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Securing Your Home’s Door: Secrets Your Locksmith Won’t Tell You

Are you making a big home security mistake? If you are leaving your doors unlocked, or if you are using low quality lock systems, you are putting yourself…and your home…at risk.

However, just because your door is locked, it doesn’t mean that a burglar can’t kick the door down. But, having the door locked can make it more difficult. This is only one secret that your local locksmith won’t tell you, but there are several more. Here are a few:

Securing Your Doors

  • Reinforce the door frame around the hinge and lock. Consider door reinforcement kits, such as Door Devil.
  • Install a peephole.
  • Don’t answer the door unless you are expecting a visitor. Tell the same to your kids.
  • Install hardened steel deadbolts. These are highly encouraged. Make sure they have a five-pin tumbler, too.
  • Consider multi-lock deadbolts or vertical deadbolts.

Accessories for Your Door to Make it More Secure

  • Consider a door brace. These will help to prevent a burglar from opening the door.
  • A wedge or door stop will likely not totally stop a burglar, but if you choose one with an alarm, anyone in the home will definitely hear it.
  • A door chain will not protect you. It doesn’t take a lot of pressure to break them.

Additional Tips for Door Security

  • Replace your hollow wood door with a metal or solid wood door.
  • Choose a door that does NOT have a window. An intruder can easily break a window and access the lock.
  • If you have a current door that DOES have a window, install attractive metal bars over the glass.
  • Make sure the hinges of the door are not visible on the outside of the door.
  • Consider installing a cross bar. This is a heavy steel bar that you can place across the inside of the door.
  • Inspect deadbolts. Any deadbolt that is low quality should be replaced. If you want to have even more security, install a second deadbolt.
  • Use door braces when you can. Take one of these braces and stick it under the knob of the door. The other end will remain on the floor at an angle to the doorknob. These are great devices, but too many people forget to put the brace up before they go to bed or leave the home. It is useless if it is just leaning against the wall, and it only takes a couple of seconds to put into place.
  • For the best door security, think about installing some type of door reinforcement kit. Imagine how secure your door would be with 1/16-inch of heavy steel. No one could kick through that! Also, imagine a four-foot metal bar that you install right over the strike plates and screw directly into the frame of the door. This will give you one tough security system on your door, and it’s exactly what the door jamb security kit from Door Devil offers. See here on YouTube.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com. Disclosures.

7 Ways to Prevent Getting Locked Out of Your Home

Be honest. Do you have a key to your house under your doormat or a flowerpot? If you do, you might as well put a sign out that says “Come rob me.” This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a key somewhere, though. After all, you might need it one of these days. However, there are better places to hide your house key:

  • In a Lockbox – A key lockbox is a good idea. These have a combination that you will need to get into it, but, of course, you have to remember that combination.
  • In Your Car – You also might consider leaving an extra house key in your car. The glove compartment or under a floor mat are good options. Even if someone breaks in, they aren’t going to be looking for a house key.
  • In a Fake Rock – You can also use a fake tock to hide your house key, as long as it looks like a real rock, and as long as it blends in. If the fake rock stands out like a sore thumb, it’s not one that you should use.
  • Under the Siding – Hiding the house key under your siding is another method to consider. Tie thin wire or strong string to the key, and then push the key under the siding so that only the string hangs out. When you need it, simply pull the string.
  • At Another Home – Do you have neighbors that you trust? If so, consider hiding the key at their house, and then offer to allow them to hide their key at yours. Even if their key is discovered, it won’t work in your locks.
  • Upgrade to an Automatic Garage Door – If you can access your home through the garage door, consider a keypad for the garage. Then, you can simply use a code to open it. Just be cautious that you aren’t sharing the code with anyone and everyone.
  • Ditch Your House Key – Finally, consider upgrading your locks to a key-coded lock. These programs can be programed at anytime and anywhere, and they aren’t super expensive. The simplest locks are about $35, and go up to a couple of hundred, depending on the features. This will definitely solve all of your house key problems.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker 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.

Busting Down the Door: 12 Ways to Stop Burglars from Entering Your Home

There is no such thing as a home that is fully burglar-proof, but there is also no such thing as burglars who have the skills of Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible. With the right security in place, you can get your home almost burglar-proof.

When most people think of security, they only think of a few devices, and though they are great to have, they don’t protect you fully. Yes, you might have fake looking cameras that deter thieves, but what about those who try to get in anyway. Kicking the door in, which is an easy way a criminal gets into a locked home, can still be done. The only thing separating a burglar from getting in through a locked door is half inch pine molding. A 12 year old boy can kick in a door easy enough. You need to beef up your doors.

