Communication: The Key To Smart Homes

Smart home AccessIn the wake of home automation, smart home, or connected home technology you may have come across the term Z-Wave technology. What is it? Z-Wave technology is, “a wireless technology that makes regular household products, like lights, door locks and thermostats ‘smart’.” It’s what allows your home devices to “talk” to each other and be controlled remotely via your mobile device. Why is this important? Well, if you have home automation or been considering it, it’s all about ease of integration, flexibility, and interoperability. Home automation and its perspective devices are an integral part of a comprehensive home security system. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators have been providing comprehensive home security solutions for the past 23 years. We believe in making your life easier and more convenient by providing technologies that not only operate effectively but help provide superior protection.

Having strong communication between devices is crucial to the efficacy of your system. It seems Z-Wave technology has the majority grip on the market as it stand today – over 1,700 in 2017,and over 2,400 by the end of 2018.This is beneficial to integrators and end-users alike. The quantity of smart products that operate on Z-Wave technology opens the door to highly flexible smart home applications. This means you can outfit your entire house with automation devices that can be controlled from your central control panel or a single application on your mobile device versus having to control devices piecemeal because they don’t operate on the same technology.

According to Mark Walters, chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance, “…greater than 80 percent of the North American security company-based lifestyle solutions are powered by Z-Wave.” The wide breadth of automation product availability within the Z-Wave family provides immense system scalability for homeowners and integrators. Meaning your initial product installations are not finite. Security and automation devices can be added on an as needed basis. For example, you may start with automated door locks, lighting, and garage door control but you may find that with time your needs expand to temperature management, skylight controls, and/or guarding against potential water damage; it’s always nice to only have to go through the installation process once, but it’s comforting to know you have options after the fact. While most homeowners rely on the experts to properly install devices in their home, the range of Z-Wave technology products does open the door to a more DIY approach. However, it is important to note that it is always wise to consult a licensed security system integrator to ensure proper product installation and operation. This technology also provides an open platform for integrators and consumers who prefer products from a specific manufacturer, making it easier to get exactly what you want.

What about existing household technologies, will they be affected by Z-Wave home automation devices? Today our lives are inundated with technology, your home probably has a slew of devices that operate on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The potential issue with a house full of devices operating simultaneously is the communication disruption they can incur on one another. Luckily with Z-Wave technology you don’t have to worry about interference with or from other household devices. Its operational capabilities were designed specifically for home control. It’s a low energy consumption, bandwidth efficient technology that won’t inhibit other home devices. Z-Wave technology also has a vast international presence throughout Europe further expanding their territory for consistency, device compatibility, and home automation integration. On top of that, Wi-Fi consumes a lot of power, and Bluetooth is limited in signal range and number of devices.

Home automation is a facet of comprehensive security systems that improves a homeowners posture in security. It is meant to improve lives through convenience and seamless integration. With home automation you can turn lights on and off remotely with the tap of your finger on your mobile device. You can arm or disarm your alarm system while on vacation. You can monitor an aging loved one who wants to maintain a level of independence by tracking their activity on your smartphone. Or you can use it to receive instant notifications of real time events like your kids arrival home from school. Like any system, home automation is only as good as the sum of its parts and the technology it operates on.

Z-Wave technology is the means by which many automation devices communicate with each other and the system as a whole. The strong hold it has on the market today seems to prove it’s effectiveness and dependability. It creates flexibility in product selection and system integration without interfering with existing household devices. Chances are if you already have home automation as part of your security system your devices operate on Z-Wave technology. This technology and the devices it encompasses show no signs of slowing down in our age of technological progression.

Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. have been providing custom and comprehensive security system solutions to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992. We believe in providing technologies that enhance your home’s security and home automation devices do just that. Home automation is part of a comprehensive security system which should include fire and burglar alarms, video surveillance, access control, and a monitoring service. We help your home security stay relevant and provide technology that improves your quality of life.

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 Domoalert Smart Life Quality’s photostream-Flickr-Creative Commons

The Benefits of Home Automation

With advancing technology becoming more and more present in our daily lives, it’s no wonder it’s becoming part of our homes too.  From solar panels on our roofs to remotely controlled thermostats, we are creating homes akin to the Jetson’s space age abode.  Unlike the Jestson’s most of us still live in homes on the ground without robot housekeepers and flying cars.

