The Definitive Guide to DIY Home Security

Your home security system is the first line of defense between your family and the dangers of home invaders.

Burglary, while not the most heinous crime in most people’s minds, can lead to financial troubles, loss of the feeling of security, damaged property, abduction, and even loss of life.

So let’s get a security system installed. Here’s our definitive guide on DIY home security.

Overview

  • What is a DIY Home Security System
  • 36 Cheap Ways to Secure Your Home
  • What Professional Burglars Look for in a Home Target
  • Homeowner Mistakes in Home Security

What is a DIY Home Security System?

Safety and security has always been an important consideration for homeowners.

If you're a homeowner, you can now have more peace of mind with a (do-it-yourself) DIY home security system.

Rather than paying an installation fee for a technician to visit and install the unit, customers receive the home security system and must install it themselves at no cost.

These popular alarm systems offer a range of options, and are less expensive than ones that are professionally installed.

DIY system popularity has increased greatly over the last few years, and they are now the number one choice among home security systems.

Unfortunately, there are a few downsides to installing your own DIY home security system:

  1. Lack of professional monitoring services.
  2. Prone to installation mistakes because of lack of expertise (leads to sensor errors, camera malfunction, motion detector errors, etc.).
  3. Reduced support when the system fails.
  4. Lower emergency response times.

At Best Home Security Companies, we recommend customers consider choosing a home security option that provides professional monitoring services.

Vivint: Professional Monitoring

Vivint Smart Home is ranked #1 out of all home security companies for a reason: month-to-month contracts, no upfront fees, excellent customer response, and quality home security devices.

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How to Install a Home Security System

Installation varies system to system but typically DIY home security systems are extremely easy to install.

Most systems have adhesive strips on the back of each piece that allows customers to place them anywhere in their home.

In addition, DIY systems make great use of magnets for quick installation on metal framed doors and windows.

Advantages of A DIY Home Security System

In many cases no tools are required when these security systems are being installed. Also, they are simple to install and set up.

You don't have to pay more money, and wait longer for your system to be installed by a professional trained technician. They are also wireless. That saves you from the burden of having to drill holes.

The wireless technology provides additional advantages.

It used to be that a burglar could get past a security system simply by knowing which wire to cut. Now it's not so easy.

The components to a DIY home security system are individually battery powered, and send signals with radio waves. It's the main reason why these systems are so easy to install, and to uninstall if you decide to move to another place.

Additional components to the security system can be added more easily.

They are programmable, which allow you to have a range of options.

Benefits of Home Security in General

Home security systems in general can prevent crime on many levels. But they also have many other benefits.

Take a look at all the benefits of home security and home automation systems:

  • There are many different kinds of these home security systems available today
  • The prices are much lower than what it costs to have an alarm system professionally installed, and is dependent on the amount of equipment you buy.
  • They can alert you of an intruder.
  • They can help you control the temperature of your home, saving you additional money.
  • They can also alert you when there's a fire, or when levels of carbon monoxide become too high in your home.
  • They can be set up to work with your smartphone. With the additional use of your smartphone and the right kind of software, you can control the settings of your DIY home security system even when you're miles away. You'll be able to know when someone is in your house. You'll also be able to unlock or lock the doors. You can even have the lights and television turn on or off so others won't know that no one is in the house.
  • The alarm systems can even send text messages to different phone numbers when something goes wrong, and allow you to watch activity that's on camera from your smartphone. In short, these popular new alarm systems put more control into your hands.

They offer many advantages compared to professionally installed systems, and they also don't cost as much. The range of options they provide makes it even more difficult for a burglar to get past them undetected, while also providing you with more peace of mind.

36 Cheap Ways to Secure Your Home

With more and more sophisticated systems for home security coming out that rely on smartphone use, it seems as though the "I don't have a smartphone" crowd is being left in the dust.

However, there are many ways that you can dress up your home with security without relying upon Wi-Fi or a monitored security system.

The idea is to make burglars think very strongly before attempting to enter your place. Make it always look occupied.

You've probably already heard of the usual tricks: When out of town, put a hold on your newspaper and mail delivery; have someone mow your grass; have someone park their car in your driveway, etc.

But let's refine these tactics so that they don't look staged. But really, get a home security system.

