Back when we were all growing up, a sturdy padlock on the gate and a few warning signs were usually all that was needed to secure our homes from any burglars. Maybe a scary dog as well.

These days, however, padlocks have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaurs with the advent of remote-controlled gates and Rover isn’t going to do to deter someone intent on stealing your 72-inch 4K flatscreen and that top-of-the-range Renault you just bought with your last paycheck. Burglars have upgraded from the smash and grab method to the more planned out and methodical style of entering your house and making off with your valuables. This means that homeowners have had to follow suit, and we now found ourselves in the world of infra-red, wireless security cameras, laser tripwires that wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond movie, silent (and not so silent) alarm systems, just to name a few of the improvements to modern-day security systems.

Burglars are getting smarter

But for every innovation, there are always going to be weaknesses that some unsavoury character is going to look to exploit. Just invested in some wireless security cameras? Those things need a constant internet connection, which means that it can be hacked and shut down remotely. Your keycard/fingerprint recognition hardware that you use instead of a key to get indoors? Keycards can be cloned without you even noticing, and anyone who’s watched Law and Order or CSI:Major City, USA will tell you that you leave your fingerprints around more than you do your actual keys.

It’s a constant game of catch-up.

Obviously, most people take their security systems for granted, and why shouldn’t they? They have paid out good money for what they believe is a quality security system, and they don’t need to know how it works, just as long as it does. Some of them are even happy to advertise their limited knowledge to their friends and family, not realizing that sometimes, the walls really do have ears. That’s why when they get targetted, they say that the system is faulty, or that it was not installed correctly. Some even go as far as to accuse the security company of being in on the theft, without realizing that they set themselves up to be a target.

What everyone needs to consider is that burglary is no longer a crime of chance. Long gone are the days that people would break into your house and help themselves to whatever they could lay their hands on in hopes of making a few dollars to score a fix or whatever other generalization you could care to insert here. Nowadays, burglars will stake out their targets for days on end, really getting to know the system they are going up against, where the weak spots are and what kind of pressure they need to apply to get what they want. All in the comfort of their houses, in front of their computers, safe in the knowledge that you would not even know they are there, even if you were looking for them. I realize that this all sounds like a plot from a Hollywood movie, but as the expression goes, “fact is often much stranger than fiction”.

So, what’s the solution?

The internet is full of guides and articles that suggest things like:

• Always ensure that you are downloading the latest patches and upgrades for your operating system.

• Change the router name from the default and ensure that you use a strong password and high encryption – some also suggest changing the password every so often, which does limit the possibility that the password will get hacked.

• If you tend to host a lot, ensure that you have a different network set up that is not related to your security system.

• Make sure that you have a backup power source, like a mini generator, to ensure that in the event the main power source gets compromised, you are not completely vulnerable.

• If your security system is linked to your smartphone, be sure that your smartphone is also completely secured in case you lose it.

• If possible, opt for a monitored security system rather than an unmonitored one. This will give you the added security of having a response team in the event that there is a break-in.

All these suggestions work and will ensure that you are always at least half a step ahead of any burglars that could potentially target you. But maybe it’s also worth considering going back to basics to cover the holes in the defence. A big old padlock on the front gate, shatterproof window panes and a Doberman in the front yard might just mean that your hi-tech, infra-red, heat-detecting security camera has less work to do, and you have one less thing to worry about. After all, most burglars these days carry a computer, not a crowbar.

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