Complete Security Systems

CCTV-Wikipedia ImageIn an unpredictable world, one thing is certain, we all want to protect what’s ours.  Whether you’re a business owner or a homeowner, you want to keep safe that which you’ve worked so hard for.  One of the most effective ways to do that is to install a security system.  Well, what exactly is a security system and what makes it a complete security system? Security can be defined as, “the state of being protected or safe from harm,” and system can be defined as, “a group of related parts that move or work together.”  A security system is an assemblage of equipment that helps prevent imminent danger or damage.

As a licensed security systems provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been helping protect homes and businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We believe that complete security systems should not only be a group of working parts, but that it should be comprehensive.  Comprehensive can be defined as, “complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.”  After decades of installing security equipment we’ve found that a truly comprehensive security system should include some form of access control, fire and burglar alarms, surveillance, and a monitoring service.

Access control is the means by which you limit admission to a specific point of entry.  It’s essentially your first line of defense against unauthorized entrants.  Probably the most conventional form of access control is a standard lock and key.  Today, the lock and key method is either being eliminated or used as a backup to more technologically advanced controls.  Traditional keys when lost or stolen can be easily replicated whereas using readers, fobs (tokens), and sometimes biometrics in combination with a password are more concrete and less susceptible to duplication.

Card and proximity readers are typically placed next to a point of entry and a fob or card that is programmed with the appropriate credentials is used.  The card or fob is either tapped or swiped on or near the reader to gain access. The benefit to using a swipe card or fob is if they are lost or stolen they can be deactivated in the operating system whereas you can’t deactivate a physical key unless you change out the entire lock.  Biometrics, which uses physical credentials like a fingerprint, is similar in the sense that access information isn’t as easily stolen or duplicated.  This type of access control isn’t as widely used today because they tend to be more complex and costly.  However, as technology progresses we may see a rise in biometric applications.

Fire and burglar alarms are critical alerts in potentially life-threatening situations.  Fire and burglary can strike at any given time without warning, wreaking havoc on your business or home.  With burglary occurring every 14.6 seconds and national fire departments responding to an estimated 1,240,000 fires a year (2013), it’s critical to the safety and security of any home or business to implement preventative measures.  Physical structural damage and property loss incurred by a fire or burglary is only part of the aftermath, the emotional and psychological damage is even harder to repair.

In conjunction with burglar alarms and access control, surveillance is essential.  When installed correctly surveillance equipment is not only a helpful crime deterrent, but a useful tool in solving crime.  In the wake of IP (Internet Protocol) and wireless technology, surveillance equipment is no longer limited to hardwired installations.  This increases scalability, flexibility, and ease of installation.  It also helps reduce the cost of installation by not having to pull as much cabling through walls.  Another benefit to having a surveillance system is the potential capability to access footage remotely.  With a plethora of mobile apps at your disposal, you can access your surveillance system to see what is going on at your facility or home when you can’t be there.  Being able to remotely access your security cameras adds a layer of monitoring and convenience that, up until recently, wasn’t widely used or available.

Lastly to complete the effectiveness of a security system you should have an alarm monitoring service.  Without a monitoring service who is going to respond to an active alarm?  If you’re lucky someone nearby will call the authorities, that’s assuming someone is actually near your facility or residence when the alarm goes off.  An alarm monitor can help save you, your family, or your business from potential disaster by decreasing the response time from local authorities and emergency responders.  When an alarm is triggered the monitoring station is instantly notified; they typically try to contact you first, and if they don’t get a response within a given amount of time authorities and emergency crews are dispatched.  This is a particularly beneficial service in the event that you’re out of town or unable to respond in an emergency.  Having an alarm monitoring service can mean the difference between catastrophe and a manageable situation.

A security system is so much more than the equipment that comprises it.  It helps provide protection and life safety in a volatile world. Remember, a system is only as effective as the parts that comprise it.  For a security system to be comprehensive it should include fire and burglar alarms, access control, surveillance, and a monitoring service, at least.  As a security systems expert, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to homes and businesses in northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We understand the importance of mitigating the unpredictable and what it takes to do so.