Whether or not technology is pushing us towards zero-gravity transportation, one thing is for sure, our homes are advancing with us.  Look how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.  Starting with the inception of the internet around 1962, we’ve gone from the most simplistic data sharing capabilities to now virtually living online.  We can take the internet with us on our phones, tablets, laptops, and other wireless devices; it’s an integral part of our communication systems.  It only makes sense that our physical living spaces are becoming more connected to our mobile lives.

So what does it mean to have a connected home or home automation?  It’s being able to wirelessly control devices in and around your home from virtually anywhere in the world via a mobile device (i.e. a smartphone, tablet, etc.).  You know that feeling of, “I think I forgot something”?  That gut wrenching sensation can be a thing of the past when you include home automation as part of your security system.  With home automation or interactive services you no longer have to worry whether or not you forgot to lock your doors or arm the alarm system because you can do it from your phone. You can even check in on your kids, pets, and loved ones by logging into your home security cameras through an app.  The capabilities are seemingly endless and the technology behind home automation is only moving forward. Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe in providing superior home security systems that can include sophisticated, yet easy to use, home automation features.  Our team of experts has been providing home security system solutions to central and northern New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We understand the value in having a connected home, do you?

Convenience

Picture this, you’re coming back from a long vacation, somewhere tropical of course.  You’re in the car on the way home from the airport, the cool crisp air of winter in New Jersey lingering on your cheeks.  Then it hits you.  Your home is in New Jersey, its winter, and you turned the heat way down before you left.  Looks like you’re going to be wearing your coat and galoshes around the house until it heats up.  The frustration is setting in when you realize, “I can turn up the heat from my phone!”(cue the idea light-bulb).bulb_idea You log into your mobile app and swiftly adjust your thermostat to a comfortable temperature.  By the time you get home it’s warm and cozy, no need to stay bundled up.

Being able to adjust your home climate from afar is just one of the many conveniences home automation provides.  You can lock and unlock doors, open/close garages, turn lights on and off, log into your security cameras to see what is going on at your house, and arm or disarm your alarm system.  With a firm understanding of how your home automation works, you can program notifications and optimize different features of your home and security system.

Savings

Aside from being a convenient addition to your everyday life, home automation can actually save you money.  Think about your utilities, one of the major money-drainers is electrical use.  With programmable lights and the ability to turn them on and off remotely, wasting electricity becomes a thing of the past.  The largest portion of your utilities likely comes from heating and cooling your home.  Being able to program your thermostats can be a huge saver in energy costs throughout the course of a year.  Never mind the fact that you’d be enhancing your homes overall efficiency.

Environmental Impact

When it comes to wasting energy, the U.S. is unfortunately no stranger to inefficiency.  According to Forbes.com America ranks number one among developed nations, even ahead of China, for energy waste.  Energy inefficiencies impact not only our environment, but our economic status as well.  In fact low energy productivity in the United States is estimated to cost businesses and households an estimated $130 billion annually.  While home automation may seem like a small piece of the energy-efficiency pie, imagine if every home could cut their waste even by a small percentage; the impact would be substantial.

Peace of mind

Yes, home automation can save you money.  Yes, it can increase your home’s efficiency.  Yes, it gives you the capability to monitor your alarm system from afar.  Yes, it saves you time and aggravation.  The best side effect is one that can’t be measured by the money in your bank account or the bottom line on your utilities bill.  It’s the peace of mind you gain.  That feeling of knowing your kids are home safe from school because you were able to see them arrive.  Knowing that your home and valuables are safe while you’re on vacation.  Receiving customized notifications that are specific to your needs and schedule.  You can’t achieve the same peace of mind from a security system alone, no matter how sophisticated.

Whether you’re in the market for your first security system or want to add home automation to an existing setup, don’t hesitate to call on our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc..  Our specialists have been providing comprehensive security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We customize security solutions to fit specific needs unique to your home.

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.

