Alarm Code Best Practices: How To Best Secure Your Home and Limit Vulnerability
Homeowners: think about the number of people in your life who have access to your property and know the password to your security system.
Is that number limited to your immediate family? Do the neighbors know? What about the maintenance man and the babysitter? The same questions can be asked about who has spare keys to the house. In a perfect world, you would like to think that you can always trust the people in your life who you feel comfortable with, but, sadly, that simply isn’t the case.
For example, according to NorthJersey.com, police charged a woman with burglarizing a home using a spare key that she lifted from her parents’ residence. She was visiting her parents home and stole a spare key her parents had for the neighbor’s home. Luckily for the neighbors, when she went into the home, she set off the alarm and was caught as a result.
In a strangely similar case, according to NBC Miami, a Florida woman burgled her neighbors who were on vacation, and in the process of the burglary she stole the spare keys to their parents house. According to NBC, she was planning on using those keys to rob the parents as well, but she was caught after police grew suspicious of her interest in the case. These incidents just go to show that when you give someone your spare keys, you open yourself to vulnerability that you may not even be able to project. Just think if the victims had also given the people they entrusted with their keys the alarm code to their home. These cases show us that we should limit the exposure to our homes to as few people as possible. For example, if you gave your alarm code to the babysitter a few months ago, or to the painter last week, consider resetting your code. While it may seem harmless for a few people to know your information, you never know what could happen.
Another option is to provide the housecleaner, handyman, babysitter, etc., their own code, different than the family code. It can be deleted as necessary, and will identify the person when it is used. (so if it is used to disarm the system when a burglary occurs, you’ll know who the burglar was). This code can also be programmed differently, so as to only allow certain settings or areas to be armed/disarmed.
Generally speaking, it’s smart to change your alarm code two to four times a year; many people make this a biannual practice that occurs when daylight savings times are adjusted. We recommend limiting the number of people who know your alarm code to your immediate family, meaning just your spouse and your children. It’s also important to make sure your kids know the importance of keeping the alarm code to themselves. Below, we’ll explain some best practices when it comes to choosing your alarm’s personal identification number (PIN).
A study done by Data Genetics revealed that a staggering 19 percent of all PINs in the world are either “1234,” “1111,” or “0000.” In fact, 11 percent of all PINs are “1234.” It just goes to show how easy it could be for a criminal to guess your PIN number and wreak havoc.
So, how can you increase the strength of your PIN? Follow the security tips and advice listed below.
Don’t use dates for your PIN
A very common PIN combination is the year you were born. That’s a problem because every combination involving a birthday can be whittled down to two start numbers: “19XX” or “20XX.”
Right there, you’re already giving a criminal a two-number head start on guessing your PIN. Also, with the amount of information available on social media today, it becomes very easy for a criminal to research the date of birth for you and your family members and run through the limited options when trying to crack the code.
Avoid sequential numbers, easy patterns and repeats
According to Data Genetics, the top five most used PINs in the world are “1234,” “1111,” “0000,” “1212,” and “7777.” If you’re struggling to figure out a PIN that will be easy for you to remember — but tough for a burglar to guess — try using the 1-800 phone number strategy.
We’ve all seen the infomercials pleading us to call 1-800-XXX-XXXX. Use this same strategy to choose your PIN, using the old school alphabetical counterparts for numbers to choose your PIN. For example, say your dog’s name is “Jake,” the correlating number would be “5253.”
Never use default PINs
Most security systems come with a default PIN. It’s highly recommended to customize your PIN to ensure you’re the only one who knows how to arm or disarm the system. It’s the quickest and easiest way to drastically improve your home’s security.
Choose a creative pattern
Many people tend to choose a PIN that’s composed of adjacent numbers on the keypad, like “4567.” For example, a PIN that is “8259” is harder to guess because the numbers are spaced out well on the keypad.Burglars tend to try patterns when they’ve run through the most common PINs, so avoid an easy button pattern.
Position alarm control panel out of plain sight
Make sure your alarm control panel isn’t easily visible through a window. You never know who could be out there lurking, hoping to catch a quick glance of your PIN. This advice can also be applied to garage code panels.
In general, just make sure no one can easily track your PIN from a distance.
Clean your security control panel
It may seem like a drastic measure to take, but it’s very important to clear your fingerprints and marks off of the control panel every few months because the wear and tear on your combination can become fairly obvious over time. This essentially creates a four-digit guessing game for a burglar.
Periodically change your PIN
It’s smart to change your PIN every year to avoid the problem of wear and tear on the buttons. You should switch up the numbers you use so certain buttons aren’t more worn out than others.