If you don't have the casheesh, then have fun with the following tips:

  1. You've heard the one about leaving a large dog bowl by the front door. But come on, what actual dog owner does this? It's still a good thing to do.
  2. Make it look used, not spanking clean. Keep a few morsels of food in it.
  3. Place it over a little mat, which adds authenticity.
  4. Don't put a dog's name like "King," "Duke" or "Bear" on the bowl to make the criminal think you have a huge mean dog. How many real dog owners label the bowl?
  5. Nearby place an old-looking doggie bed. The local vet clinic might have a used one they're willing to give away. A burglar won't be fooled by a bed that looks brand new. And make sure it's the biggest one possible.
  6. You've heard the one about placing a man's pair of boots by the door, right? So have burglars. Make this look less staged by placing a man's flip flops on the back porch or deck; this is a more likely place for them, for real; who leaves boots or flip flops outside the front door? Well, maybe some men do, but it looks less staged if they're in the back, and believe me, chances are pretty good that a burglar who's been eyeing your home intends to pay the back a little visit before making his ultimate move. And don't put a size 13 out; that looks staged. Make it a 10.
  7. Leaving a pair of boxing gloves on the deck will look staged, but placing one hand grip (you know, those squeezy resistance things to make your hand strong) on the dash of your car (if it's parked outside) won't. So do that. A burglar will think that you have a crushing grip.
  8. Also leave on your dash a man's pair of Nike's (but not ridiculously big). This way, the burglar not only will think a man lives there, but an athletic one-maybe a weight lifter. Leave a bodybuilding magazine on the front seat. (A karate magazine might look staged.)
  9. Invest in a top-notch deadbolt system.
  10. Use automatic light timers.
  11. Install a fake surveillance camera above your front door and in the back.
  12. Hang a portable alarm on your front door's inner door knob; an alarm will sound if the knob turns (the battery-operated alarm can be turned off with a switch).
  13. If you have horizontally-sliding windows, put Charlie bars or other blocking devices on the tracks to prevent them from being slid open.
  14. Put special film on your windows that prevents penetration with bricks and crowbars.
  15. Get a sticker that has a silhouette of a large dog that says, "I can make it to the gate in three seconds; can you?" and post it in a prime area. These stickers are on the market.
  16. Place home security stickers and signs on your property; you can obtain these without having to buy the actual system.
  17. Plant thorny shrubs around windows.
  18. Invest in motion detection sensors that flip on lights and alarms.
  19. Always keep your doors locked! Even when you're home! There's no such thing as a burglar who never works during the day, and rapists aren't stopped by daylight.
  20. Keep all windows locked! Yes, sex offenders and thieves really do slip in through windows.
  21. Learn self-defense and have the pepper spray strategically located in the house.
  22. Make sure your house's roofing is fire resistant. If not, get it remodeled.
  23. Not only should you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but you should also regularly inspect them for lint and dust buildup. Plus, they should all be integrated, so if one goes off in the kitchen, the ones in the bedrooms and even basement get triggered.
  24. If your mailbox isn't one that locks, get one, so this way you won't be leaving outgoing mail with sensitive information sitting in an unlocked box.
  25. If you need an extension cord for an outside appliance, make sure it's one that says: "Suitable for Use with Outdoor Appliances."
  26. Never leave any stickie notes on your door saying you'll be back in a few minutes...even if you're expecting a delivery.
  27. Know that if there's a power outage, the food in your freezer will last for up to 48 hours. Have a backup generator or only stock up on dry/canned goods.
  28. When you're done using an oily rag, set it outside to dry, then put it in a metal can with a lid. An oily rag is flammable even when not in contact with a flame.
  29. If a battery is non-rechargeable, don't try to charge it, as this could make it explode.
  30. To repel an intruder from getting in through your windows, plant thorny bushes around them.
  31. If you have a home security system, display the company's decals on your windows and signs in your yard. If you don't have a system, you can get these items online; display them anyways.
  32. When you get a snowfall, clear a path to your door, and better yet, shovel the driveway-even if you're not going anywhere, as this will make burglars think someone is home.
  33. Before leaving on any extended errands and especially travel, set your home phone's ringer to mute so that an incessantly ringing phone doesn't get a burglar's attention that you're not home.
  34. Before leaving town, put a vacation hold on your mail and newspaper, and tell a trusted adult of your travel plans.
  35. Before leaving for a trip, arrange with a trusted person to have them park their car in your driveway.
  36. While you're enjoying your vacation, avoid posting about it on social media. Burglars peruse social media to see who's not home.

The real goal when doing DIY home security is to make your home look as intimidating as possible for burglars and other types of home intruders.

Luckily, we know a great deal about what burglars look for in a potential victim.

Let’s take a look.

What Professional Burglars Look For in a Home Target

As a security analyst, I tell people that there are differences between the so-called professional burglar, and the small-time, bumbling or "dumb" kind of burglar who gets caught the first or second time they commit their crime.

