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Protect Yourself From Bluetooth Hackers

by Amy February 8, 2018

Many people believe that being hacked is not easy and unfortunately this is not true. Many people also believe they will not be hacked because they do not have any essential information, but this is false as well. A hacker can find out more than you’d think just by hacking into your cell phone. Be cautious and protect yourself from being hacked by following these safety tips:

Protect Your Home Devices

1. Turn Off Your Wifi And Bluetooth

Hackers can see if you keep these features on your phone on at all times. The reason why this is important is because they could view what networks you have connected to before and can spoof them and trick your phone into connecting to Wifi and Bluetooth devices that hackers carry around. Once in control of your device, hackers can bombard your device with malware, steal data, or even spy on you.

2. Use Two-Step Authentication

Many major internet websites will provide a login option for two-step authentication. Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn are a few of these companies that will ask you for a secret code that is sent through text message to your cell phone, to log into your account. This is a great form of protection because even if someone manages to guess your password, it would be impossible to login without having full access to your phone.

3. Create A Smart Password

Consider using various characters and numbers sporadically throughout your password. Make sure this is something you will be able to remember. The more unique your password is, the less likely someone will be able to guess it.

4. Guard Your Home Wifi

Setting up your home wifi system is an important way to stay protected. First, change the password to the wifi network. Do not continue to use the random password that is written on the side of your router. When asked what type of security encryption standard you’d like to have for your network, choose WPA-2.

5. Don’t Hide Your Wifi Signal

If your home router asks to “Hide The SSID”, click no. This means that all your devices will always be looking for a new network to join. It could also mean that you are joining networks that are not safe.

Protect Your Bluetooth Devices

Scammers gain access to cell phone users by hacking into your cell phone using Bluetooth. To protect yourself consider these tips:

1. Create A Good Password

To prevent your Bluetooth from being hacked, always use a minimum of eight characters in your pin.

2. Use “Not Discoverable” Setting

Switch Bluetooth into “not discoverable” when you are not using it.

3. Be Cautious Of Other Devices

Do not accept any pairing requests from any unknown devices. This is very important because this is how a hacker gains full access to your cell phone including calls, texts, pictures, credit card information, and any other important information your phone contains.

4. Be Cautious Of Ways To Get Hacked

  • Bluejacking: This is one of the most common ways that people are being hacked. This is when a hacker searches for discoverable devices around them and sends spam in the form a text. This method is usually harmless but is more annoying than a significant security issue. This method is specifically used for different types of spam messaging and does not give hackers access to your phone or its contents. The best way to handle this mode is to ignore messages if you receive them. If you keep your Bluetooth setting on “non-discoverable” then you should not have many problems with this form of hacking.
  • Bluesnarfing: This type of hacking can lead to a hacker gaining access to your private information on your smartphone. A hacker could potentially purchase software that allows them to request information from your device. It is possible for this to happen when you are set to “invisible” or “non-discoverable”, but it is much less frequent due to the time, effort, and money needed to complete this type of hack.
  • Bluebugging: If a hacker uses bluebugging, then they have received full access to your cell phone. They can see all your photos, apps, contacts, texts, and phone calls. This type of hacking is only feasible with older phones with outdated firmware. Newer smartphones are less likely to have this happen because of constant security updates.

While your wireless security system protects your home and those within it, it doesn’t necessarily protect the software within your home. Be smart when using your Bluetooth devices so that they are not vulnerable to a hacker waiting to prey on your network. Take the time to avoid being an easy target for a hacker.

How To Place Security Cameras

by Amy January 30, 2018

The placement of home security cameras is just as important as having them. My Alarm Center is strategic when deciding the location of your surveillance system.

Security cameras are installed at the front door, back door, and near first floor windows.

These locations are the most common entry points for intruders, according to statistics from the Bureau of Justice. Cameras are placed above doors and windows, outside your home, and facing downward. This way the camera can view a few feet in front of the opening. Exterior cameras have night vision and are waterproof. Some can be placed in the interior of the home, looking out, so that there is a view of the windows and yard outside.

Cameras have full view and are in focus.

The range of the camera determines the interior placement of cameras. Anything with a range of around 45 to 75 degrees should be aimed to specific areas like a doorway or garage entry door. Cameras with a full wide view of 75 to 180 degrees allow you to see a full room with just one camera.

Cameras watch over any valuables.

If you have a safe within your home, the camera is angled so that it can be seen. Any important hiding places are guarded with a camera as well. If there is a break in, this will help determine what was taken.

Cameras are kept out of reach.