Home Security Checklist

Dorothy-Insomnia Cured Here“There is no place like home.” — L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1))

Isn’t that the truth?  There truly is no place like home.  It’s your place of comfort, family congregations, entertainment, and life.  With any home there are weak spots that open you up to potential threats.  Maybe you already know this because you’ve hired a professional to assess your security needs, and you now have a comprehensive security system installed.  Whether or not you have sought professional service to protect your home, there are things you can check/do to make sure you’re properly deterring potential threats.  Providing residential security systems solutions to Northern and Central New Jersey for over 25 years, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. can offer insight on how to better protect your home.  Check out the following tips for a safer home.

Knowing Your Weaknesses:

  • High or untrimmed shrubbery/vegetation surrounding your home
    • Creates convenient hiding spots for criminals
  • Leaving spare keys throughout your property-you know the typical “it’s under the matt” approach
    • Makes it easier for burglars/thieves to get into your home
  • Poorly lit driveways and home entries
    • Allows a criminal to go undetected/conceals them better
  • Leaving valuable items in plain sight
    • Gives a burglar more incentive to break-in
  • Out of date or dysfunctional fire alarms and carbon/smoke monoxide detectors
    • Leaves you and your family inadequately protected in the event of an emergency
  • Broken or weak door and window locks
    • Provides easier access to your home
  • Not having a home security system
    • All of the above

What You Can Do:

  • Keep the plants and vegetation surrounding your home trimmed especially near windows and doors
    • This will help decrease any potential hiding spots for criminals
  • Don’t leave spare keys out, or keep them fully concealed and secure (maybe in a coded or locked location)
    • Prevents an intruder from easily entering your home
    • Leaving a key with a neighbor is a better option as you don’t have to worry about losing a key outside or who might find it
  • Light your driveway, perimeter, and entries; use automatic timers
    • Intruders are less likely to attempt a break-in at a well-lit property
    • Automatic timers can be set to go off even when you’re not home
    • With home automation you can turn your interior lights on and off while you’re away vs having to leave lights on until you get home; a light left on for too long will tip off burglars that you’re not really home, especially if they’ve been watching your home
  • Don’t leave valuables lying around your home
    • This includes jewelry, irreplaceable items, cash, small or moveable safes that house other precious objects or documents
  • Make sure your fire alarms and carbon/smoke detectors have batteries and are working properly
    • This will ensure you and your family will be properly warned in the event of an emergency, helping to prevent catastrophic loss and damage
  • Routinely inspect your door and window locks, and make sure they are locked
    • Locking your doors and windows may seem obvious, but many homeowners don’t do it because they live in a “safe” neighborhood. Don’t be fooled, anyone is susceptible to crime, the difference is how you are prepared for it.
  • Occasionally walk the perimeter of your home
    • It’s simple, but it will make you aware of any potential weaknesses and/or damage to your home
  • Hire a professional to install a comprehensive security system with alarm monitoring
    • They will perform an in depth inspection of your home’s interior and exterior
    • You will have a system that is customized to the specific needs of your home
    • You will rest easy knowing that your windows and doors have sensors, cameras are recording and deterring what is happening inside/outdoors
    • Your fire and burglar alarms are set to alert the authorities the instant something happens
    • You can access different features, including lighting, through home automation services

While you can certainly perform routine checks of your property, to fully secure your home, hire a professional.  An expert will pick up on things you may not notice and you’ll get unbeatable protection for your home and family.  If you are located in Northern or Central New Jersey, do not hesitate to call on our professionals at Perfect Connections Inc. to find out more about residential security systems.  We have been providing expert residential security services for over 25 years, and we are dedicated to understanding your specific needs.

If you live 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.