Here are some door reinforcement devices that can help:

  • Deadbolt/door knob wraps – these strengthen the immediate area around the lock
  • Door bar jammer – fits snuggly under the doorknob
  • Door brace – device that makes it more difficult to kick a door down
  • Door frame reinforcement – installed on the door jamb and made of steel

You can also use commercial kits like the Door Devil. This is a kit that contains a device made of heavy steel. It is installed over the door jamb, and is screwed directly into the frame. The system is easy to install, and it will add another level of protection to your home. When you combine this with other types of security, such as motion detection lights, surveillance cameras, and a security system, it will be very difficult for burglars to enter.

Here are some more general tips to keep your home more secure than ever before:

  1. Always keep your doors locked. Keep them locked when you are home and even during the day.
  2. Always keep your windows locked. This includes those on the second floor. A burglar can certainly climb.
  3. Keep the blinds and curtains closed. This helps to ensure that no one can look into your home to check out your valuables.
  4. Use top-flight locks and door reinforcements.
  5. Install security films on your windows. These will help to give the panes strength and will prevent penetrating objects from coming in, such as crow bars and baseball bats.
  6. Collect your mail and newspapers as soon as possible when they arrive.
  7. Give your home that ‘lived-in’ look with a system for home automation turning lights on and off.
  8. Place men’s work boots at the front or back door and make sure they look worn and scuffed. If you park your car out in the drive, place men’s gloves on the dash. If burglars see this, they will think twice as they will believe there is a large man in the home.
  9. Place a large dog bowl by the door, and make sure to make it look realistic. Add chewed up dog toys or a leash to the area, too.
  10. Make sure to trim shrubs that are hiding home entry points.
  11. Go to Google News. Type in your city and state along with the phrase “door kicked in.” You will likely be shocked by what you find. This will be more motivation to protect yourself.
  12. Make the investment into a beefy home security system. The best systems offer full alarm and police station monitoring along with cameras providing a clear view of what is happening in your home when you aren’t there. You can watch right on your mobile device.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video

Home Door Kick-in Prevention

Burglars love doors, because that’s their No. 1 way of gaining entry to a house. When thinking of ways to make your home safer, you should really home in on your doors.

  • Solid wood door without a window (ideally with solid wood core)
  • Top flight deadbolt (ideally two)
  • Reinforced frame and doorjamb

1BThe above elements would make it almost impossible for an MMA fighter to kick the door in. Yes, you should be thinking in terms of kick-proofing your door. By the time we’re 18, we’ve probably witnessed hundreds of door kick-ins on TV shows and in movies. No matter how many unrealistic things we’ve seen on film, one thing stands out as being very true to life: the ease of kicking in a door.

If the door has a window, we have a problem. A crook could smash through it and unlock the door. Here is where a second deadbolt, near floor level, comes in handy. If this can’t be done, then have decorative steel bars placed over the window.

A metal door is also doable for good security, as long as its interior is reinforced and it has a lockblock.

Keep in mind that even a steel door (the most secure type) can be kicked in if the lock’s screws are too short. You get what you pay for; do not cut corners when it comes to purchasing a deadbolt. They are not all the same. A good one extends deep into the doorframe.

I also recommend a one-sided keyless deadbolt for use when you’re home. As its name implies, it can’t be manipulated from the outside (which makes it impossible for an intruder to circumvent).

The doorjamb and frame should be as strong as possible. Don’t just rely on a good deadbolt. The strike plate’s screws should be three inches. Install door reinforcement technology. This beefs up the door jamb to prevent kick-ins. See Door Devil.

What about sliding doors?

  • The glass should be reinforced or replaced with polycarbonate.
  • The track should have a bar to prevent the door from being forced open.
  • Track stoppers also come in the form of small devices that screw onto the track and block the door.
  • The door should be equipped with a motion and vibration sensor that triggers an alarm.

Keep a covering over the windows as much as possible. I understand that you want your home to be bright and cheery, but find a happy medium by realizing that a burglar can get a really good look inside your house through uncovered sliding doors. For sure, keep the curtains drawn or the shades down when it’s dark out.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

Strengthen your Entry way Security

Did you know that often, burglars gain entry by simply kicking open locked doors? You just would not believe how easy this is. This is why it’s crucial to beef up the strength of your house’s doors. And this can be done several ways.

2BDeadbolt Strike Plate

  • It’s ironic that this piece of hardware is called a strike plate, because an inferior type can be struck by the burglar’s foot and blasted apart.
  • The strike plate is that metal piece that’s on the door frame, where the deadbolt latches into.
  • A low grade strike plate serves the purpose of holding the door shut. Period. It’s no match for a burglar’s foot.
  • In addition to a sturdier strike plate, you need a full metal enclosure and longer screws. The burglar will then worry about breaking his ankle as he continues to try to budge this hardware—which is possible, if he’s persistent, has a decent kick and doesn’t tire easily.

Door and Door Jamb

  • So to stop a persistent burglar who doesn’t mind repeatedly kicking, you must reinforce the door and door jamb.
  • Sturdy door reinforcement can be found at Door Devil.

