These days “security” doesn’t mean the same thing to all people. In fact, cyber security has increased so dramatically in importance and profile that many people’s minds immediately jump to protecting their wi-fi networks and IoT devices whenever the term “home security” is mentioned.
While keeping your home digitally protected is undeniably imperative, you can’t forget that there remain physical threats to your home, too. It doesn’t much matter how many firewalls are on your network if a burglar busts a window and makes off with your laptop. Thus, smart home security must always include physical protections — but what does that mean?
This guide will walk you through the science of physical home security, so you can stay safe both online and in the real world.
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By far, the best way to make your home an unattractive target to attackers is illumination, especially around the exterior. The last thing crooks want is to be seen; if you have bright lights shining around every possible entry point, it’s likely that neighbors and passers-by will spot the criminal making a break-in attempt and call the authorities. If you don’t like the idea of leaving your exterior lights on all night long, you might set them on timers, or better yet, you can attach them to motion sensors, which will shine down on intruders when they approach.
On a related note, you should keep your landscape well-trimmed around doors and windows. Even when you have an abundance of bright lights, if trees and shrubs are impeding visibility of your entryways, criminals will make a go of getting into your home. You can always hire a yard care service to keep your landscape well-maintained.
Light is important, but so is sound. Dogs are effective crime deterrents not because criminals are afraid of being bit but rather because canine friends bark, snarl and generally raise a ruckus, drawing neighborhood attention to your property. However, if you don’t want a big, loud dog — or if your big, loud dog is frustratingly friendly — you should look into getting an alarm. Home alarm systems use sensors attached to windows and doors; if a door or window is opened without your permission, a loud klaxon will sound and usually authorities will be notified.
However, alarms only work if you use them. Too many homeowners with alarm systems installed fail to arm the alarm when they leave or go to sleep — usually out of laziness or lack of skill. You should look for an alarm system that is convenient and comprehensible, so you actually put it to use.
You’d be surprised how many home invasions occur just because a criminal passing by found an unlocked door or window. Contrary to popular belief, lock-picking isn’t a common or terribly viable break-in technique; it takes too much time, requires too many tools and demands too much skill. When faced with a locked door or window, most criminals will either move on to look for an unlocked option or use force — like a rock through a window — to get in (but lights and alarms will prevent this attack).
Locks can be simple and effective crime deterrents, as long as they are properly strong and used regularly. On doors, the right locks are deadbolts because they are complex and strong. If your door is near a window, you should opt for a double-cylinder deadbolt, which requires a key on either side to unlock and ensures that a smashed window won’t result in an open door. Different styles of windows require different kinds of locks, so you shouldn’t expect a one-size-fits-all option to keep your home safe.
You don’t need functional security cameras on your property to deter crime. The vast majority of security cameras in public places are fake — but they deter crime anyway because most would-be shoplifters are uncertain which ones work and which ones don’t. A phony security camera placed so it is visible from the street will convince most criminals that your property is properly protected and not worth the risk.
Of course, real home security cameras are becoming more and more affordable, especially as smart technology advances. If you want to do more than give the illusion of security, you might invest in products like Ring, Arlo or Wyze, which are affordable, reliable and connected to you, no matter where you are.
You need cyber security products like strong passwords and firewalls, but you also need physical protections to keep your tech (and all your other property) safe. As long as you are committed to maintaining a secure home, you can avoid the worst break-ins.