Dedicated to helping people make themselves safe and their Homes harder targets,...or when James Bond meets Soccer Mom

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Defending Your Home

This article is from a piece titled "Developing a Layered Defense" written by Dave Steen and posted on the International Forecaster. [http://theinternationalforecaster.com/ Developing a Layered Defense, By Dave Steen]

Defending your home in a time of crisis is much different than defending it against common criminals. The conventional wisdom of home security is basically worthless in a survival situation, as people aren’t going to be acting like normal criminals. Anyone who tries attacking your home during a crisis situation is probably going to be more desperate than normal criminals are, causing them to be less circumspect and do things that normal criminals wouldn’t do.

There’s also a good chance that anyone attacking your home in the midst of a crisis will do so in a group. That increases the danger to you and your family considerably, even if they aren’t trained warriors. Just dealing with sheer numbers makes home defense much harder than dealing with one or two criminals. If ten people are shooting at you, even ineffectively, the chances of getting hit are much greater.

Legal Statement on Defense.

The law allows for the use of deadly force in self defense. The specific term that’s used in the legal world is that your life is in “imminent danger.” In other words, someone has to be facing you, pointing a weapon at you, be in range of that weapon and have made it clear that they intend to use the weapon.

All of that can happen at once and none of it requires any words. Generally speaking, unless it’s a friend joking around with a squirt gun, pointing any gun at you is considered imminent danger, unless they are out of range. So, a guy a football field away from you with a pistol isn’t really an imminent danger, but one who is 50 feet or less away is.

Some states add to your right to self defense, the rights to defend others, your home and your property. Before anything happens, you need to be sure of what the law is in your area. Even if there is a breakdown in society, you can be sure that when things are restored the hanky wringers will be looking to prosecute anyone who had to defend themselves; so, you want to be in the right.

Where’s the Fight?

In normal times, a criminal has to be in your home, or trying to get into your home, to be considered an imminent threat. However, I think that could be challenged in a situation where you have multiple attackers. Say there’s a breakdown in society where food is scarce and ten hunger-crazed people attack your home to get your food. In such a case, I’m pretty sure you’d be justified shooting as soon as you are sure that it is your house that they intend to attack.

You can’t really be sure of that until they cross your property line and are actually on your property. As long as they’re in the street, there’s an equally good chance that they will go to someone else’s house or just walk on by. Even standing there looking at your house isn’t a sure indication they are going to attack; they could be talking about your ugly paint job.

But once they cross your property line, with weapons in their hands, it’s reasonable to assume that they are attacking you. That’s when you shift from watching mode to fighting mode. In such a case, where you are outnumbered, it’s better to have the fight outside of your home, than inside. If they manage to breach your home and get inside, your chances of survival are drastically reduced. By fighting while they are outside and you are inside, you have the advantage of cover and concealment.

Building Your Layered Defense

A classic layered defense consists of three layers. Many old castles and forts were designed in this manner. The outer defense is to slow down the attackers and give you a first counterattack. The second layer of defense is the main defense used for holding off the enemy. Finally, there’s a third layer which is used as a last stand, if the perimeter is breached.

You can and should do the same thing with your home. That way, when that hungry gang shows up at your door, you’re ready to deal with them. Your three layers are:

Your property’s perimeter

Your home’s perimeter

Your safe room

Each of these is created differently and actually has a different purpose. We need to understand that purpose, in order to create those defenses correctly.

The property perimeter

Since you can’t definitely state that they are an imminent threat until they step onto your property, you can’t use your perimeter as it would normally be used in warfare. However, you still need that perimeter, as it can do a lot for you.

When we talk about perimeter defenses, we’re talking about everything from your property line to the walls of your home. You aren’t limited to just the line that is the outer perimeter of your property. Every foot of that space can be useful.

Some would want to build a ten foot tall cement wall around their property as their perimeter defense. While I can definitely sympathize with that desire, I can’t agree with it. Doing so would simply make your home obvious as someplace with something worth protecting. In other words, it would increase the chances of attack. Your perimeter defenses much be something less obvious.

The biggest thing your perimeter can do for you, without appearing obvious is to shape the battle to come. You can use it to steer the attackers to where you want them to be, so that they are under your guns. To do this, simply make it difficult to enter your property by any other means than the one which will direct them to your ambush. As most people will naturally take the easiest route, you make sure that you have one obvious easy route that they can take.

Don’t let them cross that line without providing you with some sort of warning though. You need some sort of perimeter alarm which lets you know that your perimeter has been breached. That way, you can react to the fact that you have intruders on the property.

Finally, fill the space between the perimeter and your home with traps. You don’t need anything big or fancy here, caltrops and broken glass will do just fine. The idea is to reduce their enthusiasm and get them to say in the killing zone that you’ve identified.

The home’s perimeter

Your home’s perimeter needs to be hardened. That means making it harder to break through the perimeter. A dead-bolted door can be busted open with one swift kick, so you need more than that. Windows can be broken open with the butt of a rifle, so you need to do more there as well.

The obvious purpose of hardening your home is to make it so that the attackers can’t easily break in. That way, they’re stuck outside, between your perimeter and your home, right where you want them. This isn’t all that hard and you can do the whole thing yourself.

The safe room

I don’t agree with the common idea of a safe room for a crisis situation. Normal safe rooms are intended to be a place where you can hide when a criminal breaks into your home, while you’re waiting for the cavalry to arrive and rescue you. The problem is, in a crisis situation, there won’t be any cavalry coming to rescue you.

What I mean by a safe room is a room that everyone in the family can get to easily, where you can make your last stand before escaping. If you can, make it a room where they have to come down a long hallway to attack you. That way, you can shoot at them as they come down the hallway. If you can fortify the room against bullets, do so. But make sure that you have a good escape route to use, once you manage to beat off the attack. You don’t want to fight off a second attack from that place.