It’s important cameras are kept in an area where they can’t be easily tampered with. If an intruder can break the camera or cover it, it will not be beneficial. Cameras are placed in areas that aren’t obvious but will maximize the view.

Cameras are connected to your home security system.

Security cameras can work strategically with your home security system and home monitoring to protect your home. They’re also great for home automation, allowing you to check home security feeds any time you wish.

Cold Weather Safety Tips

by Amy January 17, 2018

The winter season has arrived and it is important to stay safe throughout this bitterly cold period. My Alarm Center wants to remind you to prepare accordingly for the cold weather.

  1. Pay Attention To The Forecast

Pay attention to your daily and weekly weather forecast. Look out for low wind chills and winter weather advisories. This will help you dress accordingly if you must go out, pick up the supplies you may need, and prepare your home for the harsh elements.

  1. Plan Ahead

Plan for weather conditions that you do not expect. Keep an extra coat or blanket in your car. Keep extra food in the house. If your job is outdoors, plan a warm-up break. You never want to be caught off guard in the cold.

  1. Protect Your Home

A bad winter storm could knock out your power or even your heat. Generators and space heaters are wonderful to have but be cautious when using them. Space heaters should always be kept three feet away from anything flammable. Generators should never be hooked up to the homes internal wiring. The safest way to use a generator is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to it. Be cautious of your pipes freezing as well. When water freezes it expands and can cause a burst pipe. Flood monitoring can be used to keep you aware of any leaks before they turn into a flood. If you do lose heat, keep sinks running a trickle of water to help prevent pipes from freezing.

  1. Winterize Your Home

Consider installing weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows to protect your home from losing heat throughout the season. Insulate water lines that run along your exterior walls to help keep your pipes from freezing.

  1. Dress Warmly

Dress in several different layers. Ideally, your outermost layer will be wind resistant. Make sure to wear a hat or insulated gloves. Keep your face and neck warm with a scarf.

  1. Seek Shelter When Necessary

When the wind chill is low it can do significant damage to your body. Make time to get out of the cold and limit your time spent outdoors. There’s nothing like a warm home on a cold day. If you want to keep your house warm but not have the heat on all the time, you can use a smart thermostat with your home automation system to keep the heat low when you’re at work and warm your house up right before you get home.

  1. Stay Dry

Stay as dry as possible when it’s cold outside. Wet clothing chills the body much more rapidly. If you begin to sweat from the multiple layers, remove your outer layer or unzip your coat.

  1. Keep Active

The more physical activity you’re getting, the warmer you’ll be. Walking or running will help you naturally generate body heat.

  1. Be Aware

Be cautious of signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Children, the elderly, and anyone with circulation problems are more susceptible to the cold. The use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain medications will also increase susceptibility to the cold.

The Signs Of Hypothermia

  • A drop in body temperature.
  • Shivering, confusion, and loss of muscular control.
  • Loss of consciousness.

What To Do

  • Get the person inside and gently remove any wet clothing.
  • Lay the person flat and avoid rough handling, especially if they are unconscious.
  • Warm the person gradually and slowly, with any available sources of heat.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.

The Signs Of Frostbite

  • Skin appears white and waxy and is hard to the touch.
  • There is no sensation and the area feels numb or is tingling.

What To Do

  • Get inside a warm place.
  • Warm the area gradually with body heat or warm water.
  • Get medical assistance immediately.

My Alarm Center wants to remind you and your family to stay safe throughout the winter season. Remember to check the local weather forecasts and dress appropriately for the current winter conditions. If you notice signs of hypothermia or frostbite, make sure you contact medical personnel as soon as possible.

Tips For Better WiFi

by Amy January 2, 2018

There are many reasons your home wifi could be running slow and many ways to make it go a little bit faster. If you’re having problems with slow speeds and bad reception, try a few of these tips to increase your internet’s capabilities.

  1. Start With New Hardware

Ensure your network connection is reliable. Make sure you are using up to date equipment. Our technology has changed rapidly over the last several years, so old technology doesn’t always work to full capacity.

  1. Pick A Good Spot For Your Router

Make sure your router is in an open area without any obstructions from walls or other electronic devices. Some electronic devices have the capacity to block the wireless signal. The best place to keep your router is on a flat surface without anything else near it.

  1. Ensure You’re Using The Correct Wireless Channel

If several routers in a close area are using the same wireless channel, they can easily reduce the speeds of your wifi. Choose a channel that has as little signal interference as possible. Your router will include instructions on how to change your wireless channel if you do not know how to change it.

  1. Avoid Interference From Other Electronics

A wireless signal can be blocked by many different devices including cordless phones, microwaves, and televisions. Make sure your router is positioned away from any large electronics.