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 KRoock74-Google-Creative Commons

Upgrading An Old Security 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 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

Can I Keep My Camera System On My Office Network?

Network-Norlando PobreWhether you are installing a new surveillance system or changing an existing one you need to consider the type of system and the operating implications associated with it.  The desire for advanced image quality, video analytics, ease of integration, and remote access has ushered in the era of IP (Internet Protocol) surveillance systems.  IP surveillance systems have opened the door to a more integrated security system and they provide increased scalability which is important to company growth and future adaptation.  This type of surveillance system typically relies on an internet network, and as they say “therein lies the rub.”

Should your surveillance system operate on the same internet network as your office computers?  The answer is not a simple yes or no.  The short answer being it certainly is a viable option, but it could depend on the size and type of business you run.  It’s also possible to set up an IP surveillance system on its own network but it may not be cost effective or necessary.  For these reasons it is imperative to consult a licensed security system professional when altering or adding a surveillance system.

When it comes to a company’s network there seems to be some trepidation about how and what devices can and should be allowed on it.  It’s understandable, a company’s network is often a basis for its everyday functions, but where does the worry come from?  A lot of it usually has to do with a communication gap between security integrators and IT professionals or end users.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed experts are able to provide clear and understandable information about the surveillance equipment we implement and how it will affect your company’s network.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Our team has witnessed and been a part of the migration from mainly analog surveillance to IP.

Let’s discover the common concerns about network devices and how they can be dissolved, but first we’ll review some quick terminology when talking about networks.  LAN, MAN, and WAN are three basic types of networks you’ll likely hear about from integrators and IT professionals.  Local area networks (LANs) are typically found at most small to medium sized businesses as they cover a smaller more specific area.  In all likelihood your company operates on a LAN network.  Metropolitan area networks (MANs) cover a larger area and are usually present in cities and across large campuses.  Wide Area Networks (WANs) provide the most coverage, anything from expansive distances to the whole world.  According to Fredrik Nilsson, general manager for Axis Communications in North America, WANs are often comprised of multiple smaller networks including LANs and MANs.

All networks are comprised of some sort of cabling and equipment such as switches, servers, and hubs.  The most popular type of network configuration used with LANs is called star.  A star configuration allows all network devices to be connected to a central point where if one device crashes the rest will remain in operation.  However, redundancies are typically incorporated to account for the possibility of a central station crash.

Now that terminology is out of the way, what are some of the major concerns one might have when adding surveillance equipment to a company network?  One of the most common is bandwidth consumption.  This often stems from companies that have had to deal with employees streaming or downloading videos via company networks which eats into the available bandwidth.  According to James Marcella, director of technical services for Axis Communications, IP surveillance equipment is wrongly accused when it comes to bandwidth consumption.  He says most IP cameras today can be customized to fit a company’s network and storage guidelines.  To help limit their consumption surveillance can be setup on a Virtual LANs (VLANs) which Marcella says, “prevents video traffic from grabbing the lion’s share of bandwidth.”

Then there’s the ever-present question, “what about hacking?”  In our world where virtually everything is connected through the IoT (Internet of Things), it’s hard not to worry about who can access private information and how that information is being protected.  Having surveillance equipment on the same network as your company computers may seem scary, but in reality, more oft than not, there are procedures in place to prevent hacker access.

When it comes to adding network devices and keeping the network safe authentication protocol and data encryption are key.  According to Marcella authentication protocol protects the network at the physical port level.  If someone were to unplug a network camera and try to plug in their own device, all “traffic” to that port’s switch would automatically be shut down as the foreign device wouldn’t have the proper authorization.  Data encryption is essentially creating a password to your network whether it’s wired or wireless.  This prevents someone from getting into your network or freeloading on your company’s internet.  Encryptions can be highly effective as long as they are not something obvious or easily guessed.

