How to Be Sure Your Home is Safe When You’re Away

15 May

Home security is important to all of us. To that end, people are investing more than ever before in alarm systems, CCTV, and even mobile apps that allow us to keep an eye on things while we are away, be that at work for the day, on an extended business trip, or a vacation to some far flung corner of the globe.

Although it is sometimes good, perhaps even the objective when we take a vacation, to forget about what is going on at home, it can be difficult to do so when you have invested a lot of money into buying and decorating it as you want, not to mention embellishing the interior with some great appliances.
What are the steps you can take to ensure you keep your home safe, and even keep an eye on it yourself, while you are travelling abroad?

Talk to the Alarm Company

This is the easiest way to ensure your home is safe, and you will be able to keep updated without actually looking at your home ‘in the flesh.’

Simply speak to your alarm monitoring company – if you do not have round the clock monitoring, it is worth upgrading, even for a short time – and inform them you will not be home for a specified amount of time. This will mean they can immediately investigate any unexpected activations and send the relevant authorities to your home.

If you are travelling away and leaving older children or an elderly relative at home, you can arrange for them to send a text message or email summarizing activity, so you know when people have got home or left the house, for example. Some alarm companies will even call a specified person to check they are okay, so say you have a daughter who works evenings and you normally collect her from work, and she is expected to be home at 10pm, if she is not, the company can call her to check she is okay.

Use Dropcam or a Similar Product

Dropcam is one of the leading products and applications when it comes to home security, but there are many similar ones on the market should you wish to explore the possibilities. Dropcam is a two-part surveillance tool.

First, you set the camera up wherever you want to in the house. There is a motion-activated option, so it is perfect for travelling abroad when you are not home to change the batteries. Second, you can view video footage on your smartphone or tablet device as you get the footage via cloud technology. There are options for downloading footage as you wish, or receiving an alert whenever there is activity.

Dropcam actually works great as a ‘do not have any parties’ prevention tool should you be leaving teenagers at home, but is equally good for simply ‘dropping in’ and putting your mind at rest.

Go 100% Covert

You can buy all manner of  hidden camera products, ranging from clocks to plug sockets and fire alarms. If you are planning on covert home surveillance, then it is best to buy, install, and test the use of these a long time before you take your trip, and even use them for everyday checkups. If you do not want video, you can get the same products purely for sound surveillance, too, while some at the top of the market may provide both.

Put your mind at rest when you travel, and use these ideas to make your home as secure as you need it to be.

Author Bio:

This article is written by Jaguar PC providing managed VPS hosting with affordable web-hosting plans along with money-back guarantee.

10 Ways To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

13 May

Identity theft is not a new thing and has been around for many years. This normally involved stealing mail or searching through bins for personal data – and still does – but online criminals now have access to a greater number of people via the online realm. Today we are going to look at ways of protecting yourself against identity theft.

1. Regularly change passwords

Never share passwords with anyone, do not note them down and use a different one for each system you access. Also, change passwords at least every three months, as those which remain the same are more open to hackers, and choose passwords that are not obvious and which consist of numeric and alphabetic characters.

2. Beware man-in-the-middle attacks

This is a scam that is particularly effective at cafes where people access a public Wi-Fi system as the user will be exposed to an open network. It puts your important data at the behest of the attacker and compromises important passwords, usernames and bank details. Conventional security tools provide little protection so it is advised that you use only encrypted network connections via VPN or HTTPS technology.

3. Be cautious of social engineering hacks

This relies on human vulnerabilities and is where people are manipulated into giving out confidential information. A hacker may call and pretend to be your credit card company wishing to verify (access) your information or pose as a social media friend to harvest private information. To protect yourself be aware of the tricks of the trade, remember that legit financial services will not ask for your confidential information over the phone, and call back your bank via the number you have if contacted by them.

4. Secure private documents

Make sure personal documents are stored in a safe place or consider storing them with your bank. Do not simple put receipts and bank statements in the bin, but instead use a shredder. If you believe your identity has been compromised report any lost or stolen documents straightaway.

5. Watch out for phishing scams

This is a scam that is similar to social engineering but deserves a slot of its own. It is where a person receives an email purporting to be from their bank or similar authority and given a reason why the urgently need to verify their details. A link will direct the person to a fake website where any personal information entered is directed to the hacker. The best way to prevent this is to remain vigilant and to report any fraudulent emails or websites.

