Security Tips for Home Renovations

construction-19696_1280Home renovation is an exciting and fulfilling prospect for many homeowners. Whether you’re adding on or adjusting an existing space it’s imperative to make sure your home is protected during the process. While renovating your home is rewarding for you and your family, you don’t want it to be a “rewarding” process for would-be thieves and criminals. Our experts here at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand protecting your home is a top priority, especially during a renovation when it is more vulnerable. We’ve been providing security system solutions to northern and central New Jersey homes since 1992. If you are renovating and considering a home security system or adding on to an existing one don’t hesitate to call on our professionals. Having a security systems expert involved from the get-go is essential for seamless integration and full protection. We understand the renovation process can be dubious at times, the following tips can help remove some of the hassle and uncertainty.

Hiring the right contractor

When it comes to your home and family you can never be too careful. You wouldn’t hire a babysitter without doing your research first, the same holds true for finding the right contractor. A background check is a great way to tell whether or not the company you want to hire is reputable or not. Here’s the caveat, companies with bad reputations or failed business sometimes shut down and reopen under a new name (ACE Private Risk Services). So how can you really be sure of who you’re hiring? In many cases architects are involved in the renovation process, they should have good insight into which companies are trustworthy. Ask your friends and family for referrals. Use websites like Angie’s List to find out what other customers think about the contractor you’re interested in hiring. Gain as much knowledge about the company/ies of interest before making a final decision.

When signing a contract be sure it delineates who is responsible for what and that the associated cost makes sense. Sometimes contractors will low-ball the contract price and try to add cost later, blaming it on “unexpected” issues. Ask the contractor directly for a review of their past or most current jobs, those with nothing to hide should be more than happy to abide. After all it’s your home, you want it done right. It is also important from a liability standpoint to be sure the contractor has insurance for his/her self and their workers, you don’t want to incur the cost of someone being injured on the job.

Utilize existing security features

If you have an existing security system in your home, use it to keep an eye on the renovation process. Having remote monitoring access through your video surveillance system will allow you to check-in on your home while you’re away at work or can’t be there. While you’re not out to purposefully incarcerate or accuse the people working on your home of being lazy, trying to rip you off, or stealing it is in your best interest to protect your property. Many, if not most, contractors are reputable and diligent in their work, but nobody is perfect and unfortunately there are companies that do try to take advantage.

Take for example this story of a homeowner who was having the exterior caulking on his windows reinforced. The hired contractor had quoted him for 8 hours of work. The homeowner set up a wireless camera to monitor activity outside his home for when the contractor was scheduled to be working. He was able to see when the contractor arrived, and the hours he spent sitting in his truck NOT performing the agreed upon work. Ultimately, the contractor performed only 5 of the quoted 8 hours of work. When the contractor was paid for the 5 hours he couldn’t dispute it as the homeowner had irrefutable evidence (story courtesy of Negative experiences aside, monitoring your home during construction can also validate the expertise a contractor has, giving you incentive to recommend them in the future.

In all likelihood if you have an existing security system, you’ll be adding on to it in the new space or at least altering it during the renovation process. Including your security system provider from the beginning is a beneficial tactic. If you have a hardwired security system, what better time to include the security provider than when the walls are already open? It will save you from the cost of having to tear them open after the fact. Plus, your security expert/s can address your concerns before construction starts and openly communicate with the other professionals involved. Having that dialogue between the different professional services from the start will create a smoother and more productive process.

Securing the job site

Aside from hiring the right people to complete the job, you want to make sure the job site is adequately secured. One of the most basic, yet often forgotten or disregarded ways to help prevent damage or loss is to lock your doors and windows. While it may not stop someone from breaking in, it will certainly slow them down. This will help control who has access to various parts of your home during the construction process as well.

Alert your security system provider of your upcoming changes, they’ll likely have suggestions on how to protect the exposed portions of your home. Like preventing fire damage by installing temporary smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Confirm with your security system provider that your current fire alarm system will still function throughout the duration of the project. Even having your security systems expert install additional, maybe temporary, surveillance equipment will help you keep an eye on what’s going on.

Keeping the job site clean and free of unnecessary debris should be part of the construction crew’s responsibility; it makes for a safer work environment and lessens the potential of property damage and injury. It also helps prevent damage to products being used in the renovated space. You don’t want to get charged for parts your own construction crew broke, right?

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of a home renovation project, but don’t let that be a reason to let your guard down. Keep your home and family safe by doing your research and maintaining security. Our team of experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the value in protecting your home no matter what. We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to residences in central and northern New Jersey for over 20 years. Whatever you have going on, whether it’s a small renovation or substantial addition, don’t hesitate to call on our specialists for a security assessment. You’ll be setting yourself up for success!