Lastly, network storage is a top concern.  This is often directly linked to bandwidth consumption concerns.  Due to high image quality of IP camera recordings it’s not uncommon for businesses to store video footage for longer periods of time.  Fortunately, with IP surveillance systems you don’t necessarily have to store recordings directly on the network.  For smaller installations there is the option to utilize in-camera storage through internal SD cards (Secure Digital Cards).  Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and cloud-based systems are other viable options.  In order to determine which method is best for your company an evaluation of camera quantity and storage needs should be conducted.

Whether you are adding a new surveillance system or updating an existing one it’s imperative to consider the impact it will have on your company’s network, if any at all.  Always consult a licensed security system professional as they can help guide you or your IT department through the process from initial assessment to final installation.  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 can help break down the communication barrier that sometimes creates apprehension when installing network devices.

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 Norlando Pobre-Flickr-Creative Commons

How Does an Internet Outage Affect Security?

No Internet-Marcelo GraciolliDoes your security system, or part of it, rely on your company’s internet network? Or are you considering a system that is at least partially dependent on network connectivity? If so, what happens if that network fails or is compromised? Fortunately nowadays the chances of your network dropping or losing connection is pretty slim, in fact the probability of most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) experiencing an outage is about 1%. But in the rare case that it does become inactive there are methods to keep security features active, in particular network attached surveillance or IP (Internet Protocol) cameras. Maintaining an operating surveillance system is crucial to the overall effectiveness of a comprehensive security system. Surveillance footage can aid in police investigations and the mere presence of cameras can help deter criminals. Fortunately there are methods of streaming and recording footage even when your local area network (LAN) is down.

Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of security system continuity and one that functions with minimal incident. We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years. We specialize in surveillance systems, fire and burglar alarms, and access control solutions. There is no perfect system, but by installing redundancies and planning with prevention in mind, system issues will be few and far between.

Traditionally recorded surveillance footage would be stored on an external digital video recorder (DVR), but thanks to progressing technology and the desire to streamline everything, virtual and network storage options are becoming more popular. The cloud is becoming a popular virtual storage method that is cost effective and has seemingly limitless real estate. To find out more about the cloud, check out our post here. Whether you’re using the cloud or an external device like a DVR, it’s not a bad idea to have a back-up in the unlikely event your network goes down. Two common types of redundancies are Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and SD memory cards.

NAS devices are installed on the same network as your security cameras. If your network were to suddenly go out or someone accidentally caused and outage, the NAS would continue recording. If you were using the cloud as your main storage and the network drops, the NAS device could be setup to automatically upload recorded data to the cloud once the network is repaired. It’s also a cost effective method as multiple network cameras can be setup to stream to the same NAS device.

SD memory cards are exactly what they sound like. They’re storage cards within the actual camera, essentially the same as memory cards used in digital cameras and other devices. This type of technology is also sometimes referred to as “edge storage.” SD cards are typically programmed one of two ways. Either they are constantly recording regardless of the network status, or they are programmed to kick-in when network connection is lost. According to Fredrik Nilsson, General Manager of the Americas for Axis Communications, using SD cards as a redundancy works best in smaller applications where there are minimal cameras. The main reason being they cost more per gigabyte of storage in comparison to NAS devices that can accommodate multiple cameras on a single device.

While the likelihood of your network failing or dropping out is pretty low it’s always best to plan for the worst case scenario. There is no perfect security system, but there are measures that can be implemented to ensure coverage when you need it most. When it comes to surveillance it’s imperative to have continuity, therefore it couldn’t hurt to have redundancies installed when using network cameras. NAS devices and SD memory cards are two effective back-up storage methods that will help retain critical information that can later be accessed if need be. To find out which type of backup is best for your facility always consult a licensed security system integrator. Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992. We understand no two businesses are exactly the same and that they should be treated with an individualized approach that suits their specific needs.

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 Marcelo Graciolli-Flickr-Creative Commons

What Is A Smart 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.

Wired Or Wireless?

