Home Security In 2021+
There has been a tremendous amount of change and evolution with respect to security and security systems over the last few years regarding both innovation and price.
Technology has become more and more advanced while the price of such technology has been decreasing, giving even low income households the opportunity to afford better security. This trend is set to continue, at least in the short to medium term and maybe one of the reasons why crime since the 1990s has been on a slow decline.
In this post we will take a look at the factors affecting home security in 2021 and beyond, how your home security could benefit by using new security innovations, how these systems work and if they are worth the costs.
Firstly we will examine what is a Smart Home in addition to the Internet Of Things, as they are both crucial for home security in 2021 and beyond.
What Is A Smart Home?
The term Smart Home is used to describe a residential property that contains a communication network of different appliances which communicate using WIFI to connect to the internet, allowing you to remotely control and monitor them. This Technology is rapidly developing and you can expect to see at least elements of this in all homes in the next few years.
All this is possible from a technology which has been developing rapidly called the Internet Of Things (IOT)
What Is The Internet Of Things (IOT)?
In the most general sense the IOT includes everything which connects to the internet, however the term is increasingly being used to define devices which talk to each other such as sensors, smartphones and other wearables such as smart watches. By connecting all of these devices and allowing them to communicate to one another allows the gathering of information, then analysing the information in order form the best action to take. All of this has been possible due to improvements in technology and price in regards to broadband. Broadband is now faster, cheaper and more reliable then it has ever been.
So in other words the IOT has allowed the smart home to come into existence. So you’re probably wondering how does security fit into all of this? Well we will now examine the smart security products currently on the market, how they can be used to benefit your security and the cost of such devices.
Smart Locks - What Are They & How Are They Beneficial?
Smart locks are electronic locks that lack a pin tumbler system and thus do not have a key or key hole, meaning that the traditional ways of bypassing a lock such as picking, bumping and snapping are redundant and obsolete. Instead the smart lock like all smart devices connects to the internet using WIFI and Bluetooth. Smart locks are controlled using the manufacturer’s specially made mobile app which can be controlled by your smartphone. Smart locks also use NFC (Near Field Communication) key fobs to unlock the door.
One very convenient feature of many smart locks is their ability to send temporary keys to people with a code or using the app itself. This can be very useful, for example, one day a family member may come by to pick up something from your home but you are not in. No problem, just set up temporary access for a specified amount of time on your app and send them the code and it’s done, they now have access to your home for a short period.
Cost – The cheapest smart lock on the market costs between £150 and £200.
Our Verdict – Smart locks are well worth the investment, they can give you a greater level of convenience and a better level of security compared to traditional locks. We expect within the coming years as more manufacturers enter the market and technology becomes cheaper the price of such locks to decrease.
Smart Doorbells - What Are They & How Are They Beneficial?
The Smart Doorbell is a relatively recent invention developed in 2013 by Jamie Siminoff of Ring Doorbell. A smart doorbell is like a normal doorbell with a few extra additions. Which usually includes
- A High Definition Camera
- A Two Way Audio System
- Motion Sensor
The 2 primary benefits of the smart doorbells is convenience and security. Once the motion sensor detects movement it will alert you via your smartphone where you can then view a live steam of your front door and use the two way audio system to communicate with whoever is there. Meaning you no longer have to open your door and expose yourself to unknown peoples. It is also very useful for collecting deliveries if you are not home, as you can instruct the delivery driver on what to do with your parcel.
While all of this is happening the high definition camera will record everything, meaning if something terrible was to happen, for example a burglar gains entry through your front door, everything would be caught on camera allowing you to pass it onto the police helping them to identify the assailant, in addition to this, if the criminals were to be caught by the police the footage could then be used in a court of law to prosecute
Cost – Smart Doorbells cost between £60 – £150 depending on the mode you choose. If you want your video data stored you will have to pay an annual subscription costing from as little as £25 a year.
Our Verdict – Smart Doorbells are relatively cheap and very easy to install, they provide a much greater level of convenience and security compared to the standard doorbell. We believe the smart doorbell is well worth the investment.
Smart Lightbulbs - What Are They & How Are They Beneficial?
Smart bulbs are like any other light bulb except they can be remotely controlled using the bulbs specially made smartphone app. Another advantage of the smart light bulb is that you can set up a schedule for the lights to turn on and off at certain times.
This is a great security addition especially if you are not home, as you can give the impression that your home is occupied, deterring potential burglars as it is common knowledge burglars try to target properties which are unoccupied as there is a much reduced chance of being caught. In fact between 40-50% of all homes burgled are unoccupied.
Cost – Smart light bulbs cost between £12 – £20.
Our Verdict – Smart bulbs are cheap and while they do not provide any type of security they can act as a great deterrent which is why we think it’s well worth the small cost and effort.
Security Systems What Are They & How Are They Beneficial?
A security system is a network of integrated electrical components working together in a central panel to protect against intruders. A security system works using a integrated network of sensors, once a sensor has been triggered it will send a signal to the control panel, after a set amount of time if the panel has not been deactivated using the correct password it will send a signal to the alarm box located on the outside of the property to emit a high decibel ring, alerting anyone nearby. Some systems which require a monthly or annual subscription service will send a signal to the alarm monitoring team who will then attempt to contact you and contact the police alerting them of the potential break in.
Comprehensive Security System Can Also Include;
- Wireless Cameras
- Carbon Monoxide alarm
- Fire Alarm
- Smart Doorbell
- Smart Locks
A Security system is the most expensive item in this list but they do offer the most comprehensive protection on almost all fronts. Security systems used to be just the alarm control panel , sensors and alarm box, but now due to advances in technology other components have been integrated into the system including CCTV, Smart Locks etc. On modern systems all of these can be controlled using a specially made app on your phone. The CCTV can stream directly to your phone, the smart doorbell will alert you when someone is at the door, the status of your alarm can be monitored informing you of which sensors have been triggered, you can remotely lock and unlock your smart locks and the status of your fire and carbon monoxide alarms will also be presented giving you truly comprehensive protection.