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

VoIP And Your Business

Telephone-Billy BrownWe live in an exciting time where it seems every day a new technology is being born. Everything from our computers to our phones to our everyday accessories are advancing at a rapid pace. The implications of a technology may not be fully realized until after the fact, and it may not always be an issue with the technology itself, but how it interacts with existing components of our already complex systems. This is especially true of security system components.

In a comprehensive security system there are access controls, burglar and fire alarms, video surveillance, a monitoring service, and sometimes motion/glass break detectors. With all of these moving parts security integrators have to understand the functions of each component and how they will affect one another. As licensed security systems integrators our professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. we deal with the changing technological environment by being educated and thoroughly evaluating what technologies will actually benefit our clients. Our integrators have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.

Many, if not most, security systems are migrating to a network based solution where system components are tied to an internet network. This is where VoIP technology may come into play. What is VoIP? It stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Essentially VoIP technology allows voice signals to be transferred over a network versus the traditional POTS (plain old telephone service). How does this tie into security systems? In the not so distant past security system components were hardwired and heavily relied on traditional phone lines for communication capabilities. Even with the surge of wireless components available there are still many hardwired systems that rely on the dependability of a phone line connection. VoIP technology essentially replaces the traditional phone line and can be used to bundle all communications, like cable and internet, into one service.

Sounds convenient, but like any technology there are bound to be issues, particularly with how it can potentially interfere with security systems. Where you might run into trouble is when an alarm is triggered. Typically, when an alarm is triggered a signal is sent to the monitoring station prompting them to alert the proper authorities. Depending on the installation and the service, it could cause unpredictable or failed communication of alarm signals to the central monitoring station. Some VoIP services can’t connect directly to 911 and on the dispatchers end they might not be able to see your phone number or address when you call, which is problematic when a response is needed.

The reasons why VoIP can cause unreliability are not always obvious especially to the end user. According to Kenneth L. Gentile, a senior consulting engineer for Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc., “Digital alarm communication transmitters (DACTs) and other alarm transmitters initiate tones designed for transmission over POTS.” Sometimes these tones meant for the monitoring station do not translate properly over VoIP lines due to signal distortion.

Installation error can be a factor in the reliability, or lack thereof, in VoIP services as well. If the initial alarm wiring was installed on the existing telephone service it could prevent the alarm from transmitting properly and it’s up to your security systems integrator to recognize that. Alarm system tests can typically be run to ensure its operability, but according to Gentile, an on-site test with a VoIP service can’t always determine proper function or what the problem may be. Instead he suggests VoIP service providers and the alarm monitoring service should be asked to conjointly demonstrate transmission of alarm signals under normal circumstances, when there is a power failure, and when VoIP is in use. Doing so should help point out any potential issues with alarm signal transmission. Gentile says, “VoIP service must be engineered so as not to jeopardize the essential emergency communications upon which public safety depends.”

Issues aside, VoIP service promises to be a beneficial technology. Apparently it comes with great cost savings. According to Eduard L. Telders, director of enterprise information security at T-Mobile, “VoIP can eliminate the entire expense stream of establishing and maintaining a circuit-switched network for telephone connections.” Being able to bundle all communications into one service is appealing to end users and vendors alike. It makes maintenance and service calls more convenient, having to call only one provider versus one for each service. Facilities that employ VoIP technologies in conjunction with their security systems have the advantage of real-time response to criminal activity. With VoIP, central monitoring stations can actually speak directly to an intruder caught on camera, transmitting a voice message through speakers installed at the subscribers on site location.

While it may have yet to be perfected VoIP technology seems to be a leading change in communication capabilities. The implications it may have on security system transmissions and emergency responses are critical issues that need to be addressed by VoIP providers, security system integrators, monitoring services, emergency responders, and industry professionals. Keep in mind that just because something is available, doesn’t make it the best option for your specific needs. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators believe in providing comprehensive security solutions that will enhance the safety and security of your facility, not hinder it. We have been installing comprehensive security systems at businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992, we have the experience and knowledge to design a system that will work best for you.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Billy Brown-Flickr-Creative Commons

Home Automation and Security Systems

As the technology driven world continues to evolve, our lives are becoming more and more connected.  Virtual distances are shrinking.  This has been happening since the inception of the internet.  You no longer have to fly across the world to have a meeting, you simply login to a virtual meeting where you can talk “in-person” via video chat.  Although it may be imperfect, technology has certainly had an impact on all of our lives in one way or another.

Smart home AccessOur lives are saturated in advanced technological gadgets, everything from our cars to our smartphones, why should our homes be any different?  It used to be enough having a home security system that would alert the authorities in an emergency, but why stop there?  Home automation, or the “connected home,” is quickly becoming an integral part of a comprehensive home security system.  It’s a driving force that is changing the way homeowners and system integrators perceive “home security.”