6. Secure your Wi-Fi networks

Make sure that you set up your wireless network router so that it does not transmit your network name. Also ensure that ‘optimised’ passwords are mandatory for access and that any initial administrative passwords are immediately changed.

7. Control physical access to computers and relevant components

If someone is able to get their hands on your computer or network in a physical sense, and there is no proper security in place, this will place your personal information at danger of a potential hack. Have security measures in place and be aware of where your personal belongings are stored at all times.

8. Know your credit

Do not simply glance over bank or credit card statements and store or throw them away. Instead, closely examine the statement for anything you do not remember doing; it may be small withdrawals that simply mean the hacker is testing your account. Also make sure to check that credit score every three months.

9. Know what’s in your wallet

It is a horrible feeling when you realise that your wallet has been stolen, but it makes a difference if you know what was in there; car licence, bank cards, credit cards, etc. To increase safety against identity thefts photocopy the contents of your wallet or note them down and report any missing cards immediately.

10. Look for clues

The problem with identity theft is that it can be happening without the person being aware of the situation – so be vigilant and regularly check your accounts to make sure nothing is amiss.

Bethan Williams writes on behalf of CY4OR, a UK-based digital forensics firm specialising in quality information security services.

Omnipresent Eyes

25 Mar

Machines of Loving Grace

Governments and corporations the world over are devising ever more ingenious and intrusive schemes to keep a watchful eye on citizens.

From here on, squadrons of unmanned drones and all-pervasive surveillance over the internet could help capture what the UK’s estimated 2 million CCTV cameras cannot.

Here are some of the weirdest, most wonderful and downright scary surveillance methods currently in use.
Eyes in the Skies

State-sanctioned aerial surveillance stretches right back to the French Revolution and the formation of the world’s very first air corps in 1794.

We’ve come a long way since the Montgolfier brothers astonished revolutionary France by flying a measly nine kilometres in their famous silk balloon and inspiring the military to use a similar balloon, nicknamed l’Entreprenant, to reconnoitre enemy positions to aid a crushing victory in the decisive Battle of Fleurus . These days reconnaissance is hampered by few of the risks encountered by aviation’s early pioneers, with unmanned drone operators often sat behind a desk while surveillance imagery is beamed back from enemy territory on the other side of the planet.

According to current reports it might not be too long before the same technology is in widespread use by governments in a domestic setting. Drones already patrol the US/Mexico border and defence lobbyists have already pushed for the deregulation of US airspace, paving the way for up to 30,000 unmanned drones to be in use within the next 10 years.

Eyes Online

Employers have been monitoring internet access ever since workers were distracted by browser-based Flash games in the first years of the switched-on century. Some companies even demand access to potential employees’ social media accounts to guard against the dangers of employing a raving alcoholic and/or serial absentee.

Imagine if governments had the same powers. The scenario isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

Authorities in the UK and US are already fighting hard for similar powers, including the right to see the contents of your inbox and search history without a warrant, and even shadier spooking is already being carried out.
A very shady piece of software known as Finspy, or FinFisher, acts as a hi-tech keylogger which allows the user to take complete control of the target’s computer is already being deployed by governments whose poor human rights records is more than made up for by a talent and zest for oppression. Finspy is already being used by countries like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Turkmenistan, along with other more unexpected players like Japan, the US and UK.

This malignant little piece of software caused Reporters without Borders to brand its developer Gamma International a ‘Corporate Enemy of the Internet.’

Wireless Eyes

No story about the creeping ubiquity of surveillance technology would be complete without a reference to Orwell’s 1984. The political fable appears to have been a warning to most of us about the dangers of limited freedom that all-pervasive surveillance entails. Yet to those in power, 1984 appears to have acted less as a warning and more as a handy how-to guide.

Those who think the days in which Big Brother scrutinizes every movement of party members through the telescreen is still the stuff of fiction would do well to take a look at the case of Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Laptops handed out to students at the school were secretly fitted with software to intermittently activate the laptop’s webcam and email the collected images to central database.

The school was called out on its spying when a pupil was confronted over popping pills in his bedroom which later turned out be little more than sweets. The boy’s parents were understandably confused as to how the school knew what the pupil was up to in the privacy of his bedroom.

Following a lawsuit by concerned parents, Philadelphia State moved to ban the technology from being used in schools, but similar software is still used by laptop hire companies to help track down stolen and unpaid-for equipment.

