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Category: Security + Monitoring

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Secure Your Smart Home: A 6-Step Guide to Protecting Your Devices

The average American home now has 20.2 connected devices inside of it, and by 2025, the number of smart homes in the U.S. is expected to reach 77 million. Unfortunately, like any connected device, smart home tech can be hacked.

“If you have a lot of smart home devices and think there’s no reason to be concerned – it’s a recipe for disaster,” says Eugenia Blackstone, Chief Marketing Officer at Iris® Powered by Generali. “It’s important to educate yourself and know what you can do to reduce your risk.”

Eugenia recently stopped by the vipHome Podcast and shared with us simple ways to help protect your smart home from hackers and other digital threats.

Is the threat real?

Almost three in four homeowners with smart home tech devices worry that someone can gain access to their device without their permission, but is the threat real? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. In fact:

  • 9% of families have had hackers gain access to a device.
  • 16% had their personal data sold to other companies.
  • 11% had suffered some sort of virus or spyware infection on their device.

“On top of that, smart tech owners deal with issues like their private information becoming public, companies using or tracking their online activity for purposes the user didn’t intend or consent to,” says Eugenia.

There have been unwanted recordings of homeowners’ voices, images, and activities, which can lead to identity theft.

“Hackers are always trying to be one, two, three steps ahead, so it’s important that you do as much as you can to reduce your risk,” says Eugenia.

Six steps to a safer smart home

While you can’t protect your home from every digital threat, these seven simple steps can help to lower your risk of a smart home hack and can help to keep personal information private.

Step 1: Gain awareness.

Before you can protect your home, you must understand the digital threats that can harm it and your smart home tech.

“Educating yourself automatically brings your risk down,” says Eugenia.

Step 2: Change your passwords.

changing your passwords

Update your passwords frequently.

This easy and simple step is often overlooked, but its importance cannot be understated.

“Anything you can do to consistently change your passwords and use unique passwords is going to drastically lower your risk,” says Eugenia.

Also, avoid reusing passwords. If one password is compromised, all the accounts that use that password will be compromised. If one of them is your email or other sensitive accounts, you could be in trouble.

“Around tax time, you may have your Social Security number in there, W-2s, things like that, in your email,” says Eugenia.

So, make sure to update your passwords frequently and limit your password usage to one account.

Step 3: Set up a separate Wi-Fi router for your smart home devices.

Some experts recommend setting up two separate secure Wi-Fi networks at home – one for your personal devices and one for your smart home products.

“Now you’ve got two different networks that you’re managing and passwords you need to remember,” says Eugenia, “but that can be beneficial and help to protect your personal information and privacy.”

Step 4: Update your devices.

a smart home device

Updates can patch vulnerabilities.

Many major data breaches in the last 10 years have been attributed to ignored security updates.

“Most of the time, those device updates are patching some sort of security vulnerability that the company has either discovered or that’s been made aware to them,” says Eugenia.

Updates are the manufacturer’s way of correcting a security issue.

“If you’re not doing the updates, then you’re really leaving yourself an open door for cyber criminals to attack,” says Eugenia.

Keep in mind: You can set your devices to auto-update and some devices may need to be plugged in or have a certain battery percentage to update.

“It’s also not a bad practice to check every 30 days or so and make sure the updates have downloaded,” says Eugenia.

Step 5: Consider security add-ons.

Add-ons can provide additional security to your smart home tech devices. The most common add-ons to security are firewalls and antivirus software, which have become ubiquitous.

“Both of those are incredibly important in protecting devices from hackers and are pretty common now on a lot of devices,” says Eugenia.

Additional security add-ons may include:

  • Anti-phishing programs that can detect software that is known for phishing.
  • Anti-ransomware that can help protect users’ data and prevent an attack.
  • A data scrambler that changes keystrokes to protect passwords and other information.

“We have some ways to go before some of the best things out there become basic add-ins,” says Eugenia. “The best thing consumers can do is really be proactive about asking, ‘What sort of additional protections do I get with this device?’”

Step 6: Do your due diligence.

a woman on the phone in front of a computer

Complete your due diligence.

Before you ever buy a smart home device, research the manufacturer. Look at their website to see which can provide you with protection and value privacy. Consider calling their customer service to learn more about their product and security protocols.

“It is something that may in the moment feel like a headache, but it may end up saving you a huge headache down the road,” says Eugenia.

Make sure to choose companies that demonstrate a commitment to data privacy.

