Leaving On Vacation? Here’s Your Handy Home Security Checklist

 

First – start by creating the illusion that somebody is actually still home!

You can achieve this by:

  • Setting your lights on timers to be set on/off at different times in different rooms
  • Set your radio, sounds system or television to turn on and off; creating the sound of someone at home
  • Leave a car in the driveway – have someone move it from side to side occasionally (close family member, friend or neighbor)
  • If you normally leave a few toys around or hose uncoiled in the yard – do so. The idea is to look like things are as normal!
  • Curtains Closed — or Open?  You may think closing your curtains will prevent people from peering inside your home. However, closed curtains also stop those who aim to help — the police, your neighbors or friends — from seeing inside your house. So, what should you do? Leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you are at home. Remember – you want to create the illusion that things are normal. You should never leave expensive items, like jewelry or computers, out where they are visible from the window.
  • Arrange to have your landscape trimmed. Nothing signals “not home” stronger than an unkempt yard, especially one that is normally regularly manicured.

Run by the post office (or do it on-line) and cancel your mail and newspaper deliveries. Or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to collect them for you while away.

Stow away your valuables and important papers. Lock up any valuable jewelry, deed to your home, title to your cars and small electronic devices. Things that are relatively small and easily transported are the main target of thieves. They want to get in and out fast, carrying as many valuables as possible. If you don’t have a safety deposit box, store these types of items in a fireproof lock box. Great places to put the lockbox are in children’s bed or playrooms, laundry room, garage or kitchen. Thieves will always look in master bedrooms and living spaces where adults hang out. 

Remove Your Spare Key(s)  That plastic rock, above the door-frame, under a mat/flowerpot isn’t fooling anyone. If a criminal figures out you’re away on vacation, it’s likely that (s)he will first check your porch and obvious locations for a spare key.

Don’t announce you are leaving or your whereabouts right before or during your vacation via Social Media.  Many of us enjoy keeping up with friends and family via social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The perceived anonymity of the Internet can encourage us to share personal information without fully realizing that there could be complete strangers viewing our daily musings. So try to refrain from posting those pre-vacation thoughts and plans and hold off posting pictures and statements showing you at fun or exotic location away from home until later. In addition, be careful what you say on your home, home office answer machine, voice mail or auto email response. People trying to reach you don’t need to know that you’re out of town — they just need to know that you can’t respond right now.

For the highest level of assurance – Alert Your:

  • Home Security Company – Double check that your door and window alarms are activated before you leave. Also, leave a house key and the code with someone you trust and provide the police and alarm company with their name and phone number. 
  • The local Police – Call the non-emergency number and let them know of your vacation timing. Often times they will send a patrol car by you home occasionally to inspect the property for abnormalities. Leave them a number where you – or someone you trust – can be reached. 

Right before leaving – to save yourself and the environment – Pull the Plug!  Disconnecting the power to electronics, like computers, routers, televisions, and other appliances can save you money while you’re gone and eliminate the worry. Turning off your garage door opener is also an effective way to keep thieves from opening it with a universal remote. Finally, never leave a portable GPS in your car when parking at the airport. It’ll alert thieves that you’re not home and give them a convenient map to your house.

We at Secur-Tek wish you and you families a safe and worry-free vacation holiday!

For more information about staying safe with a home alarm system while at home or away, call us at 919-387-1800, email  khenke@secur-tek.com or check out our website at  www.secur-tek.com.

Secur-Tek: Reliable, Local, Recycles

 

Secur-Tek offers reliable, local service and installation for Home Automation and Security Systems while implementing a “green” approach to doing business – we believe in protecting your home and the environment as well.  

As stated in their website, “Klipsch Sound carries a strong sense of responsibility when it comes to preserving the environment”. Klipsch has been delivering highly efficient premium speakers since 1946, and much like Secur-Tek, are always looking for earth-friendly ways to run their business. As they state, “From engineering and manufacturing to product packaging and displays, we want to remain committed to understanding green concepts as we shape our future products”

Klipsch began implementing “green” processes well before the environmental movement started. Their “horn technology” is the best way to achieve high efficiency and low distortion from a speaker. This principle remains the foundation of Klipsch products today and not only creates powerful, detailed audio performance but its speakers are among the most efficient offered in the market today.