Cost – The costs of security systems vary depending on how big you want the system to be and what elements you want to be included. But the cheapest systerms start from around £100 and can go to over £1000. For monitored systems the monthly cost is between £15 – £45 a month.
Verdict – Modern Security systems do offer comprehensive cover but can be very expensive and can be tricky to install on your own, additionally the monthly monitoring service can be expensive too. We stand on the fence on security systems primarily due to the cost. If you can afford a security system then we recommend you purchase one which meets your individual requirements and have it professionally installed. However a security system is not a necessity and many of the individual components can be used individually such as CCTV, smart doorbells, fire and carbon monoxide alarms.
Disadvantage Of Smart Devices
One of the Primary downsides of a smart devices and the smart home is that it is possible to hack into your locks, doorbells, CCTV and alarm or another device which connects to your WIFI, once your network has been penetrated in one location all devices become exposed, so the strength of your network is only as strong as its weakest link. To help protect against this you need to ensure all of your passwords are strong using upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters. Another step you can take is to ensure the software on each electronic device is up to date with the latest version. The last step to take is to ensure you have a medium to high security firewall which will help protect against any cyber attacks.
We have examined the modern security appliances on the market. Now we will very briefly examine how traditional security appliances will still play a part in property security for a long time to come.
Traditional Locks - What Are They & How Are They Beneficial
Traditional locks are the locks seen on your front and back doors and will still be highly important in 2021 and beyond. I don’t believe we will see a mass migration to the smart lock primarily due to the price of the lock itself and labour to install, furthermore the elderly will be less likely to switch.
Traditional locks typically use one of two locking mechanisms, the first is a pin tumbler system seen on euro cylinders and latches while Mortice locks use a lever tumbler system.
The three types of locks commonly seen on UK doors are as follows;
- Euro Cylinders –
Commonly Used on – UPVC Doors & Composite Doors
Vulnerable to – Lock Snapping, Lock Picking, Lock Bumping, Hooking, Fishing, Door Popping.
- Night Latch –
Commonly Used on – Wooden doors in conjunction with a mortice lock. Latches are usually located around halfway up the door.
Vulnerable to – Lock Picking, Lock Bumping, Brute Force, Sliding
- Mortice Lock –
Commonly Used on – Wooden doors in conjunction with a latch. Mortice locks are usually located around ⅔ of the way down the door.
Vulnerable to – Lock Picking, Lock Bumping, Brute Force, Sliding
All of these types of locks come with varying levels of security. Criminals are always developing tactics and devices to overcome our homes defences. That is why it is more important than ever to ensure all of your locks are at least medium to high security. Locks which come with a 1 or 3 star rating have been designed and built to a high specification in comparison to standard locks and can resists drilling, picking, snapping and other techniques used to bypass locks for a much longer period of time.
Lighting - What Is It & How Is It Beneficial?
Lighting is a hugely important aspect and one we speak about again and again. Lighting includes anything which emits enough light to illuminate dark areas, that can be both halogen and LEDs. Good lighting according to the Police College can reduce crimes like theft and burglary by 21%.
There are two different types of lighting primarily used in property security.
- Firstly there is dusk till dawn lighting which will automatically turn on when the level of natural light has sufficiently decreased enough, this will usually be when the sun sets. The light will then turn off again when the level of natural light has increased sufficiently this will usually be when the sun rises.
- Secondly are motion sensor based lighting. This type of lighting will only turn on when someone or something moves in the local vicinity of the light and wil turn off when no motion has been sensed for a set amount of time.
We recommend motion sensor based lighting for two reasons
- Motion sensor based lighting will not annoy yourself or your neighbours with a bright light all night
- As the light only turns on when it needs to, it will not unnecessarily waste electricity.
One more thing, we also recommend you choose LED based lights as they consume around 10% of the electricity compared to their halogen alternatives.
Good Habits - What Are They & How Are They Beneficial?
Probably the most important and most overlooked aspect of home security are good habits, these include
Lock All Doors & Windows – Ensure all of your doors and windows are locked every time you leave the house and when you go to sleep at night. By locking your doors with your key also known as double locking, stops criminals from using a variety of tactics often used to bypass doors.
Activating Your Alarm – Ensure you activate your alarm system at night and when you leave the property, shockingly around 30% of people never activate their alarm.
Keep Bushes Trimmed – Burglars often use overgrown bushes and vegetation as a hiding place, take this away from them by keeping your buses maintained.
Don’t Advertise Your Absence – Avoid telling people when you’re going on holiday or when the home will be unoccupied. Around 40% of people know their burger, it could be anyone from a family member, friend or builder.
Keep Things Tidy – An uncut lawn, a pile of letters can be a signal that the property is empty and will be more likely targeted by burglars.
Know The Neighbors. – One good way to help protect you and your neighbors home is to get to know each other, neighbourhood watch schemes have been established up and down the UK for this exact reason.
We all hope 2021 and beyond will be better than 2020, we don’t have much control at the moment but one thing you do have control over is the security of your property.
As we have just explained technology is changing and it’s changing at a rapid pace. This technology can improve all of our lives with increased convenience and increased security, their vulnerability to hacking, which can be mitigated with the correct steps. Another disadvantage is with all new tech usually the premium price while this cannot be mitigated, you can spend what money you do have wisely to have the biggest impact.
Ensure your security is taken seriously, think about modern security appliances and how they can benefit your security but also think about traditional security assets and how they can be better utilized to provide the best level of protection.