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Security threats to wireless alarms?

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tech publication Wired magazine may not focus too closely on alarm monitoring or residential security, but it does devote a good deal of ink to assessing network security threats, no matter what the context.

Just last month a writer for the magazine, Mat Honan, painted a funny dystopian sketch of the connected home in revolt, commandeered by morally wayward hackers on some perverse quest for Internet notoriety. Identifiable only by screen names evoking bad cyberpunk films from the 90s, these lonesome code junkies are intent on doing everything from dousing homes by activating sprinkler systems to invading your privacy in all the imaginable ways in a home amply stocked with network cameras.

The piece, titled “The Nightmare on Connected Home Street,” is of course meant to be hysterical: The narrator is jarred awake at four a.m. by the blaring pulse of dub step music exploding from his connected pillow. The vignette ends, a few hours later, with a bare and awesomely memorable paragraph: “The skylights open up. The toaster switches on. I hear the shower kick in from the other room. It’s morning.”

It’s all just a thought experiment, but the piece is entertaining and well worth a read.

Interestingly enough, about a month later, Wired turned its attention to security again, this time focusing on concerns that, surprisingly, have nothing to do with Internet connected devices. This time, the article dealt with security vulnerabilities related to wireless home alarms, which, according to a pair of researchers cited in the article, could be comprised—the alarm being either suppressed (via “jamming”) or made to deliver false signals. The researchers found identical problems with a number of brands.

The issue, according to the report, has to do with radio frequency signals. While the conversation is understandable for a layman, it can seem a bit arcane. In sum, the researchers found that the systems “fail to encrypt or authenticate the signals being sent from sensors to control panels,” according to the report, “making it easy for someone to intercept the data, decipher the commands, and play them back to control panels at will.” Would-be malefactors, the report says, can do this relatively easily.

The researchers cited in the article—Logan Lamb and Silvio Cesare—plan to present their findings at the Black Hat security conference, a computer security conference held in Las Vegas next week. I’m eager to here more about their findings and to see what kind of impact the research could have.  

Security threats to wireless alarms?

 - 
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tech publication Wired magazine may not focus too closely on alarm monitoring or residential security, but it does devote a good deal of ink to assessing network security threats, no matter what the context.

Just last month a writer for the magazine, Mat Honan, sketched a funny, dystopian picture of the connected home in revolt, commandeered by morally wayward hackers on some perverse quest for Internet notoriety. Identifiable only by screen names evoking bad 90s cyberpunk films, these lonesome code junkies are intent on doing everything from dousing homes by activating sprinkler systems to invading your privacy in all the imaginable ways in a home well stocked with cameras.

The piece, titled “The Nightmare on Connected Home Street,” is of course meant to be hysterical: The narrator is jarred awake at four a.m. by the pulse of dub step music exploding out of his connected pillow. The vignette ends, a few hours later, with a bare and awesomely memorable paragraph: “The skylights open up. The toaster switches on. I hear the shower kick in from the other room. It’s morning.”

It’s all just a thought experiment, but the piece is entertaining and well worth a read.

Interestingly enough, about a month later, Wired turned its attention to security again, this time focusing on concerns that, surprisingly, have nothing to do with Internet connected devices. This time, the article dealt with security vulnerabilities related to wireless home alarms, which, according to a pair of researchers cited in the article, could be comprised—the alarm being either suppressed (via “jamming”) or made to deliver false signals. The researchers found identical problems with a number of brands.

The issue, according to the report, has to do with radio frequency signals. While the conversation is understandable for a layman, it can seem a bit arcane. In sum, the researchers found that the systems “fail to encrypt or authenticate the signals being sent from sensors to control panels,” according to the report, “making it easy for someone to intercept the data, decipher the commands, and play them back to control panels at will.” Would-be malefactors, the report says, can do this relatively easily.

The researchers cited in the article—Logan Lamb and Silvio Cesare—plan to present their findings at the Black Hat security conference, a computer security conference held in Las Vegas next week. I’m eager to here more about their findings and to see what kind of impact the research could have.  

Poll: Readers view door-to-door scams as major problem

Impassioned responses reveal just how much door-knocking scams rankle those in the industry
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07/30/2014

YARMOUTH, Maine—Door-to-door scams were given a big stage at ESX 2014, where ADT held a press conference devoted to rooting the problem out, with representatives from law enforcement, CSAA and ESA weighing in.

Amherst Alarm takes 'deliberate' path to success

A considered approach to everything from products to services has ensured three decades of steady growth for N.Y. company
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07/30/2014

AMHERST, N.Y.—Amherst Alarm, one of the nation’s leading alarm companies, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. CEO Tim Creenan credits his company’s long-term success to its "slow and deliberate" approach to business.

Centrals get social

Social media on the rise for many reasons
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07/30/2014

Social media may not be a major revenue generator at this point, but third-party monitoring stations are making more use of popular social media sites to reinforce traditional sales and marketing efforts, according to a group of executives from five well known third-party monitoring companies who spoke to Security Systems News for this report.

Study: Hybrid suppression systems need own standards

Part water mist, part gas suppression systems, the new technology isn’t addressed by current NFPA standards, new research concludes
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07/30/2014

QUINCY, Mass.—A hybrid fire suppression system is a combination water mist and gas suppression system, and because this new technology is a hybrid, there is no one NFPA standard that covers it. Should there be? A recently released study looked to answer that question.

Talking keypads and panels with Karen Sullivan

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07/30/2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Security Systems News recently caught up with Karen Sullivan, recently named sales manager at Z-Tech Central, to discuss how she handles security at home.

Specifically Speaking: F. Patrick Mahoney, CannonDesign

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07/29/2014

Specifically Speaking features Q-and-A with a different security consultant every month. In July, we spoke to F. Patrick Mahoney, senior associate at Grand Island, N.Y.-based CannonDesign.

ESX 2014 draws more than 2,000 security professionals

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07/29/2014

IRVING, Texas—ESX 2014, held in June in the Music City Center of Nashville, drew more than 2,000 professionals and 200-plus exhibitors, according to a news release from the Electronic Security Association.

MobileHelp nabs Frost & Sullivan award

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07/29/2014

BOCA RATON, Fla.—MobileHelp, a provider of mobile PERS solutions, based here, recently won Frost & Sullivan’s 2014 North American Price Performance Value Leadership Award in the PERS category, according to a joint news release.

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