Bob Clowrey is a copywriter with http://www.privatedetective.co.uk, a UK-based private detective agency specialising in ethical surveillance investigations.

3 Growing Trends of Child Surveillance

6 Mar

Parents may find it difficult to keep up with and keep track of their children. As our society becomes more advanced with technology and in structure and children venture out to experience new things, at some point or another parents start to worry. It’s in their nature to do so.

Children often adapt to their surroundings much quicker than parents do. This comes as no surprise since this is the environment in which they were brought up. They are familiar with the constant change and tend to embrace it. Parents on the other hand find it more difficult to adapt to these changes and regularities that society continuously offers since their upbringings were different and their environments were slower to change. Although parents may find it difficult to adjust and keep up with their children, one particular area they adapt to fairly well is the way they monitor their children and their activities. This increase in parental guidance and security has surfaced at least three notable growing trends of child surveillance.

Video Monitoring

It started with baby monitors, but slowly transitioned into video monitors. Parents felt the need to not only hear their baby or toddler, but to see them, as well. This makes sense and it never hurts to be protective (or what some may see as overprotective), at least not at this point in the child’s life.

Video monitoring provides many benefits for parents and for the health and well-being of their child. Watching their child while away from home (when there’s a babysitter present of course) or while in the next room gives parents the peace of mind they’re looking for because it keeps them informed of the current condition of their child.

What benefits does video monitoring provide over audio monitoring?

Sometimes audio monitoring isn’t enough for parents and there are good reasons for them to want more than just to hear their child crying in the middle of the night.

  • Seeing Is Believing: Video provides additional peace of mind for parents. It calms them to know just what their child is doing. Seeing a child at ease puts the parents at ease. It’s that simple.
  • Audio Doesn’t Give All the Answers: Audio monitoring doesn’t inform parents of all that is occurring. For instance, what if their child stops breathing? Unless the baby snores or wheezes when it sleeps, chances are the parents won’t know.

Online Activity

The internet’s overall purpose is great. It provides tons of free, useful information and enhances the way people communicate and make exchanges. Much like the real world, the virtual world requires many methods of security and safety. Who knows where people will end up or what viruses they’ll catch?

Parents worry about what their child is exposed to and what activities they participate in. With certain computer software, parents can monitor their child’s online activities. Some software includes screen shots and keystroke logging. This is particularly beneficial since some children may try going “incognito” with their web browsers in an attempt to elude any evidence of what they view online.

When children venture out to unsafe places on the internet, they may expose the computer to certain malware or viruses, which is why not only having a computer monitoring software is important, but anti-virus protection software, as well. (See bottom of page for a list of computer software and anti-virus protection options.)

From children’s perspective, it’s also fair to give them the benefit of the doubt. The internet can be deceiving and they may unintentionally go somewhere they shouldn’t, which is why the computer monitoring software comes in handy.

Mobile Apps

Smart phones are a technology that any child or parent can agree on utilizing. Some of the best features smart phones have are the apps they provide. Children love apps because it allows them to change with society easier and quicker so they can progress alongside or further advance that change. Parents love apps because it communicates complicated things and tasks in a simple way. It smoothens the way for them to understand their constantly changing society.

Innovators vs. Followers

Children are typically the innovators, or will be, of a society because they’re the most techno-savvy, whereas parents are typically the followers and oftentimes the laggards in a society because they’re not used to the quick growth.

Child Surveillance Apps

Nonetheless, parents adapt, too, some more than others. They take advantage of certain apps that will allow them to monitor their children. They might not be able to keep up with the continuous changes of society and the environment around them, but they can certainly keep up with their children.

Some apps inform parents of their child’s online activities and how fast their child drives or stream live video to a mobile device to view their child’s current activity. Better yet, some apps give parents an assortment of information all on one mobile platform app, giving them greater convenience when monitoring their child’s activities.

Here’s a list of computer software and mobile apps, including ratings, which assist parents in monitoring their children’s online activities, allowing them to explore safely online and following other online and offline activities. Whether it’s video monitoring, online monitoring or utilizing mobile apps to perform various kinds of monitoring, parents are now able to keep up with their children online and offline.

About the author:

Sam Ott writes on behalf of Nightwatch Security, leader in home security and safety in the Sedalia, Mo, area. Visit their website at www.nightwatch.net/Home_Security_Systems for information on home security systems and family protection options.