This past January, Johnny Mejias, 50, didn't show he was the smartest burglar, but did show he was a most determined robber.

The online Chicago Tribune reports that he fled from police after breaking into a home, leaping from one garage roof to another, refusing to get down when police ordered him to give up.

Even a Taser shot didn't stop him; he jumped to flee, but was finally caught.

Homes that Professional Burglars Target

So what does the professional burglar look for when seeking out a home to rob?

  • For starters, the professional, savvy burglar will be very interested in houses with open shades/curtains where he could see inside to find out if anyone seems to be home. He may select houses for a few days.
  • The experienced burglar will also focus on a residence near a parking lot of a business, store, church, etc., so he can park his car in the lot where it won't stand out.
  • What will really get his attention is two (let alone more) unclaimed newspapers lying in the drive.
  • Another element is the home's lighting. A tip-off that the homeowner is away on vacation or business is an exterior light being on in broad daylight, that's still on in the middle of the night.

Homes that Professional Burglars Avoid

  • Yes, the thief really WILL probably avoid a house that has a "Beware of Dog" sign. Why take a chance?
  • Another feature that a discriminating crook will be scared of is signs of a security system, like stickers on windows, cameras and an alarm keypad.
  • Big army boots parked near a door or a big dog bowl send the message that either a dog or homeowner will bite!

Unfortunately, not all homeowners even know the basis of protecting their homes from the dangers of home invasion.

By learning from the mistakes of others, you can prepare your home even better.

Homeowner Mistakes in Home Security

Even smart homeowners make mistakes — it’s not like we have hours upon hours to dedicate to home security on top of all of the other responsibilities related to owning a home.

Let’s go over some of the most common home security mistakes made by homeowners.

Poor Password Etiquette 

Most homeowners do not update their passwords when setting up a home security system. 

This means that their security is in the hands of a “default password” in many cases. These passwords are easily guessed, making their “security system” more of a digital doorway into their home.

The smart Internet connected home security systems are meant to protect consumers from intruders but can they really do that when the top devices don't require even the bare minimum for password protection that we expect for our email and other web services, according to a study done by HP.

HP went out and bought the top ten smart home monitoring devices, like video cameras, motion sensors, alarm systems and tested them to see how easy they were to hack. Jason Schmitt, the vice president and general manager of HP's security products team helped in the study and was a bit surprised by the findings.

All ten of the devices had "significant vulnerabilities" in security of the device itself. Meaning the "security system" is not secure.

The most basic of those security holes involved the poor password practices

Some devices didn't require strong passwords, while all ten of the products tested failed to lock the account after a certain number of failed password attempts.

Your email account or FaceBook page requires stronger passwords than your home security system. HP declined to name the devices they used in their study.

"These are things that a lot of web companies have perfected, but when you move to a different (space) that doesn't specialize in web security those practices just kind of drift away," said Schmitt.

Just be smart when it comes to passwords:

  1. Update your password every 30 days.
  2. Make long, unique, hard-to-guess passwords.
  3. Don’t use the same password across multiple accounts.

Location Sharing

Do you know how often your smartphone tells third parties about your personal information? 

Do you even know that your mobile device is capable of sharing (i.e., leaking without your knowledge) information about you?

As for how often, it's a lot, courtesy of free apps. And if you only knew just how frequently this occurs...you'd probably do something about it.

That's what a study from Carnegie Mellon University says.

A report on the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science site explains that learning exactly how often these applications share private information causes people to quickly try to stop this by altering privacy settings.

The shared private information includes the user's location, phone call logs and contact lists. The sharing may occur thousands of times over a two-week period, with recipients including Facebook and Groupon.

Participants in this experiment were shocked at the frequency, which was revealed by an app permission manager. With this manager, the user can choose which applications can gain private information. This particular experiment used the AppOps manager for Android 4.3 (which has since been discontinued).

The study showed that users, when notified of precisely how many times their personal information was shared, jumped into action to restrict this. People really do care about their privacy being shared. It's just that in general, users don't have a clue just how much sharing goes on.

The report also points out that research continues on this topic, and it's making headway.

But the app permission manager, says the study, is not the be-all end-all solution.

And some users may be overwhelmed by the depth of privacy options on their smartphones.

All that being said, it is up to the user to do their homework before clicking "I agree" when downloading and installing an app.

Think about it, how uncool would it be if a burglar was fully informed of your whereabouts, home or not?

The same goes for any app tracking you.

About the Author:

Robert Siciliano is a personal and home security specialist for BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com.