  1. Wifi Security

When installing your wireless router, set it up as a secured connection. This means you’ll have to provide a username and password to receive wifi from the router. If you use a good password, it will be difficult for any neighbors or strangers to hack your wifi. You can also hide the SSID, which is the name of your wifi. It will not appear as an option to log on to though. You’ll have to enter the SSID manually.

  1. Control Bandwidth Applications

Someone in your home may be hogging the bandwidth signal if they’re constantly streaming movies or video games. You can control the quality of service to prioritize certain applications.

  1. Install A Wifi Extender

A wifi extender is essentially a second router that will capture the wifi signal and allow it to reach further. This is especially helpful in a home with brick walls or other blockers to the wifi signal.

  1. Restart Your Wifi On A Regular Basis

It is important for your wifi to be turned off and rebooted on a regular basis. This will allow it to update. It is possible to set it on a rebooting schedule so that it turns off in the middle of the night when you’re not using it.

  1. Switch To 5GHz

Most wifi providers offer a dual band router, which gives you two different signals to connect to. 5GHz is a faster signal than 2.4GHz, but 2.4GHz has a wider range. Older devices might not be compatible with 5GHz. 5GHz is a less congested signal than 2.4GHz, which makes it ideal for those living in condos or apartments.

  1. Turn Off Eco Mode

Some routers are made to save energy though they have the tendency to reduce your wifi speed and signal. Turn off the power saving, or eco mode, to restore the proper speeds to your router. These may be on by default and do not save a significant amount of power.

It’s important to have a fast wifi connection. Make sure you protect your wireless signal with a secured connection and utilize these tips to improve your wifi speeds.

Home Security And Holiday Guests

by Amy December 14, 2017

During this wintry season, many people have guests stay with them to enjoy and celebrate the many holidays. Your home security system can be a great tool for keeping your home and your guests safe and unharmed. Ensure this holiday season is a cheerful time for all with these recommended home security solutions from the home security experts at My Alarm Center.

  1. Use Automatic Locks

The holiday season is a joyful season for family, gifts, songs, and celebration. The holiday season, unfortunately, is also a time for theft. You should never leave your doors unlocked, even if you are home. To ensure that only the guests you invited are entering your home, use automatic door locks that lock themselves after a few moments and can only be accessed with the proper temporary codes.

  1. Security Cameras

Your security system cameras help keep everything and everyone inside your home safe. You can monitor your home through any smart device, like your smartphone, and keep intruders away from your property. If you feel uncomfortable about a guest staying in your home, you can also use your security cameras to make sure guests are not in places that they should not be.

  1. Personalized Security Codes

Your home security service has different access codes for family members and different access codes for guests. No one can enter or exit without the proper code and you can even see who is coming and going. Their temporary access code will work for the limited time that you set it for. This way they won’t have access to your home throughout the rest of the year.

Your home security service will put you at ease throughout this stressful holiday season. Your home security system will keep you from having to worry about the safety of your valuables or whether or not any guests are going through your personal stuff. If anything happens, you’ll know about it.

How Fire Alarm Monitoring Saves Lives

by Amy November 20, 2017

With fire alarm monitoring, you can be certain you’re safe in case of a fire as an alarm monitoring center will be alerted as soon as a fire alarm or smoke detector is triggered. The monitoring center will then alert the fire department and make sure everyone has safely gotten out of the house. With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important to remind your family of emergency procedures and make sure that you are prepared in case a fire does occur.

Fire Alarm Monitoring:

Many people assume that this would be a pricey purchase, which it is not. Most home security systems now come with fire monitoring which can include smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors. Fire alarm monitoring alerts you as soon as your home detectors are activated, even if you are not home. Fire alarm monitoring is a system designed to make sure everyone has escaped from a fire successfully and to send help immediately.

Smoke Detectors:

Make sure smoke detectors are installed in every level of your home and close to sleeping areas. It is even recommended to have a smoke detector in every bedroom of your home. These alarms are loud enough to wake your entire house and will make sure you have plenty of time to get out of the house if there is a fire.

Escape Route:

It is important to have a plan before a fire breaks out, so when an emergency occurs you’ll know exactly what to do. Have a strategy for every member of the house and plan to meet at a designated area outside of the home. It is recommended to have two full plans of escape. Consider purchasing escape ladders that can be attached to windows for upper level bedrooms. Practice your fire escape route with your family, so everyone can feel comfortable with how to handle this scary situation.

Stop, Drop, and Roll:

If you are ever on fire, stop, drop, and roll on the ground until the fire is out.