Wires-Windell OskayThe process of researching home security systems can seem daunting. There are many factors you must take into consideration. You have to choose which company you trust to perform the work, how much you’re willing to spend, and what type of system to have installed, to name a few. The type of system you opt for can seem like a tricky decision, that’s why it is imperative to hire a licensed security professional to advise you on the best solution for your home. There are two types of systems in terms of how they are installed, hardwired and wireless. Sometimes a combination of both are implemented, it really depends on your specific needs. Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we provide security system solutions to Northern and Central New Jersey, and can assess an individual homeowners needs for either a hardwired or wireless installation.

According to safewise.com, “The network of sensors, plus the control panel, make up a self-contained system that may be wired or wireless.” So what’s the difference between hardwired and wireless? A hardwired system involves installing physical wires from the various alarm components (i.e. motion detectors, sensors, etc) to the central control panel. The wires are typically hidden behind walls, which is why it’s beneficial to install this type of system in the construction phase of a home, if possible. According to asecurelife.com, “most older home alarm systems rely on hard wiring where most new systems are gravitating towards wireless or hybrid alarm systems.”

A wireless system relies on radio frequencies to transmit and receive signals between the alarm devices and the control panel; kind of like how a cell phone works. In fact, one of the major benefits of a wireless system is you have the ability to remotely control different aspects of your home via your mobile phone/device. A hardwired system may require a landline to communicate with the monitoring service, whereas a wireless system doesn’t. In this day and age, many homeowners are moving away from landlines all together, making a wireless system almost an indisputable choice. An interesting article about the seaside New Jersey town of Mantokoling describes how the phone lines destroyed by Hurricane Sandy were not rebuilt at all. Instead a wireless option was offered by Verizon. Whether by choice or natural causes, wireless technology seems to be the trend of the future.

While the decision between wireless or hardwired might seem difficult, a specialist will be able to help you figure it out, and in some cases you may not have to choose; it might be dictated by the structure of your home or the area you live in. Hiring an expert will not only save you time and aggravation, but provide you with a peace of mind knowing your system is appropriate for your home and that it was installed correctly. If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey, don’t hesitate to contact our team of licensed professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc.. We’ve been providing residential security systems services for the past 22 years. Our team is knowledgeable about the systems we install and the ever changing technology in the security systems industry.

Check out this brief list of the pros and cons of hardwired and wireless systems:

Hardwired Security System

Pros:

  • It’s a reliable system
  • Can be integrated seamlessly with new construction projects
  • They typically have backup batteries in case of power outages
  • Hardwired systems are less susceptible to electrical interferences from other devices
  • Alarm will sound if any wiring is cut
  • Will likely be installed by a licensed professional ensuring smoother integration

Cons:

  • Can sometimes be more expensive
  • May require tougher installation (drilling holes in walls etc.)
  • Makes relocation of system devices more difficult
  • Typically have longer more intensive installation
  • Can’t bring the system with you when/if you move

Wireless Security System

Pros:

  • Installation is fairly easy and quick
  • Devices can easily be moved, replaced, or updated
  • Can control parts of your home remotely from your mobile device (thermostats, lighting, etc.)
  • System maintenance is typically easy, in most cases systems will require battery replacement
  • Device software can be updated as it evolves
  • May be a more economical system
  • Devices are portable, making moving less of an issue

Cons:

  • Can sometimes be interfered with by exterior electronic devices (baby monitors, microwaves etc.)
  • Can sometimes be more susceptible to interference than a hardwired system
  • Technology evolves quickly making installed devices obsolete quicker
  • Devices can sometimes have sensory issues
  • Structural interferences can be an issue (brick walls, old construction etc.)

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.

Image Credits: Image by Winell Oskay-Flickr-Creative Commons

Wireless Locks For Your Home

Alan Cleaver-Key in doorLast week in our blog, we wrote about how your cell phone could be your key at your business. Now, we’d like to tell you how it could work for your home too!

The days of struggling to carry 50 pounds of groceries while simultaneously trying to dig your house keys out of your pocket or purse, might be coming to an end. As a homeowner your door locks have always been an essential line of defense when it comes to protecting your home. While our everyday lives are saturated with technological advancement, it only makes sense that our physical structures should follow suit. That being said, using a key to unlock your doors may be a thing of the past with wireless access control on the rise.

