure apps are not accessing their personal information without their knowledge. The app protection feature gives consumers access to an added layer of protection to preserve their privacy and protection against financial fraud, identity theft and viruses. It also checks against a URL reputation database, part of McAfee’s Global Threat Intelligence network, and reports the apps that are associated with and/or may be sending personal data to risky sites, such as adware and spyware networks.

To protect your personal information, finances and privacy from being exposed through apps:

Research apps and their publishers thoroughly and check the ratings before installing.

Purchase apps from a well-known reputable app store market

Watch for permissions (stay away from installing apps that don’t look right)

Install comprehensive mobile security on your mobile device

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)

Small Business Owners: Customer Appreciation Day is July 21

Do you know your customers? This is a day that happens just once a quarter to put emphasis on getting to know your customers or clients. Shep Hyken, Hall of Fame Speaker – New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author is the creator of “Get To Know Your Customers’ Day”, and he’s a funny guy to boot. He’s the only guy I know that actually has a full head of hair but chooses to shave his head bald!

Shep says “This is a simple concept.  Pick up the phone and call a customer you haven’t talked to in a while or don’t know that well.  Take someone to lunch.  Set up a few meetings.  Have a cocktail reception for a few of your customers. Don’t make this one too big or you lose the personal contact and impact you are trying to achieve.”

In terms of business development opportunities, that sounds easy enough.

Your goal to take dedicated time to build a stronger relationship with a few of your customers.

Small Business Tips:

Meet with or call on customers that aren’t already your best customers. These are customers that you would like to raise to the “next level.”  This is customer appreciation day!

Consider doing this more often than just once a quarter.  Why not make a special effort once or twice a month?  How about once a week?

Many of the people I meet say they already do this – on a daily basis.  So, make these days have extra effort that you don’t normally put forth on a daily basis.

*Content expressed in Security For Small Business does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.

Preventing Slip and Fall Scams in your Business

In a down economy people are acting strangely. Desperation makes people do desperate things and insurance fraud is on the rise.

The Middletown Journal reports  “Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injury to customers and employees, and liability awards for customers who are injured can be tens of thousands of dollars or more, according to insurers. Nationwide, about 2,168 insurance claims last year were submitted to the National Insurance Crime Bureau for referral because they were questionable, according to the organization. This was up 12 percent from 1,944 questionable claims in 2010.”

While most slip and falls are legitimate claims, slip and falls accidents are an old scam that can be lucrative for a professional scammer.

One of the most effective tools to combat slip and falls is video surveillance. Video is the single most effective teller of the truth.

Cameras are everywhere. Some people call this an invasion of privacy. I say the more cameras the better. We are on camera at most retails stores, banks, ATMs, busy intersections, highways, downtown areas and in neighborhoods. We are a video camera soaked society and it’s a good thing. It keeps the honest people honest and the bad guys in-check or in jail.

The good news for small business is cameras are now affordable than ever. Peace of mind comes from knowing there are security cameras strategically placed inside and outside your business. Best of all, with security camera systems, you can watch video from any room in the facility, on any connected TV or dedicated monitor. And when you’re on-the-go, keep an eye on your business with remote video security using any web-enabled computer, smart phone, or iPad.

*Content expressed in Security For Small Business does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.

Remote Monitoring for Your Business

Remote security systems like ADT Pulse™ and ADT Pulse™ for Business allow homeowners or operators of a business to control a building’s key functions without even having to be present.

Did you know from almost anywhere you can easily arm and disarm your alarm system, giving added security when you can’t be there to lock up? What’s cool is you can view events in multiple areas of your facility, have greater control over loss, and oversee your business from almost anywhere.

For example if somebody leaves the coffee maker on, you can shut it off from your mobile. If the AC is set on high you can lower it. You can control these settings when you’re not in the office.

Whether away on business or across town at home, you can receive email & text alerts on your mobile or tablet regarding your business and system.

The Chicago Tribune reports “For those who are techno-phobic or just don’t know where to begin, at no obligation, ADT’s team of small business security specialists can assess what security system or service is right for their business, and layout a plan. During the system is installation, there is hands-on training and 24/7 customer support that will dispatch a technician if necessary.”

It has no less than 5 ways to turn it on and off including a wired keypad, iPhone app, Touch pad, computer and remote control on the keychain for deactivating before the garage door goes up. The touch pads sit in bedrooms/office/kitchen and has a live video feed tuned into anywhere you want. There’s also a big green or red icon on the touch pad letting you know if it’s set or not. The touchpad definitely give you more control with, than without. It allows very simple setting of the alarm so it’s mostly always on and you know it which reduces false alarms.

What I like most is the remote security cameras. No matter where in the world you are, with remote video monitoringyour business is only a click away.