The 3 Latest Developments in Retail Surveillance

5 Mar

In retail stores across the country you might see this sign:Surveillance Cameras

Consumers have gotten used to being watching in retail stores. It’s part of life. Stores need to protect themselves from theft and unwarranted law suits, so they watch their customers and employees. However, new advances in surveillance hardware and software are changing the surveillance landscape and businesses are taking an even closer look at shopper’s behavior.

HD

The TV’s have had high-definition video for over a decade. YouTube streams it. Even the latest phones record video in HD. Why wouldn’t surveillance cameras?

HD cameras allow security officers to get a better picture of current and past situations. This can be helpful in many ways. It can:

  • Catch smaller and more subtle cases of shop-lifting or loss at the cash register
  • Identify suspects quickly and record a clearer database of suspicious characters
  • Create more credible evidence for court cases such as faces, license plates, or distinctive actions

Facial Recognition

With these high-quality images, some companies have created software to prevent loss and catch criminals. This software can recognize criminals using a stored database of faces. It promises to become so advanced that it can even alert companies of “suspicious” behavior. This detection method is already being used in casinos to find card counters and cheats.

This security technology is great, but the software also promises futuristic tools for marketers, affecting all customers. Imagine walking through a store and a camera catches your face. Software scans a database and identifies you as a frequent customer, who has spent a considerable amount of money.

This purchase history is sent to an employee’s smartphone along with your picture. She greets you with your name and asks how the last purchase is working out. All of this happens and you’ve never met this employee in your life.

Data Sharing

Another surveillance trend is occurring further away from the store in vast server farms. The “cloud,” tech’s latest buzz word, allows retail stores to share information on customers and suspects that they collect through facial recognition software, HD camera, and the rest of the information they get from your purchase history. Currently, retailers use LERPnet, a database of photos, video, and incident reports connected to shop-lifters.

While facial recognition technology and data sharing is mostly used in government organizations and the technology has bug issues, the promise of more data on customers appeals to both security and marketing professionals. With so much reward in retail, it’s hard to imagine the promises made by these technologies won’t be fulfilled in the near future.

What do you think? Will advances in retail surveillance contribute to the customer experience or are they just plain creepy?

Bio: Alex Roitman is an outreach manager at MySecuritySign.com. Friendly and personable, he cultivates relationships throughout the safety and security industries. Alex’s articles spotlight new industry trends for consumers and small businesses. He provides tips to give small businesses advice to keep customers and employees safe and secure.

How To Protect Your Child From Cyberbullying

20 Feb

With the prevalence of tablets, laptops and smartphones, today’s youth are afforded access to the internet with increasing ease. The downside is that unsavory internet bullies also have easier access to your kids.

The plague of cyber bullying can often take many different forms and come from several different directions. Whether it’s by a close friend from school or a complete stranger on the other end of the world, the end result is the same — psychological hurt. And as a parent, it is your responsibility to properly educate and prepare your child to navigate the challenging waters of the Internet.

Educate Yourself

Before you can help protect your child from cyberbullying, you need to acquaint yourself with the internet sites that they’re using. Start by reading up on the social networks that your child frequents, and if you are one of the many parents that struggle with technology, try asking a friend or relative for help. There are also several online guides dedicated to helping parents better understand technology, such as the guide published by the National Crime and Prevention Council, as well as dedicated online forums where you can ask questions to other parents.

Once you have a better understanding of social networks and the Internet, sign up for your own account, but be sure you’re covering the full gamut, as there are a host of social media sites that you may not be familiar with, such as Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, all of which offer ways for people to communicate directly online. After creating your own accounts on these sites, you’ll be able to follow your children to see who they communicate with and the information they are sharing online.

Talk to Your Children

Starting an honest conversation with your child is one of the most critical steps to take if you want to protect them from the dangers of online bullies. Remember that kids are blank slates, and their first experiences with the internet will make a lasting impression on them, so start an open dialogue and try to inform them of the benefits and dangers of the web.

You should also work with your child to create a plan of action if the situation arises where they are victim to cyber bullies. In such a case, it is always better for them to ignore the offending remark or action and come to you directly. If the interaction occurs on a social media network, security tools allow you to block the offending user. But don’t lose sight of the fact that cyber bullying can eventually spill over into the real world, so if the user is someone you know, such as a student from your child’s school, try bringing the problem to the attention of their parents.

And if the offender persists, save and print the relevant messages to give to your local police and school officials.