Here are some ways they show their commitment:

  • Reduction of Hazardous Substances – All Klipsch products are RoHS (reduction of hazardous substances) compliant, meaning they do NOT contain substances that are harmful to humans or the environment           
  • Reconfiguration – Klipsch conducted a facility energy study and implemented several changes to their operations. The upgrades have resulted in 30% reduction in electrical costs and 52% reduction in gas consumption in just a two-year timeframe.
  •  Horn Loaded Efficiency Design – An average home speaker requires 1 watt of audio power to produce 85 to 88dB sound levels. Klipsch speakers can produce up to 6db more sound output for that one watt. This difference can reduce amplifier power needs by a factor of four, cutting electricity utilization by 75 percent.
  • Built to Last – As stated in their website, “Klipsch speakers – across the board – are not built with obsolescence in mind. We’ve been manufacturing long-lasting products for over 65 years, and we support them with repair parts and valuable customer service to keep them running”. This emphasis on longevity and durability, coupled with high quality results in less waste produced.

           Offering high quality, durable products with an emphasis on minimizing the impact on the environment — these approaches are complementary to Secu-Tek’s way of doing business for our customers! 

If you would like to learn more about Klipsch’s line of products and how we can enhance your home music / theater experience, please give us a call at (919) 387-1800 or checkout our Klipsch Audio page.

If you are looking to decrease your carbon footprint and are looking for convenient recycle centers, the listing below might help get you started: 

  

Wake County Convenience Centers

Multiple Centers in Wake County

http://www.wakegov.com/recycling/Pages/default.aspx

 

Durham County Recycling Centers

WEBSITE

 

Orange County Recycling Centers

WEBSITE

 

Hwy 55 C & D Landfill

Apex, NC

(919) 367-2895

Open until 5:00 PM

DIRECTIONS

 

Greenway Waste of Apex

Apex, NC

(919) 367-2895

WEBSITE

DIRECTIONS

 

South Wake Multi-Material Recycling Facility

Apex, NC

(919) 387-4312

Open until 4:00 PM

WEBSITE

DIRECTIONS

 

Cary Recycling Drop-off Site

Cary, NC

(919) 469-4090

Open until 5:00 PM

WEBSITE

DIRECTIONS

 

Citizen’s Convenience Center

Cary, NC

(919) 469-4090

Open until 5:00 PM

WEBSITE

DIRECTIONS

 

SMART Recycling US

Apex, NC

(919) 267-6848

WEBSITE

DIRECTIONS

 

South Wake MSW Landfill

Apex, NC

(919) 325-3000

Open until 5:00 PM

WEBSITE

DIRECTIONS

 

Cash for Junk Cars Raleigh, Cary, Garner, Durham, Clayton, Apex, Morrisville, NC

Raleigh, NC

(919) 624-4793

Open until 6:00 PM

WEBSITE

DIRECTIONS

 

American Greenz Inc.

Recycling Center

Morrisville, NC

(855) 372-7270

Open until 4:00 PM

WEBSITE

DIRECTIONS

 

           

 

 

 

 

         

Add to Your Outdoor Enjoyment

The sky is Carolina blue and the sun is shining. You’re standing in your backyard thinking about the perfect summer barbecue. As you survey the yard, a few fantasies dance in your mind:

A new deck or stone patio?

Built in Grill?

New outdoor furniture?

A fire pit?

Or maybe even a DJ …

 

Your imagination runs wild with the vision of family, friends and neighbors laughing and talking in your backyard – but wait …. there’s something else making it fun and festive – music!! With a sad glimmer of nostalgia, you remember the boom box that used to crank out your favorite party tunes (Jimmy Buffett comes to mind) – too bad that sudden summer shower destroyed it! With those fond memories running around in your head, you decide to look into something more durable. Something that is designed specifically for your yard where you can enjoy high-fidelity sound without worrying about the batteries, extension cords or weather.

Guess what… you’re in luck! Outdoor sound systems have come a long way since the boom box era.

When installed professionally, today’s systems produce extremely high-quality sound for listeners’ enjoyment. They are also very durable and can sound great for many years. However, there are a few key factors to consideration when designing your musical environment.

First off, an outdoor sound system can’t take advantage of the reflective surfaces that make indoor speakers more efficient (e.g. floors, walls and ceiling). In addition, there is ambient noise from passing cars, chirping crickets, and kids at play to consider in your design. Because of this, outdoor speakers require enough oomph from an amplifier with sufficient wattage to power them. The most common mistake people make with outdoors systems are under powering them which leads to distorted sound, or worse, blown speakers.

Consideration must also be given to the specific design of the area where people are to gather and the type of music you prefer to play. If your area is large, you’ll want to spread the load among multiple speakers and ensure optimal positioning. Multiple speakers playing softly in the right positions will sound much better than a few pushing too hard.