“Companies do this by making it easy to set up automatic updates on their devices or proactively partnering with a provider, like Iris, to offer you identity protection or online data protection,” says Eugenia.

What to do if your smart home tech is hacked

There are a variety of ways that hackers can infiltrate your system. One of the most common is through your Wi-Fi network. Once hackers gain access to your network, they have access to any device connected to it.

Hackers can also enter through a particular device – a smart light bulb, baby monitor, or a video doorbell. With the exception of ransomware, most homeowners won’t know they have been hacked until long after it’s happened.

a security camera for a baby - how to prevent your smart home devices

Make sure what’s most important to you is seccure.

Once you notice anomalies, such as devices moving very slowly or acting oddly, the first thing you should do is unplug, shut off the power source, and/or disconnect the device. Then reach out to the manufacturer of the device, who can help get the device working safely and properly again. Of course, make sure you contact the actual manufacturer.

“Make sure you’re going to that device’s website and looking up the customer service for that device, not just contacting some random tech support, not asking Alexa to contact tech support for you,” warns Eugenia.

Some scammers will purposely infiltrate a system and tell you the system has been compromised to trigger a call to a phony tech support number. That’s why it’s important to keep ahead of hackers and update your devices, change your passwords, and complete other safety protocols.

“The bad guys are always working to stay one step ahead, so it’s really important that customers be vigilant,” says Eugenia.

Keep your home safe and secure

Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app can help. In less than four minutes, enjoy a new way to manage your home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

Download the app today!

Learn More

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Top Home Internet Safety Tips from the NCA to Keep Your Info Secure

Do you have more than three computers in your home? According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, one of those computers has malware on it. Almost half of all American adults (47%) have had their personal information exposed by cyber criminals, and 600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked daily.

How can you keep your family and information safe when surfing the internet at home?

“It’s not as complicated as some of us can make it out to be,” says Lisa Plaggemier, executive director of the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA). “The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Lisa recently shared with us important home internet safety tips every homeowner needs to know (including you)! 

To connect or not to connect?

Most households are now running an entire network of devices that are all linked to the internet. Before purchasing your next device or even start on your smart home journey, consider if you really need that smart toaster.

“I don’t have anything that doesn’t absolutely positively need to be connected because there’s an old phrase in cybersecurity,” says Lisa, who has headed the NCA for more than four years. “If it’s connected, it’s hackable.”

Even smart lights come with security risks and have been used to plant malware.

While many smart home devices help with energy efficiency and convenience – thermostats, TVs, lights, cameras, locks – they also come with risks to our privacy and security. 

“We’re very quick as a society to trade off convenience for those other things,” says Lisa. “In most cases, we don’t understand the tradeoff we’re making and the role we play in making sure that our security and our privacy are protected.”

Top home internet safety tips

a router on a table in a home
Change your router’s default name and password.

A few quick tips you can do to protect your information and privacy include:

1. Change your default router name and password.

“Don’t use the name of your router or the password that it came with,” says Lisa. “There are default passwords on routers when you take them out of the box, and unfortunately, you can Google those. They’re very easy to find online.”

2. Keep your devices’ software up to date.

“A lot of those updates include security fixes known as patches,” says Lisa, “so it’s really, really important to run those.”

NCA recommends homeowners set up automatic updates, so homeowners don’t hit “remind me later” and miss an important update. If you can’t set a device to update automatically, then complete the updates your device notifies you.

“My device flashes color when there’s new updates,” says Lisa. 

3. Set up a guest network.

“You should have a network for your family and then a guest network for guests,” says Lisa. “Then you can also use the guest network for all those devices that we talk about – the Internet of Things devices or IoT devices.”

This way, your private information – banking, home insurance, emails, etc. – stays private.

If you work from home, use your guest network for work-related business and use your company’s VPN to secure the connection.

4. Use VPN when away from your private network.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are generally used for remote work as they provide the same protections to workers and computers at home that are provided in the office on the corporate network. They are also great for personal use.

“I like VPNs for personal use as well, especially if you are not at home and you’re in a hotel or at a coffee shop,” says Lisa. “They’re a lot more affordable than they used to be for individuals.”

Read before changing your passwords!

A strong password written on a piece of paper - home internet safety tips
Make sure your passwords are strong.

The advice on passwords has changed over the last couple of years. Many organizations used to encourage people (and employees) to change passwords every 60 days or so. That’s not the case anymore.

“The National Institute of Science and Technology discovered that [recommendation] led to a whole bunch of bad habits,” says Lisa. “We started using patterns like just changing a few numbers or letters but using the same core password.”