As a licensed security system provider, our professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. are always looking for the best ways to protect your home.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to residences throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Technological advancement means we are constantly learning and adapting our solutions to best suit client needs.  That’s not to say just because something is new that it should be implemented, we do our due diligence before installation of any product including home automation devices.

Home automation products aren’t exclusively linked to home security.  In fact there is a plethora of automation devices that can be installed separate from a security system, often requiring a DIY (do it yourself) approach.  For example there are devices that can be attached to kitchen appliances that can be controlled by logging into apps on your smartphone.  However, rather than complicating our daily lives by having to download separate apps for everything in our homes, we have steadily been adopting technology in an effort to streamline and simplify.  When it comes to home security, with DIY solutions you’re likely not getting full coverage while simultaneously complicating processes.  Plus they often lack continuity and one of the most important aspects of a security system, monitoring.  Rather than separating the functions of a home security system and home automation, integrators and homeowners are combining the two creating more efficient and effective life safety and lifestyle systems.

One of the top benefits of home automation is convenience.  Capabilities include remote interaction with home devices and your security system.  Imagine being able to know the exact moment your kids walk through the front door while you’re at work or on your way home.  With home automation you’re able to set up custom notifications that will be sent to your smartphone, mobile device, or computer.  This means you can go on vacation and be notified of temperature drops in your home, package deliveries, or close the open garage doors you forgot about before you left.

Depending on your home automation application, often times you can log-in to your surveillance cameras, turn lights on and off, lock and unlock doors, control media (audio and video), arm and disarm your alarm system, all from the convenience of your mobile device.  When integrated with your home’s security system a singular control panel can be centralized to help avoid confusion that can result from having too many different operating mechanisms.

As a homeowner you might be asking yourself “how will home automation affect my security system?”  For the most part home automation is considered a promising and revolutionary approach to added home safety and efficiency, but as with anything, it isn’t perfect.  Any technology that operates over the internet inherently comes with the looming threat of hackers.  Why would someone want to hack a home automation or security system?  To state the most obvious, they’re likely interested in disabling your alarm system so they can break-in.  Other reasons could include wanting to cause general havoc by tampering with your lights or HVAC system, wasting energy for no other reason than driving up your utilities bill; for “fun.”

Fortunately there are ways to decrease the chances of being hacked, both on the user and integrator end.  In many cases home automation operates wirelessly over a home Wi-Fi network.  No matter how protected you think your network may be it should always be protected with encryptions and user authentication.  The same holds true for connected security devices and any device that transmits a signal.  There must be authentication between home automation devices, the security system, and whatever mobile device you are using to access them.  Otherwise your system is susceptible to third party hackers.

Take the case of Insteon home automation systems back in 2013.  Kashmir Hill, a Forbes Staff Writer, highlights the findings of David Bryan and Daniel Crowley, security researchers at Trustwave, and what they discovered is alarming (for lack of a better word).  They found that not only was there a lack of password protection on the consumer end, but that the Insteon products (now discontinued, for obvious reasons) themselves did not require usernames and passwords and were “crawl-able” (searchable) on the web.  This meant that anyone with a little know-how could access and mess with the connected Insteon products; unnerving to say the least.  Be sure to hire licensed professionals that fully understand the products they are installing and how they will interact with your home network.

While technology is imperfect and constantly transforming you can be sure if you hire a licensed security integrator with product knowledge and experience you’ll be setting yourself up for success.  A professional with industry knowledge will be able to ensure your system is as secure as it can be by using products that require authentication and that your network is encrypted.  As a licensed security system provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. understands that securing a home and improving the lives of others doesn’t mean haphazardly throwing random products together just to get a job done.  We have been providing security solutions to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Technological evolution is never-ending as is our commitment to providing the safest products and security systems available.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Phil Campbell-Flickr-Creative Commons

Investing in Access Control

Steven DepoloWhat is access control?  In the simplest of terms it can be explained as a means to allow or deny entry to or exit from a designated space.  Think of the kinds you likely use on a daily basis, a key to lock or unlock your front door or an electronic gate that lets you into the parking garage at work.  But what does it mean, what are the options when it comes to business integration and security systems, and why might your facility need it?  As licensed security systems providers our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We have extensive knowledge and experience in creating comprehensive security systems that often include some form of access control.

Before looking at the different types of access control available it is important to understand why it may be necessary in the first place.  In most cases access control is used as a layer of protection.  What warrants this added layer of protection is subjective.  It could be company assets, valuable materials, sensitive or confidential information, medication (assisted living or healthcare facilities), staff and employees, or any combination of these items.  Regardless of what needs protection, the point is it warrants reinforcement.