Monitor Your Child’s Online Activities

Depending on the age and maturity of your children, unfettered access to the Internet may not be a wise idea. Instead, place the family computer in a public area of your house. By placing the computer in a public space, such as the living room, you will be able to more closely monitor your child’s online activity, and engage them in conversation without feeling like an intruder.

If you can’t always monitor your child’s online access at home, you can use Internet filtering software to limit your child’s access to social media sites, chat rooms and online games. Although these tools offer some protection, don’t rely solely on these filters as the modern day tech-savvy child might eventually learn to circumvent such programs.

In general, never rely on technology to do the parenting for you.

Set Limits

In addition to monitoring your child’s online interactions, you can set firm rules on Internet usage in your house. For instance, by only allowing internet access after school homework or household chores are completed, you can effectively establish internet access as a reward, instead of as a right. This will encourage them to avoid bullies, in order to maximize the pleasure of their internet time.

If your child has a smartphone, you may want to set limits on that as well. Several applications already exist that will allow you to check up on their activity in real-time from the comfort of your home PC. This will alert you to any bullying that the child might be concealing, and if you suspect they may be deleting, or hiding text messages, you can then disable the service altogether while still allowing your child to make phone calls.

Look for Signs

Even if you have a positive and open relationship with your children, they may not always come to you after interacting with a cyberbully. However, you can look for some signs that may indicate that your child is dealing with a bully. Some of these signs include aggression, irritability and changes to their sleeping and eating habits.

Try confronting them directly about their problems, and make it clear from the outset that they’re not to blame. If your child proves reluctant, or dismisses your help, then try talking to their teachers or fellow parents to get the full story, and consider bringing the child to a therapist for professional help.

Allowing your child to roam the Internet without any guidelines or education can lead to disaster. so stay involved in your child’s online activities to make sure their internet experience is a healthy one.

7 Reasons to Own a Nanny Camera

31 Jan

Nanny cameras can be hidden in items ranging from an alarm clock to a tissue box, but why would you need this piece of equipment? Whether or not you have children, investing in a hidden nanny camera can be beneficial when anyone spends time in your home when you’re not there.

Reason One: You work and need to leave your child with a babysitter or nanny.

This is the most common reason for using a nanny camera, and there’s certainly a benefit to investing in a nanny camera when you need to leave your child with someone other than yourself. Even if you do a background check on a babysitter or nanny, you can never be sure that they will do what you expect them to do when you’re not there. In addition to checking to ensure your child is safe, discover whether a nanny is engaging your child in educational activities during the day.

Reason Two: Contractors, housekeepers or babysitters will be spending time in your home when you’re not there.

Letting someone in your home when you can’t be there is unnerving, so use a nanny camera to be sure that no one is disturbing your personal belongings or stealing from you when you are gone. Even if you trust a service professional, it is not uncommon for small things to be taken or used without permission.

Reason Three: You want to stay aware of what your child is doing.

This reason involves wanting to see your child grow up when you have to be away at work. If you have a baby who is just learning to crawl, walk or play, you can use a nanny camera to capture all of those firsts when you have to be on the job.

Reason Four: Contractors are working on construction in your home.

Contractors are not always known for following your directions and working to the best of their ability when they’re on the job, so use a nanny camera to discover whether you’re getting what you’re paying for when it comes to contracting jobs. Some tasks are overlooked that can be hard to detect once the job is completed, and having a video of what a contractor did while in your home is a method of proving that you didn’t get what you paid for once construction is complete.

Reason Five: Nannies and babysitters are not always attentive.

Even if your child is safe with their babysitter, you probably don’t want to pay a lot of money for childcare that involves the babysitter or nanny talking on the phone with friends, surfing the Internet or watching TV the entire time that they’re on the job. Some nanny cameras have even revealed nannies sleeping on the job.

Reason Six: Children may make alarming accusations.

Children do not always understand the difference between reality and their imagination, so it may be necessary to use a nanny camera to determine whether an accusation that has been made is accurate.

Reason Seven: Behavioral problems can blur the line between fantasy and reality.

Children who have behavioral problems may need help that can only be effective if parents are aware of how their children act in private. A nanny camera can be used to discover how the child plays on his own in order to determine how the child truly feels and acts about a certain situation.

If you have people in your home when you’re away, gain peace of mind by investing in a nanny camera. This discreet piece of equipment can help you make sure that no one is stealing, causing harm to loved ones or damaging your property when you’re not there to observe.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.