Geo-tagging: Is Your Smartphone Revealing Your Location?

Location-based services utilize geo-location information tied to your phones GPS and in some cases your carriers connection and even WiFi

Geo-location or geo-tagging can be used on PCs, but is primarily applicable to mobile phones. The geo-location software usually obtains its data from your device’s Internet protocol (IP) address or your global positioning System (GPS) longitude and latitude. Many of today’s social networking sites are now incorporating location-based services that allow users to broadcast their locations via smartphone.

This technology can be useful to predators, thieves, and other criminals, since it makes it so simple to determine where you are, and where you are not.

The BBC reports in Australia masked men, armed with a knife and a club, struck the home of a 17-year-old girl’s mother hours after a teenager posted a photo on Facebook of a large sum of cash. It is not clear how the robbers found the family address. The Facebook image was at the grandmother’s Sydney house.

Someone who is paying unwanted attention to you can see your exact address each time you post a geo-tagged photo and check in.

Thieves use geo-location to determine whether you are home or not, and then use that data to plan a burglary.

To prevent home burglary and protect yourself from broadcasting your location, you should:

Turn off your location services on your mobile phone or only leave it enabled for applications like maps. Most geo-location services are turned on by default.

Be careful on what images and information you are sharing on social networks and when. For example, it’s best to wait until you are home to upload those vacation photos.

Make sure you check your privacy settings on your social networking sites that you’re sharing information on to make sure you are only sharing information with your friends and not everyone.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

Summer home security tips before traveling

As you pack your car for your next road trip, realize someone’s probably watching.

Burglars watch. They look for signs you are traveling. They look for outside lights on 24 hours a day. They look for dark homes inside at nighttime. They look for no car in the driveway, mail and newspapers piled up or uncut grass that’s three weeks overgrown.  And they look to see you packing your car before a trip. A bad neighbor or his bad seed of a kid may be peering through their windows when you pack. That kid may end up in your house hours after you leave.

Contrary to what some might suggest, I’ve never thought it was a good idea to place your name on a “stop mail” list at the post office. Because some crack head postal employee now has a list of opportunities.

It’s the same thing with stopping delivery of your newspaper. Once you are on that list, it is known you are away.

The best case scenario for both issues is to have a trusted friend, family member or neighbor grab your mail and newspaper for you.

Never list your vacation plans on social media. The last thing you need to be doing on Facebook is telling the world you are 2000 miles away.

Here are a few home security tips to help protect your home while you are on vacation:

Pack your car in your garage or late at night under the cover of darkness.

Use timers on indoor and outdoor lights.

Let a trusted neighbor and the police know you are traveling.

Unplug garage door openers.

Have a neighbor park their car in your driveway.

Have a landscaper mow your lawn.

Don’t share your travel plans on social media or on a voicemail outgoing message.

Lock everything of significant value in a safe.

Invest in a home security camera system and home security alarm system.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

Access Control for Small Business Owners

Knowing who enters and exits your business at all times of the day give the business owner greater control. Having the ability to limit unauthorized entry to your business to certain employees, ex-employees at different times of the day are just a few of the benefits of access control systems.

Knowing you can help to protect your employees and business against damage, theft, or potential harm may be a benefit you can’t put a price tag on. Whether your business has only one way access or multiple entry points, access control security systems are scalable and can be customized to fit your business and security needs.

ADT Access Guard

Security access control allows you to limit employee access, manage schedules, and know who’s going where and when. It’s a quick and easy way to help you limit the access to high-risk or sensitive areas of your business.

Public Mode

For gate, vestibule and other low-security access areas.

No limit to the number of cards the reader can recognize.

Private mode

For higher security areas such as:

Cash rooms.

High-security storage.

Server rooms.

Employee access is given to only one user at a time.

ADT Select Entry

The power of complete access control is at your fingertips. Simply point and click a mouse. That’s all it takes for ADT® SelectSM Entry to provide your small business with a robust access control solution.

Allows you to limit access to high-risk or sensitive areas.

Helps reduce employee and vendor theft.

Helps improve incident awareness and response.

Helps enhance risk management.

Limit access to restricted areas, allow or restrict the access with different user levels or by time frames,  internal communications and monitor external areas.

Intercom Entry

Intercom systems help you safely identify visitors before they get inside. ADT® Intercom Entry Systems are simple, sophisticated security systems that provide a centrally controlled access for your small businesses.

Visually and/or audibly identifies who is at the door.

Helps restrict and manage business access.

Increases employee safety.

Helps you protect entrances, secure parking lot doors, control internal communications and monitor external areas.

If your business is simply under lock and key, then you are in the dark ages and will soon be a burglary statistic. Check out the above access control systems and get educated on all these time and money saving options to secure your business.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussingADT Pulse on Fox News Live. Disclosures