Solid Wood or Metal Doors

  • A hollow wood construction has no place in an exterior door.
  • A solid wood door would ideally be made of a hardwood variety. It’s not cheap, but it will buy you peace of mind.
  • A steel door is even more secure.
  • The ultimate door may be a hurricane-resistant steel door.

Hinges

  • Burglars have been known to remove the hinge pins and lift the door up and out of the frame.
  • A door that swings out and exposes the hinges is not secure.
  • Safety studs, crimped pins and a setscrew in the hinge will prevent a burglar from removing the hinge pin.

Still More…

  • A door that’s highlighted with a motion detecting light (out of reach from an adult) will help deter intruders.
  • A fake surveillance camera (again, out of reach) is an effective deterrent.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

Home Security Cameras 101: the Audio Element

Before buying a security camera, ask yourself:

  • Where do you intend on placing it?
  • How well-hidden can/will the unit be?
  • Are you familiar with laws pertaining to surveillance of people without them knowing about it and the associated audio recordings?

1HLaws vary from state to state regarding the audio element of a surveillance camera, but on a federal level, the requirement is that one person needs to be aware of the recording. Because this is the federal law, it makes it impossible for any state to allow zero people being aware.

So what this means is that it’s illegal to audio record in the form of eavesdropping. It’s prohibited, for instance, to secretly record a conversation that two people, without them being aware, are having across the room at a coffee house that you’re all in.

However, that federal rule that one person needs to be aware of the recording means that you can get away with “secretly” recording those two people—as long as you’re part of their conversation, sitting right with them. So if those two people learn you recorded them, they can gripe all they want, but you’re protected by federal law since you sat and talked with them.

The law for audio recording isn’t the same as for visual, in which the latter is allowable for publically seen environments. This is where “Dual Consent” comes into play for ANY audio recording. Some states require both parties need to consent to audio recording in order for the recording to commence.

These rules apply to phone conversations as well as cameras, which is why you often get an alert that your customer service call “may be recorded for training purposes.”

Loopholes

  • If one of those two people is informed you’re recording them, then all is well, though once at least one of them knows this, it’s sure to influence the conversation (unless it’s dual consent state).
  • What seems to be a contradiction of that aforementioned federal rule is that you CAN secretly record those two people—provided that you don’t intend to use the recording for any illegal purposes (unless it’s dual consent state).
  • So it looks as though you can secretly record a conversation between your wife and the man she’s cheating on you with, then present it to her later as evidence you caught her. Nothing illegal about that (unless it’s dual consent state).
  • But if you covertly record your boss conversing with his secret mistress, then threaten you’ll give the recording to his wife unless he gives you a $1,000 bonus, then that’s illegal.
  • This is NOT legal advice. Consult your attorney and local laws.

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

Should you take active Shooter Training?

Gunman Storms Building, Shot Dead by Receptionist

Wouldn’t it be great to see a headline like this for once? More than ever, employees are being trained to react tactically should a gunman go on a rampage.

2BThere has to be a better way, for instance, to protect children in a classroom than the teacher diving between them and the bullets and getting killed. Being hailed a hero is no consolation to the family he or she leaves behind.

In Boston, active shooter training is taking place, says an article at myfoxboston.com. Todd McGhee, a former state trooper, is the instructor. He charges $150 per person for an hour. May sound like a lot, but think of all the ways someone can mindlessly drop $150 over one weekend.

Active shooter training is also offered by some private firms in most metropolitan areas. It’s catching on in this day and cyber-age when every public gunning incident seems to get news.

In a real life scenario, the victim has maybe less than two seconds to make a life altering decision: bolt, dive out a window, hide, put their body between the gunman and children (and often, this results in death), rushing the gunman, playing dead once the bullets start flying (this has actually worked), and who knows what else—like whipping a pistol out of your pocket and shooting back. Reasoning with the gunman has also worked, but these are truly exceptional cases.

In a workplace setting, often the gunman is a former employee. The grievance he has may be towards his boss or someone there he was dating or wanted to date but was rejected.

The myfoxboston.com article notes some risk factors for deviantly violent behavior including divorce, loss of the job, financial woes, being bullied and experiencing child custody issues. However…it stands to reason that anyone who’d bulldoze into a business or public setting and start shooting has at least several of these problems.

Though issues such as being passed up for a promotion, ridicule by coworkers, being recently fired and other workplace problems normally don’t turn employees into killers, these situations are a common thread among such gunmen.

Sometimes the most meek employee turns out to be the shooter, and employees need to learn how to respond with tactics, strategy and proven methods rather than with panic and screams.