The backyard environment will also expose your system to the extremes of our North Carolina weather. Quality speakers must be able to endure sun, rain and hot/cold temperatures while melding in nicely with the landscaping. There are two basic types of all-weather speakers used: simple bookshelf-type models wrapped in protective casings, or stealth speakers that masquerade as garden rocks, flowerpots, or even benches. Although these speakers are built to be left out year-round, they will last longer and look and sound better if care is taken in determining their placement. For example, box-type speakers can be positioned under the protection of eaves or arbors. In the case of stealth speakers, they can be integrated and protected by natural cover like trees and bushes.

Finally, for convenience and user flexibility, wireless outdoor speakers are ideal. They operate on a designated frequency to deliver sound from your audio devices or Internet radio and can be tied into your home automation system.

So, this summer, you can stop just thinking about it and create the outdoor experience you have always wanted by adding quality sound to liven up gatherings or help you relax after a long, stressful day.

For more information on designing and installing quality outdoor sound systems, please contact Ken Henke at Secur-Tek: (919) 387-1800.

Can Your Devices Spy on You? Tips for Stronger Security and Privacy

Smartphones, apps, and devices such as Amazon’s Alexa/Echo and Google’s Home are all making our lives easier (or at least more fun). After all, you can play games, check the weather, see what your friends are up to, and go shopping, track packages, and set reminders — all with the click of a button or a voice command.

But the more devices we allow into our lives, the more we increase our security risk. Many of our home security customers are asking about security and privacy. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

Smartphones
Some people don’t mind digital eavesdropping. Others would prefer Facebook not to listen in all the time, which it does. If this bothers you, the best thing to do is uninstall the app completely. However, you can also disable any app’s use of your microphone using the following steps:

iPhones/Apple:
● Go to “settings”
● Choose the app you want to change
● Turn off the microphone

Android
● Go to “settings” and select “personal”
● Choose “privacy”
● Then choose “permissions”
● Finally, choose “microphone” and turn it off

Home Devices
Home devices such as Google’s Home or Amazon’s Alexa/Echo record conversations after you activate them with the code words, “Ok Google” or “Hey Alexa.” They listen for your voice query, then upload it to servers, where it is analyzed so the appropriate response can be delivered. While the data passed between the device and the servers is encrypted, there are some other security concerns, including:

● The microphones are always listening unless you mute them.
● The devices don’t differentiate between people, meaning someone else can use your voice device to make changes to your security system if you have that set up.
● The recorded voice queries are stored on cloud servers. That data is used to create more targeted advertising.
● Your device’s location is shared.
● Data may be shared with third parties.

Using these devices means sharing your information. But you can make some small adjustments to make them slightly more private:

● Mute them when not in use. On the Echo, a physical mute button is located at the top of the device. On Google Home, use the touch panel on top to mute.
● Delete old recordings. For Echo, you do this through your Amazon account. Click “Manage my device” to delete your history. Note: Amazon warns this will result in a lower-quality experience. For Google, go to the My Activity dashboard to manage everything.
● Don’t connect sensitive accounts to home devices.

Home security questions? Contact us to learn how we can make your home more secure.

Cyber Security: Protect Your Business by Protecting Your Data

Cyber Security is the No. 1 concern for small business owners, according to a recent Business Journal survey. That concern is warranted: many go out of business after a security breach.

According to the Small Business Committee, 71 percent of cyber-attacks occur to businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The Journal’s report estimated that more than half a million small businesses will shut down in 2017 because of cyber security breaches. They also noted:

  • The cost to correct such attacks is often more than $36,000.
  • As a result, 60 percent of such businesses shut down within six months of a breach.

10 Ways to Protect Your Data

Here are the steps you can take to protect your systems:

  1. Educate yourself. Research and learn more about cyber-attacks and what the risks are for small business owners. Here are definitions and examples of some common
  2. Educate your team. If an employee doesn’t realize an email is a scam, he or she might compromise his/her computer.
  3. Be prepared. You have a fire evacuation plan in place for the building. You should also have a plan in place to handle different types of cyber security attacks. According to a 2012 nationwide study of small businesses, 83 percent of small businesses have no formal cyber security plan, and another 69 percent have no plan at all.
  4. Install anti-malware and antivirus protection and run it after any software updates. Many cyber-attacks occur through malware and aren’t noticed until too late.
  5. Update all software. Software updates often correct security bugs or problems. Make sure your team members are updating things or have an IT person handle it for everyone systematically.
  6. Pick up the phone and verify things instead of using emails, especially for credit card information and other financial data and transactions.
  7. Secure your hardware. In many cyber-attack cases, thieves first break in and steal employee laptops and other equipment. The physical loss is harmful, but thieves can also then use that equipment to hack your information. Physically lock items to desks. Keep all server rooms locked and closed when not in use. Make sure your building has a security system, including monitoring and cameras.
  8. Secure your Wi-Fi. Disable the service set identifier (SSID) broadcasting function on the wireless router so others cannot see the network. Also, update your Wi-Fi to the latest encryption standard.
  9. Encrypt your data. Operating systems comes with encryption tools such as BitLocker and FileVault for PCs and Macs, respectively. These tools encrypt everything as long as the system is logged off. Keep in mind that while someone is logged on, a hacker can still get in. Set employee computers to automatically log out after a certain length of time.
  10. Change passwords. Require employees to change passwords each quarter. Passwords need to be at least eight characters, a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Never use personal information or family birthdates.