The most simplistic and ubiquitous form of access control is a door lock and key.  While this system is effective at creating a temporary barrier, it is not sophisticated enough to prevent a break-in on its own.  Consider how easy it is to lose a key or duplicate one for that matter.  An experienced burglar or criminal could easily pick a standard lock.  This is why many companies turn to more advanced technologies typically provided in conjunction with a comprehensive security system.

An access control system (ACS) consists of the user being issued a “credential” which is then used on an electronic reader typically at the point of entry or in close proximity.  A credential can consist of any predetermined physical item like a plastic ID card or token that is embedded with the appropriate access information.  When it is swiped, tapped, or within range of the electronic reader, access or exit will be permitted.  According to, “A credential is presented to an electronic reader that gathers information stored on the credential and compares it to preset parameters and information stored in the ACS computer.”

A fairly common form of access control is using a keypad and PIN number or code.  When used individually this type of technology is not always effective.  PINs can be easily stolen by an onlooker observing you entering it.  Wear and tear on the same digits on the keypad can also be a dead give-away to someone looking to gain entry.  When used in combination with other access control methods a keypad can become more effective as an added layer of security.

One of the most secure and pervasive electronic technologies being implemented in the access control industry today is proximity technology.  How does it work?  Basically a plastic card or token (fob) is embedded with an electronic chip and antenna.  The internal chip is coded and when presented within range of the electronic reader the code is transmitted.  If the code is recognized and verified by the reader access will be granted.  The obvious downfall of this type of system is if you were to lose your card/token or if it were stolen.

Looking toward the future a less popular form of access control is sitting on the back-burner.  Biometrics.  According to Steven Hausman biometrics involves, “analyzing physiological and/or behavioral characteristics of the body, both classes of which would be presumably unique to an individual, and thus more reliable than traditional methods of verifying identity.”  This could be anything from fingerprint to vocal recognition.  This technology isn’t as widely used as some of the more traditional forms of access control because of its cost and reliability issues.  Although it may be difficult to replicate physical traits, it can be done.  The television show “Mythbusters” proved that fingerprints can be replicated using latex and ballistics gel.  While this technology may have some kinks to work out, it’s something to keep an eye on in the future.

There are many viable options when it comes to access control integration.  When combined with a comprehensive security system access control technologies become more effective at deterring crime.  A comprehensive system includes not only access control but video surveillance, fire alarms, burglar alarms, and alarm monitoring.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing access control and security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We understand you have many concerns when it comes to the security of your business, and we are here to help guide you through the process from an initial assessment to final installation.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Steven Depolo-Flickr-Creative Commons

Layers of Security

One of the most important techniques to protecting your home is creating layers of security. It’s not very difficult for a burglar to get past one line of defense.  The more difficult it is and the longer it takes a burglar to break into your home, the more likely they’ll run away. Neighbors are also more likely to spot someone breaking in if you are able to slow any potential thieves down. Adding additional layers of security can easily mean the difference between staying protected and a potential robbery.

House with lock-Ts_pasha

The first line of defense is your exterior. Make sure your exterior is well maintained and looks occupied, even if you’re away. Unmowed lawns, newspapers on the porch, and mail piling up are all signs that no one is watching the house. Motion detector lights and well trimmed bushes/hedges protect you from people sneaking onto your property.  If you need to leave a spare key outside, make sure it is well hidden and not in commonly checked places (under the mat, in the mailbox, under an out of place fake rock). For the most effective security, external weatherproofed security cameras with a 24 hour monitoring company can provide a high level of protection.

Your house itself is your next line of defense.  About 85% of burglaries take place with the thief entering through the front or back door.  About 60% of break ins are accomplished using force. Replace hollow doors with solid-core doors, add a dead-bolt, and reinforce the door jamb with metal. Adding a security film to windows will make them much more difficult to break. Most importantly, make sure all windows and doors are locked when you leave the house, even for a quick trip to the store. 30% of burglaries occur through an unlocked window or door.

Inside your house is the most critical line of defense. Use thick drapes and keep valuables out of view so burglars can’t see inside what you have inside your house. Electronics and jewelry are often the most sought-after items for criminals. Identify theft is also one of the fastest growing crimes. Make sure these valuable assets are protected – a large heavy Internal motion detectors, glassbreak detectors, and video cameras on an alarm system provide a comprehensive defense against potential burglaries.

While the physical barriers to a burglar getting in is extremely important,  another aspect  to remember is the psychological defenses. Signs and stickers that an alarm system is installed in the house are great deterrents. A dog is also a very large reason many potential burglars would avoid a house – even if you don’t have one, making it look like you do by posting a sign or leaving a leash outside can help. Audible alarm systems are not just to alert you or neighbors to a potential intruder, but also to scare away anyone that has made it into your house.