This is what they used to do in the old castles. The keep (main building) would be the “safe room” to make the last stand. There would always be a secret escape route to use, so that the lord and lady could escape while their knights fought a defensive action. The same idea will work for you, with the exception that you don’t want to sacrifice any knights to make your escape.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Avoid This Text Message Scam!

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about a new text message scam that's fooling people into sharing their personal information with thieves.

The scam

The BBB says con artists are sending people text messages that appear to look like an alert from their bank. The message says you need to update your profile information and then provides a link to a website. The URL may even include the name of your bank.

According to the BBB, once you click on the link, it takes you to a form that appears to be on the bank's website. The page will then ask you to "confirm" your identity by entering your name, user ID, password and/or bank account number. Do not do it! And even if it really is your bank sending you a message, don't risk the possibility that it's not. Taking the time to log in to your online bank account through a secure network is a lot easier than the trouble you'd be dealing with after thieves get their hands on your personal information.

Text scams are nothing new and the BBB warned consumers about a similar one back in 2013.

The lesson: Even if a message appears to be from a trusted source, don't trust it!

Here's a general rule of thumb for avoiding these types of scams: Do not click on any link in any email or text message that you were not expecting. If there's a question and you think there's a legitimate message or notification intended for you, go directly to the official website of whatever business it is and check for any notifications there.

If your bank needs you to update your profile, you should be able to find that information by logging in to your account separately through the official site -- or by calling your bank directly.

Here are some additional tips from the BBB for you to protect yourself from text message scams:

  • Just hit delete! Ignore instructions to confirm your phone number or visit a link. Some scam texts instruct you to text "STOP" or "NO" to prevent future texts. But this is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
  • Read your phone bill. Check your phone bill for services you haven't ordered. Some charges may appear only once, but others might be monthly "subscriptions."
  • Know your rights. Real commercial text messages must provide a free, easy way for you to opt out of future communication.
  • Know how to combat spam texts. In Canada, an anti-spam law covers text messages. Learn more about reporting and fighting spam here. In the U.S., forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This will alert your cell phone carrier to block future texts from those numbers.
  • Watch out for look-alike URLs. Just because a URL has the name of a real company in it, doesn't mean it's legitimate. Anyone can register a sub-domain (realcompany.website.com) or similar URL (realcompany1234.com).
  • Ask your phone carrier about blocking third-party charges. Mobile phone carriers permit outside businesses to place charges on your phone bill, but many carriers also allow you to block these charges for free.
  • Protect your information
If you're looking for mobile security, try a freemium service called Lookout.com, which offers protection for smartphones running Android, Blackberry, or Windows. And don't forget antivirus on your computer at home too. Check out Clark's list of free options for virus, spyware, and malware protection.

Friday, September 16, 2016

5 Things About Home Security Intruders Don't Want You to Know

Few people are as familiar with home security systems as the professionals who install them. But unfortunately, there are some people who have an interest in understanding how your home's alarm system works: intruders. 

They not only know how your system works, but there are a few things they hope you don't realize about it. Here are five things intruders don't want you to know about your home security system.

The Alarm's Panel Is Visible Through Your Front Door.

If your home has a fancy front door with decorative glass, your alarm system panel may be in plain view of anyone standing on your step. 

An intruder just needs to peer through the glass, and they'll be able to see the lights that indicate whether your alarm is activated. An activated alarm may not deter a professional burglar, but an opportunistic amateur will be tempted if you aren't home and they can see that the alarm isn't set. 

If your alarm is already installed and it's in plain view from your front step, you can try placing a tall houseplant so that it obstructs the view of the panel.

Your Alarm Only Works When It's Set

Alarms only work when they're set. Everyone knows this, but homeowners don't always set their security system. 

In a survey conducted by Nationwide, 30 percent of homeowners admitted to leaving their security system off while they ran "a quick errand." 

This is especially disconcerting, considering that the U.S. Department of Justice's data shows that most burglaries occur during the day when no one is home.

You Should Have a Sensor on Your Master Bath Window

Your master bathroom window is one of the favorite entry points for intruders, as it leads directly to where you likely keep your jewelry. 

Most homeowners' valuables are kept either in their bedroom or in the attached bathroom, but few consider installing a sensor specifically for the master bathroom window. 

Even if you forgo window sensors to save on an alarm system, consider having a single one installed on this window at least.

Alarms Make Intruders Hesitate, Even If Just for a Second

A home security system will not physically prevent an intruder from breaking into your home. That's what locks are for. An unexpected alarm, however, will make an intruder hesitate momentarily.

Even if the noise only delays them a moment, the slight pause could be significant. According to Yahoo Homes, intruders aim to spend less than 60 seconds breaking into homes. A three-second pause could eat up 5 percent of the time they plan on using to find a way in. 

Although it’s very short, this could be enough time to make them retreat.

Your Neighbors Will Ignore Breaking Glass

You can't rely on your neighbors, even if you have nosy ones, to hear a window breaking. Even if they're home and notice the sound of crashing glass, they're unlikely to investigate. 

They may pause and wait to hear the sound again, but they probably won't take action unless it's repeated. If you're concerned about an intruder coming in through a window, your security system needs to have a sensor that will detect broken glass.

When viewed through the eyes of a potential intruder, you may see several vulnerabilities in your home security system. 

Thankfully, though, these are usually easily remedied. If you'd like to learn more about how you can make your alarm system more secure, contact Vivint. They will gladly discuss any potential liabilities with you and suggest possible solutions.

[Article from Vivint Smart Home]