What is wireless access control? Essentially, wireless access control in a residential setting means replacing the standard lock and key with a keypad, remote control, biometric reader, card reader, or Wi-Fi access. Keys are no longer the only method for unlocking your doors, in fact, they become the back-up. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our team of licensed experts have been providing comprehensive security solutions to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992. We stay in touch with current technologies and how they might benefit our customers. Protecting entrances is key (no pun intended) to the safety and security of any home, and we aim to provide the best solutions to each individual residence.

How does a wireless lock work? Most traditional locks operate on some form of a “pin and tumbler” method. This is when the serrated edge of an inserted key moves pins on the interior of the lock a certain distance allowing you turn the lock cylinder and open the door. With a wireless lock (which typically operates on electricity or battery power) has “actuators,” which connect the cylinder or bolt to a motor within the door or frame. The motor is electrically activated by a keypad, card reader, or wireless remote controller. On top of that there are locks that work on Wi-Fi signals used in conjunction with your smartphone or mobile device, sometimes referred to as smart or automated locks. Lastly, biometrics are sometimes used to control home access. Typically a fingerprint or hand print is the credential required for such a system.

There are many advantages to a wireless locking system. For one, you never have to worry about losing or forgetting your keys. This eliminates having to leave spare keys outside or giving them to people who need access to your home. Instead of using a key you can, depending on the type of wireless lock, give your visitor the access code or with an automated system you can unlock the door from your smartphone. With a wireless lock there are no wires. Typically this means an easier and seamless installation. It’s a technology that would allow for a more ubiquitous integration that includes old and new construction homes. Wireless locks offer a convenience and extra layer of security you can’t get from a standard door lock.

While there are multiple benefits to a wireless locking system, none of them are perfect. With a regular lock you might lose your keys, with a wireless keypad lock you could forget your access code or the code could be hacked by a savvy burglar. Fortunately, if you forget your code many keypad locks come with a physical key as a backup. As for code hacking, it’s usually best practice to pick a random code, so don’t use a birthday or something easily guessed. It’s also prudent- and some systems may require it anyway-to change the code every few months or after you’ve let an outsider use it.

The main drawback with a remote controlled lock is, just as with keys, you could lose the remote. Unlike keys, a remote is usually programed by a computer. Therefore, in the event that you lose the remote you can deactivate it from the convenience of a computer. With a smart or automated lock you run into the issue of not always having a reliable Wi-Fi signal. Then there’s the dreaded question of what happens when the power goes out? As some of the wireless locks run on electricity, a power outage could be an issue. However, many of these locks tend to have multiple redundancies in place including backup battery power. The main deterrent when it comes to biometric locks is the price as they tend to be a fairly complex system that isn’t as pervasive in the residential market as the other technologies.

Whether you are building a new home or want to enhance the security of your current residence, wireless locks can reinforce your first line of defense and provide a convenience you can’t obtain with conventional locks. As with any security device or installation you should always consult a licensed security systems professional, especially if you’re looking for full system integration. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our team has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years. We help you connect and protect what matters most, offering a peace of mind you can’t get from anything else.

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 Alan Cleaver-Flickr-Creative Commons

Using Cell Phones with Access Control Systems

Access-ErvinWe use our smartphones and other mobile devices for many functions in our daily lives. It’s almost impossible to go through an entire day without seeing someone tapping, scrolling, or swiping through their phone, never mind using your own phone. We’ve created a mobile environment where convenience lies in the palm of our hands.

Technological progression has taken us so far in a short amount of time; we can pay our bills on our phones, we can chat with someone a world away, we can make everyday purchases, and now they can be used as an extension of our security systems. In particular as a means of access control and authentication in commercial applications using near field communication (NFC). According to Jeremy Earles, Readers and Credentials Portfolio Manager for Allegion, NFC technology, “provides simplified transactions, data exchange and wireless connections between two devices that are in close proximity to each other…” This is essentially the same technology you may have seen advertised by Samsung where two phones can be tapped together to share information, see HERE.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our team of licensed professionals provide comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey. We have been helping a wide range of businesses secure their facilities for over 20 years. As with any technology, progression in the realm of security components shows no signs of slowing. At Perfect Connections we realize it is our responsibility to stay on top of these changes and provide our clients with solutions that are current but practical as well.