For other helpful tips, check out these sites:

Safewise.com-Thieves Offer Home Security Tips

Safewise.com-Self Evaluate

Image Credit: Image by Insomnia Cured Here-Flickr-Creative Commons

The Internet Of Things

Jonathan Briggs-Network CableOur world is constantly changing and evolving. Progression is an inevitable force that influences the way we live our daily lives. This is especially true of advancements made in the techy devices we interact with on a daily basis. Everything from our smartphones to our security systems. It’s the manner in how we interact with all of these devices that is driving innovation and product design. The internet and networking of devices is creating a connected environment that offers ultimate convenience and changes how we perceive the potential of security systems.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators provide comprehensive security systems to businesses and homes throughout northern and central New Jersey. We believe in installing quality systems that are in line with the best technological advancements the market has to offer. This doesn’t mean we use the trendiest devices for the sake of being “trendy,” it means evaluating current products that will add value and provide a platform for future adaptation. With the Internet of Things (IoT) it’s imperative to implement devices that are not only relevant but can stand the test of time, within reason.

The definition of the IoT can be summed up as, “the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing internet infrastructure without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” This means devices that are able to “talk” to one another via an internet connection without third part interference. An example would be a motion detector that automatically uploads a video clip to an authorized smartphone when it senses movement. The IoT is influencing changes in security system components like video cameras, access controls, recording equipment, fire and burglar alarms, locks, and monitoring services. The devices themselves are evolving but so is the manner in which end users and system operators interact with them.

A higher level of remote connectivity to security systems and their components is a result of the IoT. End-users can now login to security systems and their devices via an app on their mobile device. This would allow the business owner who is away on vacation to periodically check-in on the day-to-day by logging into their surveillance system on their smartphone. The homeowner who forgot to lock their doors and arm their system can now do so remotely via a mobile device or computer. Automated notifications can be setup to send an alert when an alarm is triggered, someone tries to gain entry without proper access credentials, when a camera or motion detector capture movement within their range; the possibilities are extensive and continue to be developed.

According to Steve Hausman, president of Hausman Technology Keynotes, we are still at the beginning of the “IoT revolution.” Some research suggest by the year 2020 there will be over 30 billion wirelessly connected devices in operation. With everything becoming more and more connected one has to wonder, what are the risks? In this highly connected world, there is a plethora of data being recorded, stored, and shared but who has access and rights to this data? Therein lies the problem.

As with anything connected to the internet, the risk of being hacked or stolen is inherent. In the security world this would be a problem for IP cameras, cloud storage and recording solutions, networked access controls, and basically anything running on or connected to an internet network. With that in mind, industry professionals and developers are continuously working on solutions to prevent and minimize vulnerability.

Hausman says, “Security standards need to be established and enforced at the design and manufacturing levels. As the IoT evolves, we can also expect that society will not only adapt to its usefulness but come to expect that appropriate safeguards be implemented to ensure both privacy and security.” Today, those “safeguards” are being provided by licensed security integrators who understand the risks associated with system automation and the IoT. Often times this means strong encryptions for not only the network, but the connected devices as well.

The IoT isn’t something that’s going to disappear. Its presence in the security industry will continue to shape the way manufacturers develop products and how they are implemented by security integrators. As licensed professionals our integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. provide comprehensive security system solutions to businesses and homes throughout northern and central New Jersey, and have been doing so for over 25 years. Our team has witnessed decades of advancements in the industry. We realize it is our duty to continue our own education as well as offer knowledge to our customers when implementing new technologies and component counterparts.

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 Jonathan Briggs-Flickr-Creative Commons

It’s Time To Upgrade Your Old System

Old Tech-Steve JurvetsonMaybe you’ve had a home security system installed years ago or perhaps you recently moved into a new home with an existing alarm system.  Whatever the case, how can you tell if your home security system is still valid?  There are some tell-tale signs that you may be dealing with an antiquated system.  However, if you have a security system and are concerned it’s not as relevant as it once was, it’s time to upgrade your system. The first thing you should do is contact your security system provider for an assessment.  As a security systems expert, our professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of maintaining a functional security system and keeping up with advancing technologies.  Our team of professionals have been providing comprehensive and customized home security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We can help assess the validity of your alarm system and offer solutions specific to your security needs.

Maintaining an effective alarm system isn’t just about running annual tests, it’s making sure it progresses as you, your home, and technology press forward.  It’s not like buying the newest IPhone just to keep up with trends, it’s making sure the technology you’ve invested in is providing the best protection.  If you’ve had a security system for a while and can’t remember the last time the software was updated, or if updating isn’t even an option it might be time for an upgrade.  Outdated software may leave you susceptible to hacking and viruses, plus you may not be getting the most out of your system.  You don’t want to pay for a system that’s subpar right?