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

Remove your Home from Google maps

If it unsettles you to see your home displayed on Google Maps, there’s something you can do about this. Why might this be a concern? Information is “intelligence”. Information to some is power. The logistics of your home may empower certain people, like burglars. Example; if you’re in a residentially cluttered area vs. a remote area with nearby woods, these details can mean something to a would-be intruder.

3BIn additional to aerial shots, did you know that Google Maps also shows street level views? Uh ohhh…Ya. That can include cars parked outside, people, etc.

Visit Google Maps and type in your address. In the lower left of the screen you will see a thumbnail image called “Satellite.” Click to reveal the satellite image of your area, and see if your street is in view. Look for your dwelling.

How do these images get into the Google Maps system in the first place? Someone from Google actually drives around in a funky car with a crazy 360’ camera strapped to it taking photos. The camera doesn’t discriminate if your young daughters just happen to be sunbathing in the yard at that time.

Play around with the site’s interactive features to see just how much about your home a snooping stranger could learn. The Google Maps site allows zoom-ins that can pick up pretty clear views of what’s inside your garage (if it was opened the day the Google driver was taking pictures) or inside your home (yes, the images are that close-up).

Note, however, that the license plates of vehicles are blurred out. Google claims they also blur out people, but this tactic doesn’t always work, as at least one person claims he saw his license plate very clearly.

We can’t delete our address from Google Maps. But we can get this behemoth to blur out your house.

  • Locate your property to street view level.
  • In the bottom right-hand corner, click the icon called “Report a problem.”
  • This will take you to “Report inappropriate street view.”
  • Tweak the page to get your home inside the red box and fill out the form.
  • Type the verification code and submit.
  • Wait a few days then check to see if your home is blurred out.

You can even make requests for specific things to be blurred, like the $3,000 water fountain in your front yard.

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

Xfinity Home Security Flawed

Bad news for users of the Xfinity home security system: It can report locked doors and windows that have been bypassed by an intruder and miss an intruder’s movements, says an article on wired.com.

3HThe intruder circumvents the system by using a radio jammer to block the 2.4 GHz radiofrequency band of the alarm system. The system won’t detect this as an anomaly, “thinking” that the doors and windows are still locked.

It gets worse. Suppose the thief ends the jamming and leaves with his loot. Then a second, unrelated intruder breaks in. He may go undetected and no alarms will go off, no remote alerts to the homeowner, because it may take the system’s sensors up to three hours to return to a functioning mode.

An Xfinity sign that’s on the property is a welcome mat to thieves who know how to circumvent the system. And the homeowner will never know anything happened until they return and see the place was ransacked. A surveillance camera, of course, will show the intrusion—unless the radiofrequency band of the camera was the same as the system and hence also jammed.

Radio jamming equipment can be constructed by anyone with half a brain about electronics.

Why can’t this system detect that anything went awry? And why does it take up to three hours for the sensors to regroup? Sounds like a lot of stuff is wrong with this system.

It’s not truly known if Comcast plans on remedying these flaws. Rapid7 security researchers contacted Comcast but have not received a reply, continues the wired.com article. Comcast has also ignored contact from WIRED and from CERT, a cybersecurity research entity.

Interestingly, once the wired.com article was posted, Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas issued a statement inferring that these flaws exist in any home security system. However, it has not been confirmed that these flaws are inherent in wireless home security systems in general.

So will Comcast patch up the flaw? Douglas’s response to WIRED was rather evasive, again stating that it was an “industry issue,” and that he’s not even sure that a “simple patch” is even the solution.

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

Set up Family’s Controls on Home Computers

The computers in your household should have controls on them for security—even if you don’t have children living with you.

3HChrome OS

  • On the Chrome browser in the upper right are three horizontal lines; click this symbol.
  • Click “Add supervised user.”
  • Enter the name and password for the new account.
  • This allows the other family member to access their account using the Chrome OS. Just set the controls for that person via the www.google.com/settings/chrome/manage.
  • You will be able to see the sites that the family member visits, and needless to say, you can block the ones you don’t want that individual accessing. The caveat is that it does not permit bulk blocking; so if you want to block five sites, you must set the block up one at a time for each site.
  • The plus side is that this system allows a user access to your Chromebook.

Windows 10

  • Go to account.microsoft.com/family and sign in.
  • Enter the e-mail address of other family members.
  • Or, set up a new one for them.
  • Click the “invite” link.
  • The family member(s) will appear on the family list. You now can set controls.
  • Controls can apply to apps, games, visiting particular websites and even the time of computer use.
  • This feature includes additional controls like seeing the online activity of the other family member(s).

OS X

  • Click Users & Groups in System Preferences.
  • See the lock icon? With your password, unlock it.
  • Click the “plus” symbol located under the user list.
  • You’ll see Managed with Parental Controls. Take it from there to have the new account added to the Mac’s master list.

There are lots of options for customizing the kind of control you want. Take your time reviewing all of the things you can set controls on.

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