Protect Your Company

Even with security, you may still be hit with a cyber-attack. Many companies are turning to cyber security insurance policies, just as they rely on insurance in case of an office flood or burglary. The demand for such policies is growing. If you have in-house team members managing security, consider a policy that protects against their errors as well as any packaged software problems.

Business Security

Concerned about security at your company? Give us a call to learn more about protecting your office and equipment.

VOIP AND DIGITAL PHONE SERVICE MAY INTERFERE WITH YOUR SECURITY/LIFE SAFETY SYSTEM

13767649_sWe would like to inform you about the potential impact that new types of phone services may have on your security/life safety system.  Commonly referred to as “VoIP” (Voice over Internet Protocol) and “digital telephone service,” these new phone options are rapidly growing in popularity.  These technologies allow you to make telephone calls via a broadband connection instead of using a traditional, “landline” phone service.  The benefits include enhanced features and lower costs compared to the traditional service. Typically, these new types of phone services replace your landline service.

It is important that you are aware that these new services can adversely affect your electronic security/life safety system.

In almost all cases, your security/life safety system relies on proper operation of the telephone line, and its associated special security wiring, to reliably communicate alarm signals to the central station. There are several important things to consider before making the decision to use VoIP or digital telephone service:

  • With a self-installed VoIP service, such as Vonage or AT&T’s CallVantage, your alarm system may lose its connection to the telephone service, rendering the system unable to send alarm signals to the central station.  VoIP technology may also cause your alarm signals to get scrambled as they are sent to the central station.
  • With digital telephone phone services offered by your cable provider, your system may be unable to consistently and reliably send alarm signals to the central station.  This technology may also cause your alarm signals to get scrambled as they are sent to the central station.
  • In addition to the security system’s battery back-up equipment, VoIP and digital phone services may need additional battery back-up equipment to maintain communications in the event of a power failure.

Either way, there is significant risk that your security/life safety system will not be able to communicate an emergency signal to the central station.

We encourage you to check with Secur-Tek, Inc. before making any changes to your existing telephone service. If you have already made the decision to switch to VoIP or digital phone service, it is extremely important that you contact us after you have the new phone service installed and Secur-Tek, Inc. will arrange a service call to properly test your system and check the wiring.

For the utmost reliability, there are new security communications solutions available that use digital wireless transmission or the Internet to reliably send alarm signals to the central station. These services allow you to take maximum advantage of cost savings from VoIP or digital telephone services while maintaining, and even improving, the reliability of your security/life safety system.  We would be happy to discuss these options with you.

If you have any questions, we encourage you to contact Secur-Tek, Inc. at 919-387-1800.

 

Home Theater Without the Hassle: Set Up Your System for the Super Bowl

Home theater systems make watching your favorite movies — or the upcoming Super Bowl — way more exciting. With the right screen and sound system, you feel as though you’re part of the action.

This time of year, many people try to install their own home theater systems. While the process seems easy enough, like many DIY projects, it can be harder than it looks. Here are three fantastic reasons to call Secur-Tek’s team for help:

1. No hassle. The day before the big game, you’ve got cables and cords all over the place. Hours later, you’ve tested one way, tested another. You can avoid the hassle by calling on our team to make sure the connections are not only correct, but stowed away attractively and neatly. Plus, our team can answer any questions you have about the system and how it all works. You can then spend more time basking in the glow of the amazing system before your friends arrive. 

2. Better picture and sound quality. You just spent good money to buy the best quality products. Great! But setting up the system wrong means you won’t get the best quality audio or video. Why spend that money only to lose out due to an error? Proper calibration, set up, and the room acoustics all go into the right system. Our team can make sure your home theater impresses friends, visitors, and even you! 

3. Peace of mind. Many people can help you hide cables or mount a TV so that it won’t fall off the wall. Installing a good home theater system requires more than construction knowledge. Hiring experts who spend their days drooling over home theater systems will ensure you’ve got the best system for your space and budget. Plus, you don’t have to worry about making mistakes that leave holes in the wall or cause electrical problems. (Your spouse will appreciate that peace of mind, too.)

What questions do you have about home theater systems? The team at Secur-Tek is happy to help. Contact us to get your system installed before your next party.