Another sign it might be time for an assessment or system upgrade is the dependence on a singular keypad for control.  In today’s fast-paced world we often have the need for convenience.  Is it convenient to have to drive home from work because you forgot to arm your security system?  Is it convenient to have to make it to the security keypad to punch in your pin while your arms are chalk-full of groceries?  No, so why not look into interactive services or home automation?  With home automation you no longer have to worry about forgetting to arm or disarm your system because you can do it from your mobile device from virtually anywhere.  You could access your surveillance system through an app on your mobile device, allowing you to view what is going on real-time at home.  Other advantages to an interactive system is the ability to adjust your thermostat and lighting from afar.  As Alarm.com puts it, “Using a smartphone to manage an interactive home security system is like having a remote control for the system right in your pocket.”  This added technology will save you time, money, and lots of headaches.

How was your security system originally installed?  Was it hardwired?  While there is nothing necessarily wrong with a hardwired system it’s important to consider current technology benefits and how your system compares.  Just as our phones have become wireless many industry professionals are installing wireless security systems with cellular capabilities.  Why?  For one there’s no need to tear open walls, which is costly and laborious.  Technology has advanced to the point where wireless capabilities have become more effective and ubiquitous making them more viable, dependable, and available.  When comparing wireless to hardwired systems a noticeable difference, aside from the wires, is the continuity of service.  With a wireless system you don’t have to worry about burglars cutting wires to disable your system because there are none.

Lastly, a common sign of an antiquated security system can be low-res (low-resolution) cameras.  While cameras alone can sometimes deter an intruder from attempting a break-in, what good is a surveillance system that offers fuzzy picture quality if a break-in does occur?  The purpose of a camera is being able to record quality footage to positively identify intruders and sometimes their vehicles if need be.  Clear footage can be a helpful tool for law enforcement and in court.  Effective cameras can also be used to monitor the arrival of packages, expected and unexpected visitors, interiors and exteriors, remote properties (i.e. barns, sheds etc.), and distant areas of your property.  Fortunately there is a vast array of high-resolution cameras available today.  Your security system company will be able to provide the best solutions for your specific needs.

Whether you’re unsure your current security system is functioning optimally or if you’re looking into home security for the first time, contact a specialist.  They will be able to assess your current security situation and provide customized solutions.  Our team of experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing custom home security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We can help you update an outdated system and offer comprehensive systems for new installations.

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 Steve Jurvetson-Flickr-Creative Commons

How Smart Is Your Home?

Home Automation Image-PC websiteWhen it comes to home security systems, you may have heard the phrase “interactive services.” You may have even heard the terms “home automation,” “connected home,” and “smart house.” What do they all mean, and how are they related to home security? They’re meanings are essentially the same, and in relation to security, they describe the ability to remotely interact with, and access, devices in your home by means of a mobile device or computer. If you have a comprehensive home security system, you likely have cameras, motion detectors, door and window sensors, fire and carbon monoxide detectors that communicate with a central control panel located in your home. Being able to connect and interact with these security features from a remote location is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. Cameras and motion detectors aren’t the only devices you can access from afar. Imagine being able to adjust the temperature in your home before you get there, or turning lights on and off, even opening or closing your garage door. In partnering with Alarm.com, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing these interactive service options to homes in Central and Northern New Jersey for years. Our team of licensed professionals can help you customize a security system that will connect you to the inner, and sometimes outer, workings of your home.

How Does It Work?

First, you have a home security system installed with all of the sensors, cameras, and detectors that you and your security systems specialist customized. In order to access the full functions of your remote services you must have an interactive service plan with a company like Alarm.com. After that, you simply download their app on your tablet, smartphone, computer, or other mobile device, and you’ll have total home control at the tips of your fingers.