Stay Low:

If ever caught within thick smoke, crawl along the ground to escape safely.

A situation can go from bad to worse in seconds. Be prepared and make sure you alert your family of what to do in case of a fire emergency. A fire alarm monitoring system will keep you fully covered in case of a fire emergency. The holiday season can put you at risk of many different types of unfortunate fires, so be careful and take the time to prepare in case of an emergency fire situation.

Thanksgiving Kitchen Fire Safety

by Amy November 9, 2017

Thanksgiving guarantees a full stomach for the whole family. Which means a full kitchen before that. People coming and going as the Thanksgiving feast is being prepared. Unfortunately, all the hustle and bustle lead to Thanksgiving being the number one day for house fires. My Alarm Center wants you to be safe and alert this Thanksgiving. Fire alarm monitoring can make sure the fire department is on its way as soon as a fire starts. Additionally, here are some kitchen safety tips to keep your family and your home safe.

  1. Test Your Smoke Alarms

Before you start cooking, it’s recommended to ensure that your smoke and fire alarms are working properly. This way you’ll immediately be alerted in case of a fire.

  1. Keep A Fire Extinguisher Handy

A fire extinguisher in the kitchen could stop a fire before it can spread. Be sure your fire extinguisher is safe to use in the kitchen fire before utilizing.

  1. Wear Proper Cooking Attire

Wear a shirt with short or close-fitting sleeves. Loose clothing can easily catch fire and be hazardous in the kitchen.

  1. Stay In The Kitchen

It is easy to get distracted entertaining your loved ones, but it is imperative to keep an eye on everything being prepared in the kitchen.

  1. Don’t Leave Your Home

Many people think it’s okay to make a quick run to the grocery store while their turkey is in the oven, but this is not the case. A disaster could happen at any moment and it is essential to be home just in case. Stay present in your house while the turkey is cooking and check on it frequently.

  1. Keep Kids Out Of The Kitchen

Your children are better off outside the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. It’s important that they stay away from sharp objects and hot foods.

  1. Be Cautious Of Stove Placement

Be aware of your pots on the stovetop. Make sure that pot and pan handles are toward the back of the stove and won’t be easily run into. Avoid leaving any towels or pot holders near any open flames

If a fire does occur…

  1. Call 911 immediately.
  2. If grease or oil causes the fire, do not take the contents outside. Move a lid overtop of the flames to smother them. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on the pan until it cools.
  3. To extinguish any other food fires, use baking soda.
  4. If an oven or broiler is the cause of the fire, make sure to keep the oven door closed and turn off the heat to smother the flames.
  5. Do not use water or flour to put out any cooking fire, they could have a violent reaction to the grease and cause the fire to spread and become worse.

This Thanksgiving make sure that you are cautious and alert when cooking in the kitchen. Be prepared for any possible disaster and make sure you’re ready with a fire extinguisher. Keep your children away from the kitchen and keep your home and family safe. Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast and remember you have a lot to be thankful for.

Adding Extra Layers To Your Home Security

by Amy October 23, 2017

These days you never know if your home security is strong enough until it is threatened. This is why it’s a good idea to add on as many layers of home security as possible. Use a variety of security tactics so that you will always feel safe and know the belongings inside of your home will be safe as well.

Layer 1: Lighting

Use lighting to your advantage by placing them around the exterior of your home strategically. There should be no unlit areas that someone could potentially hide in. Have motion detector lights installed to alert you of outside activity. Also, make sure entrances to the home are illuminated throughout the night. It is much less likely that an intruder would attempt a break in when they would be seen walking in the front door.

Layer 2: Locks

The most important part of locks is not that they are present but that they are used. A home could have several padlocks on the door but if they are not locked at all times, they are no use to you. Even if you assume that your neighborhood is safe, you should leave the door locked when you are home and when you are away, even if only for a few minutes. This rule also applies to garage doors.

Layer 3: Blinds

Even though your home may seem brighter with the blinds all the way up, it is smart to keep the blinds down, especially for bottom floor windows. A burglar would have a very difficult time entering the home through a window without making an excess of noise.

Layer 4: Home Security

A home security system is the best way you can protect yourself from home invasion. Cameras, motion detectors, and 24/7 alarm monitoring will alert you as soon as a break in occurs. You will also receive alerts when you are not home, so you know your home is always safe.

Layer 5: Pets

This is one of the layers people don’t think about. Dogs are alert to all sounds inside and outside of the home. They can alert you the moment someone is near your window or outside your front door. It’s almost impossible to get past a dog inside your home and criminals are immediately deterred from attempting a break in when they see a dog lives there.             