NFC technology is an exciting new venture in access control applications. However, it has yet to become as ubiquitous as traditional access controls like key fobs, swipe cards, and proximity readers. One of the many reasons being NFC technology has yet to become an innate feature in the spectrum of devices in circulation today.

In theory NFC access control would work by allowing your employees and authorized users to utilize their mobile device, likely their cellphone, as their access credential. The user’s phone would have an embedded NFC chip that would wirelessly receive an authorized credential from an administrative control. This process can be similar to how you would download an app or retrieve information stored in a cloud service; or it could be easily managed by plugging the phone into an administrative device via a USB cord. Once the phone has the proper credential it can be used in the same fashion as a fob or proximity card, simply tap the phone or be within range of a reader that will grant or deny access. Imagine the convenience!

With 5.9 billion, or 87% of the world’s population, being mobile subscribers it’s no wonder NFC technology is creating buzz among end users and security integrators alike. Of those mobile subscribers 91% keep their phone within and arm’s length throughout the day and night. It only makes sense that phones would become part of integrated security protocols. With younger generations the desire for new and streamlined processes is endless, especially for those now entering the workforce. They don’t want to be bothered with having to search through their pockets or purses for badges or fobs when their phone like an extension of their hand. While NFC technology may not be the universal method for access control yet, the case for it exists today.

One of the many benefits NFC technology offers is no longer having to print or buy new ID badges which can be costly and time consuming. It also allows you to change credentials on and as needed basis. This would be helpful if you have a contract or temp worker who needs provisional access. You would simply send or upload a temporary credential to their phone and when their job is done you can delete access from the administrative network.

According to Ron Oetjen, president of Intelligent Access Systems (IAS), NFC technology saves money by not having to replace lost or stolen card credentials. Oetjen argues that security may be even better when using smartphones than cards or fobs considering how obsessively people guard them, and the fact that in order to use it as a credential the phone first has to be unlocked using a PIN or biometric identification. So many companies already employ a BYOD (bring your own device) policy at work that the transition would be easy for the user. If a phone is lost or stolen it can be remotely tracked, disabled, and/or wiped preventing an unauthorized user from gaining access.

Like any other developing technology, NFC is not perfect and consumer perception is still evolving. Currently one of the major drawbacks is that it’s not universally integrated in mobile phones and access readers. Certain manufacturers like Apple and Google have yet to include NFC technology in their devices making the user purchase external accessories that can be bulky and unattractive. Then there are some businesses that don’t want to lose the traditional ID badge that displays a photo of the user for security reasons. The issue of existing security infrastructure can be tricky too as it may require the removal and reinstallation of new system components which adds cost.

The world of security systems is constantly evolving. This requires integrators and end users to be aware of changes that will affect and potentially enhance their systems. NFC technology is an exciting addition to the access control component of a security system that will likely become more ubiquitous in the coming years. It will provide a new level of security and convenience that has yet to be fully realized. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators are constantly educating themselves on changes in the industry and how they may benefit our clients. We provide comprehensive security systems that include access controls to businesses and facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey, and have been doing so since 1992. Our experts will help guide you through the process from an initial security assessment to final installation, implementing technologies that are not only effective but make sense for your specific situation.

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 Ervins Strauhmanis-Flickr-Creative Commons

Smart Homes and Z-Wave Technology

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 24 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, one of the main reasons being it boasts communication capabilities for more than 1,100 products from over 300 different manufacturers. 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.

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

Protect Your Alarm System As Well

Who Watches The Watchmen?System Lock-Yuri Samoilov-Creative Commons

For those who own alarm systems, whether they be 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.”