There are basically two ways a home can become “connected.” Wireless or hardwired. The trends of our progressive society tend to make everything more technological, therefore, many security systems are being installed wirelessly with cellular backup. This eliminates the need to cut holes in walls and have dangling or exposed wires. Wireless technology is particularly favorable if you own an older home where breaking open walls isn’t an option. The same technology that works for our cellphones and Bluetooth devices can now be implemented in the home. More and more homeowners are leaving landlines in the past and switching to cellular devices anyway, making the connected home a smoother integration. A hardwired system does required cabling, however, it has been in use for a longer period of time, and proven to work. Some home automation systems use a combination of both wireless and hardwired technologies. To determine what type of system is right for your home, hiring a professional to perform a full assessment is your best bet.

What Are The Capabilities?

Home Automation-from our websiteDepending on how many, and what kind of devices are connected to your system, your operating choices are seemingly endless. By using the mobile app, you can gain access to the security cameras inside and outside your home to see what is happening throughout the day. Certain motion detectors can be set up to send you snap shots of specific areas and activity in your home. Your system can be set up to notify you when you kids arrive home from school, if you’re not able to be there. The ability to adjust your thermostat and turn lights on and off is a common feature. Check-in on loved ones and/or pets throughout the day. Having interactive services as part of your comprehensive security system will alert local authorities to any disturbances at your home while simultaneously alerting you on your mobile device.

Why Is It Beneficial?

Controlling and accessing various devices in your or a loved one’s home is advantageous for a multitude of reasons. One of the most obvious benefits is that it provides peace of mind on a constant basis, knowing you’ll instantly be notified of what matters most to you. Being able to remotely adjust your thermostat and turn lights on and off will lower your utilities bill and inadvertently help you waste less energy. Remote access is extremely convenient, you have control in the palm of your hand at all times, as long as your device is charged. Having remote capabilities will save you time by not having to rush home last minute to adjust appliances or unlock doors for pet sitters, family members, or scheduled visitors. With services provided by Alarm.com alerts and access don’t have to stop even when your system is unarmed. The functions of your home become more efficient.

Utilizing a connected home system is a great way to help your loved ones maintain their independence, but also ensure their safety. Specific features allow you to make sure a family member is moving throughout the day, not leaving potentially dangerous appliances on, and you can activate or deactivate their alarm system for them if they forget. Maybe a family member uses an emergency response pendant (like Life Alert) which requires them to take action. But what if they can’t? Services provided by Alarm.com simplify their life and yours by not requiring personal action in case of an emergency. It’s a non-invasive approach to protect your family.

Whether you’re considering the Connected Home for the first time or it has been on your to do list for a while, don’t hesitate, contact the security professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. for an in home assessment. Our team knows the safety of your home is paramount in the protection of your family. We have been providing service to Northern and Central New Jersey for decades, so you can be confident in our security knowledge and expertise.

If you live 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.

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 25 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 are 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

IT Security Tips For Your Alarm System

For those who own alarm systems, whether they are video surveillance, access control, burglary, or fire protection, our systems watch over us and protect us around the clock.

But in today’s day and age, just about everything is connected to the internet. In many cases, this includes our alarm system. And like any device that is connected to the internet, if not taken care of properly, it can be at risk of attack from hackers.

“Attackers used an army of hijacked security cameras and video recorders to launch several massive internet attacks” said a recent news piece by the Wall Street Journal. Many times, these cameras were infected by pre-compromised routers that already existed.

Here are some tips about how to protect your alarm system as well

Router security:
We recommend using WPA2 security for your router. Most routers, unless they are fairly old, are capable of this type of security. For more information on this, check out your router’s brand’s website – Belkin, Linksys, and Netgear are common brands.

Firmware updates: It is very important that any device that connects to the internet, from thermostats to alarm systems to routers to televisions to computers, always has the most up to date firmware. Each device’s manual or website will have instructions on how to do those, and if there is a phone application that interfaces with the device, you can often do it through the application.

Password protection: Many devices come with generic user names and passwords. These are easy targets for hackers. Make sure you change any default passwords, and try not to use the same password on multiple devices. It is most important that this is done on the router.

New hardware:
According to Kenneth White, a security researcher and director of the Open Crypto Audit Project, “If the company that made your [device] isn’t selling that model anymore or offering security updates, that’s a good sign for you to throw it in the trash.”