There are many different layers to home security and they work best when they are combined. Use several layers of security to ensure your home is always safe. My Alarm Center is one of the leading home security system suppliers in Philadelphia. They provide home monitoring that will alert you as soon as a possible threat occurs.

Halloween Costume Safety Tips

by Amy October 11, 2017

Halloween can be the scariest night for parents. Follow these costume tips and give yourself some peace of mind on the spookiest of evenings by making sure whatever costume your child wears it’s a safe one.

  • Avoid baggy outfits and flowing cloaks. These stray pieces can easily brush across an open flame or trip up a trick or treater when they’re walking.
  • Shoes should be comfortable with laces securely tied. Decorative heels and oversized shoes can result in a painful spill.
  • Be sure to buy costumes that are labeled as flame resistant. With flickering candles and jack-o-lanterns there are many open flames around on Halloween night.
  • Make sure that any makeup you use is hypoallergenic. Nothing is less fun than a rash on Halloween.
  • Never use decorative contact lenses. Most aren’t certified by optometrists and can cause severe eye damage.
  • Avoid costumes and props with sharp edges. You want to make sure the only kids with eye patches are ones dressed as pirates.
  • You’ll often find dozens of trick or treaters coming to your door in the same costumes. Unique costumes are recommended so your child is easy to pick out in a crowd. If your child is wearing a similar costume to others, make sure to add something which stands out from the rest.
  • Make sure any masks being worn are easy to see out of. Obscured vision can lead to accidents.
  • Don’t rely on flashlights being the only thing that makes your trick or treater visible. Use reflective tape and glow sticks to make sure drivers can clearly see your child as they cross the street. Additionally, don’t ever let your kids go out in an all-black costume, no matter how scary they may look.

Halloween is a night of extreme excitement but also a night of dangers. Dark streets, costumed children, and candy fueled activities increase hazards. By following these simple tips, you can make sure your family has fun while staying safe. For more safety tips, check out some of My Alarm Center’s other articles.

Boat Safety And Security

by Amy September 29, 2017

While boating, the most important thing is to keep yourself and anyone else aboard safe. It is also vital to remember how to keep your boat safe when you are not using it. Plan ahead and make sure you’re prepared for any possible situation.

Boat Safety:

  1. Have enough life vests for all passengers.
    Also make sure life vests properly fit all passengers in case they need to be used. Test your life jackets at least once a year to ensure that they are still working.
  2. Take a water safety course.
    Be prepared to properly operate your boat before you plan to set out on the water. 70% of boating accidents are caused by simple errors.
  3. Preplan your course and share it.
    Plan the course ahead of time and share it with someone who is not going on your sea voyage with you. In case something happens, someone would know where to look for you.
  4. Check the weather before departure.
    The biggest safety hazard on the water is storms. It’s imperative that you’re aware of the weather patterns before attempting a trip on the water.
  5. Follow the Maritime Laws.
    Just as you are expected to follow all traffic laws on the road when driving a car, you are required to follow the rules on the water as well. If you are unfamiliar with these laws, make sure you educate yourself before moving out onto the water.
  6. Carry a first aid kit.
    You never know what could happen when you’re out at sea, so make sure you have a fully stocked first aid kit so you can be prepared for any possible situations.
  7. Do not drink and drive on the boat.
    Drinking and driving also applies to boats. It can be just as dangerous to be driving a boat while intoxicated. You can also be arrested and be charged with a BUI.

Boat Security:

  1. Install a motion detector on the boat.
    This is a great idea if you’re concerned your boat may be stolen. You’ll be notified of any movement near or inside your boat and have enough time to respond.
  2. Moor your boat in a well-lit area.
    Storing your boat in a well-lit marina is the best way to keep your boat from being stolen. It’s recommended to store your boat in a marina with security and get to know who occupies the docks around you.
  3. Secure your boat to the dock.
    If your boat is not secured, it is much more likely to be a target because thieves can simply hitch it up and tow it away. Use a boat security lock, preferably one with a locking steel cable that cannot easily be broken.
  4. Secure the outboard motor to the boat.
    Some thieves may attempt to take the motor because this is an easier target than the entire boat. Make sure that you secure the motor to the boat itself to prevent it from being taken.
  5. Install an alarm system.
    There is no better deterrent than a security system. Some wireless security systems even have engine kill switches, which make your boat almost impossible to steal. Having an alarm system installed on your vessel is a great way to keep it safe when you’re not using it.

When planning your next boating trip make sure you plan ahead so that you are prepared for anything you may encounter on the water. Be sure to secure your boat when you’re finished and take the time to make sure it will be safe in your absence.