Home Vulnerability Test

Dorothy-Insomnia Cured Here“There is no place like home.” — L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1))

Isn’t that the truth?  There truly is no place like home.  It’s your place of comfort, family congregations, entertainment, and life.  With any home there are weak spots that open you up to potential threats.  Maybe you already know this because you’ve hired a professional to assess your security needs, and you now have a comprehensive security system installed.  Whether or not you have sought professional service to protect your home, there are things you can check/do to make sure you’re properly deterring potential threats.  Providing residential security systems solutions to Northern and Central New Jersey for the past 25 years, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. can offer insight on how to better protect your home.  Check out the following tips for a safer home.

Knowing Your Weaknesses:

  • High or untrimmed shrubbery/vegetation surrounding your home
    • Creates convenient hiding spots for criminals
  • Leaving spare keys throughout your property-you know the typical “it’s under the matt” approach
    • Makes it easier for burglars/thieves to get into your home
  • Poorly lit driveways and home entries
    • Allows a criminal to go undetected/conceals them better
  • Leaving valuable items in plain sight
    • Gives a burglar more incentive to break-in
  • Out of date or dysfunctional fire alarms and carbon/smoke monoxide detectors
    • Leaves you and your family inadequately protected in the event of an emergency
  • Broken or weak door and window locks
    • Provides easier access to your home
  • Not having a home security system
    • All of the above

What You Can Do:

  • Keep the plants and vegetation surrounding your home trimmed especially near windows and doors
    • This will help decrease any potential hiding spots for criminals
  • Don’t leave spare keys out, or keep them fully concealed and secure (maybe in a coded or locked location)
    • Prevents an intruder from easily entering your home
    • Leaving a key with a neighbor is a better option as you don’t have to worry about losing a key outside or who might find it
  • Light your driveway, perimeter, and entries; use automatic timers
    • Intruders are less likely to attempt a break-in at a well-lit property
    • Automatic timers can be set to go off even when you’re not home
    • With home automation you can turn your interior lights on and off while you’re away vs having to leave lights on until you get home; a light left on for too long will tipoff burglars that you’re not really home, especially if they’ve been watching your home
  • Don’t leave valuables lying around your home
    • This includes jewelry, irreplaceable items, cash, small or moveable safes that house other precious objects or documents
  • Make sure your fire alarms and carbon/smoke detectors have batteries and are working properly
    • This will ensure you and your family will be properly warned in the event of an emergency, helping to prevent catastrophic loss and damage
  • Routinely inspect your door and window locks, and make sure they are locked
    • Locking your doors and windows may seem obvious, but many homeowners don’t do it because they live in a “safe” neighborhood. Don’t be fooled, anyone is susceptible to crime, the difference is how you are prepared for it.
  • Occasionally walk the perimeter of your home
    • It’s simple, but it will make you aware of any potential weaknesses and/or damage to your home
  • Hire a professional to install a comprehensive security system with alarm monitoring
    • They will perform an in depth inspection of your home’s interior and exterior
    • You will have a system that is customized to the specific needs of your home
    • You will rest easy knowing that your windows and doors have sensors, cameras are recording and deterring what is happening inside/outdoors
    • Your fire and burglar alarms are set to alert the authorities the instant something happens
    • You can access different features, including lighting, through home automation services

While you can certainly perform routine checks of your property, to fully secure your home, hire a professional.  An expert will pick up on things you may not notice and you’ll get unbeatable protection for your home and family.  If you are located in Northern or Central New Jersey, do not hesitate to call on our professionals at Perfect Connections Inc. to find out more about residential security systems.  We have been providing expert residential security services for over 20 years, and we are dedicated to understanding your specific needs.

If you live 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.

For other helpful tips, check out these sites:

Safewise.com-Thieves Offer Home Security Tips

Safewise.com-Self Evaluate

Image Credit: Image by Insomnia Cured Here-Flickr-Creative Commons

How Can A Smart Home Help You?

The Jetsons-Mark AndersonWith advancing technology becoming more and more present in our daily lives, it’s no wonder it’s becoming part of our homes too.  From solar panels on our roofs to remotely controlled thermostats, we are creating homes akin to the Jetson’s space age abode.  Unlike the Jestson’s most of us still live in homes on the ground without robot housekeepers and flying cars.

Whether or not technology is pushing us towards zero-gravity transportation, one thing is for sure, our homes are advancing with us.  Look how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.  Starting with the inception of the internet around 1962, we’ve gone from the most simplistic data sharing capabilities to now virtually living online.  We can take the internet with us on our phones, tablets, laptops, and other wireless devices; it’s an integral part of our communication systems.  It only makes sense that our physical living spaces are becoming more connected to our mobile lives.

So what does it mean to have a connected home or home automation?  It’s being able to wirelessly control devices in and around your home from virtually anywhere in the world via a mobile device (i.e. a smartphone, tablet, etc.).  You know that feeling of, “I think I forgot something”?  That gut wrenching sensation can be a thing of the past when you include home automation as part of your security system.  With home automation or interactive services you no longer have to worry whether or not you forgot to lock your doors or arm the alarm system because you can do it from your phone. You can even check in on your kids, pets, and loved ones by logging into your home security cameras through an app.  The capabilities are seemingly endless and the technology behind home automation is only moving forward. Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe in providing superior home security systems that can include sophisticated, yet easy to use, home automation features.  Our team of experts has been providing home security system solutions to central and northern New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We understand the value in having a connected home, do you?

Convenience

Picture this, you’re coming back from a long vacation, somewhere tropical of course.  You’re in the car on the way home from the airport, the cool crisp air of winter in New Jersey lingering on your cheeks.  Then it hits you.  Your home is in New Jersey, its winter, and you turned the heat way down before you left.  Looks like you’re going to be wearing your coat and galoshes around the house until it heats up.  The frustration is setting in when you realize, “I can turn up the heat from my phone!”(cue the idea light-bulb).bulb_idea You log into your mobile app and swiftly adjust your thermostat to a comfortable temperature.  By the time you get home it’s warm and cozy, no need to stay bundled up.

Being able to adjust your home climate from afar is just one of the many conveniences home automation provides.  You can lock and unlock doors, open/close garages, turn lights on and off, log into your security cameras to see what is going on at your house, and arm or disarm your alarm system.  With a firm understanding of how your home automation works, you can program notifications and optimize different features of your home and security system.

Savings

Aside from being a convenient addition to your everyday life, home automation can actually save you money.  Think about your utilities, one of the major money-drainers is electrical use.  With programmable lights and the ability to turn them on and off remotely, wasting electricity becomes a thing of the past.  The largest portion of your utilities likely comes from heating and cooling your home.  Being able to program your thermostats can be a huge saver in energy costs throughout the course of a year.  Never mind the fact that you’d be enhancing your homes overall efficiency.

Environmental impact

When it comes to wasting energy, the U.S. is unfortunately no stranger to inefficiency.  According to Forbes.com America ranks number one among developed nations, even ahead of China, for energy waste.  Energy inefficiencies impact not only our environment, but our economic status as well.  In fact low energy productivity in the United States is estimated to cost businesses and households an estimated $130 billion annually.  While home automation may seem like a small piece of the energy-efficiency pie, imagine if every home could cut their waste even by a small percentage; the impact would be substantial.

Peace of mind

Yes, home automation can save you money.  Yes, it can increase your home’s efficiency.  Yes, it gives you the capability to monitor your alarm system from afar.  Yes, it saves you time and aggravation.  The best side effect is one that can’t be measured by the money in your bank account or the bottom line on your utilities bill.  It’s the peace of mind you gain.  That feeling of knowing your kids are home safe from school because you were able to see them arrive.  Knowing that your home and valuables are safe while you’re on vacation.  Receiving customized notifications that are specific to your needs and schedule.  You can’t achieve the same peace of mind from a security system alone, no matter how sophisticated.

Whether you’re in the market for your first security system or want to add home automation to an existing setup, don’t hesitate to call on our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc..  Our specialists have been providing comprehensive security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We customize security solutions to fit specific needs unique to your home.

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 Credits: Image #1 (Jetsons) by Mark Anderson-Flickr-Creative Commons