This makes it easy for hackers to use software to crack those passwords by working through iterations. If even one password is stolen in a breach, more than one account could be vulnerable.

Today, you may be able to keep your password indefinitely if you complete the following simple steps.

1. Use complex passwords and multifactor authentication (MFA) for every single account.

a person logging into an account with multifactor authentication - home internet safety tips
Keep your account as safe as possible.

“If your passwords are long and complex and you’ve secured the account with MFA, then you don’t need to worry about changing the password,” says Lisa. 

Since there have been so many data breaches and many of us use the same password for multiple accounts, MFA can help to keep your information safe.

Explains Lisa, “MFA means that if somebody has your password or a version of your password, they can’t get into your account with just that password alone unless they also have access to your phone or your computer.”

NCA recommends authenticator apps with facial recognition.

“I find the authenticator apps incredibly easy to use if you have facial recognition on your phone,” says Lisa. “You get that push notification. All you have to do is look at your phone and boom, that’s it. You’re into your account.”

2. Use password managers.

“Even though there’s some bad press on those lately, we’re still fans of password managers,” says Lisa.

You may wonder about the safety of a password manager since many people assume they are “putting all their eggs in one basket.” However, password managers are very secure. All you have to do is keep track of the password for the password manager, and it remembers everything else.

“It can also think of a long complex password for a new account a lot faster than I can,” says Lisa, “and it can type my credentials a lot faster than I can.”

Password managers also make it easier and safer to share passwords, especially with family members.

“We all text passwords to each other. We have emailed passwords to each other. All these things are much less secure than a password manager,” says Lisa.

3. Log out of accounts.

“If a device isn’t powered up and not connected to the internet, it can’t be accessed,” says Lisa. “I’ll say the same for your online accounts. If you’re not logged into them all the time, it’s a lot harder for somebody else to break into that account.”

4. Only give access to data when necessary.

A phone with location settings on - home internet safety tips
Only give your apps the information they need.

“A rule of thumb as far as security and privacy settings go – you should give [apps] access only to the data that they need to provide the service or convenience to you,” says Lisa.

One such example is OpenTable, which is an app used to find local places to eat and make restaurant reservations.

“Clearly, OpenTable needs access to my location data on my phone,” says Lisa. “It doesn’t need access to things like my photos or my contacts.”

However, when people are hungry and downloading the app for the first time, they may accept certain settings without reading the terms and conditions. App users need to change their mindset and prioritize their privacy with apps.

“Just enough data and not a bite more,” says Lisa. “That’s a good way to think about it.”

You’ll also need to be conscious to setting changes and terms and conditions updates.

“Settings that we configured six months ago might have gotten reconfigured in the process of running updates without us realizing what was going on,” says Lisa.

It’s a good habit to check your privacy updates on a routine basis (monthly or quarterly) and see what changes have been made. Sometimes, these settings and terms and conditions may be difficult to find, which is why staysafeonline.org created a list of these for social media and other frequently used websites.

Where to keep your home information

As mentioned earlier, your phone and your email are not secure, and even your photos can easily be compromised. Random apps may have access to the information on your phone, and you do not want your homeowners insurance or other important documents available to hackers.

“In our house, we keep the originals in a bank safe deposit box,” says Lisa, “and then we keep scanned copies in the cloud.”

Keep your documents in a secure cloud - home internet safety tips
Keep your home documents in a secure digital location.

This is especially important in the event of a home disaster, such as a fire or terrible flood.

“If you think about the worst-case scenario, you need to be able to access these documents,” says Lisa. “What if it were the beginning of a three-day weekend holiday and the banks are closed until Tuesday? That’s why I say don’t just keep a paper copy in the safe deposit box.”

Keeping scanned copies in the cloud can help you get access to your documents with a simple computer or device and an internet connection.

The vipHome.app can help! (Learn more below.) 

Where and how to start your home internet safety efforts

The important thing is to start, and an easy place to begin is with a password manager. First, pick one after completing research. (Tom’s Guide and Consumer Reports have reviews on password managers.) Then, start small.

“You don’t have to put all your passwords in there at once or change all your passwords on everything all at once,” says Lisa. “Load in your most important accounts, like your financial services accounts, your homeowner’s insurance, etc.”

Once you install the manager on your browser, it will ask you if you want to add different accounts that you visit as you visit them. If you’re using the same password in multiple places, it will prompt you to change that. If you’re using passwords that are too weak, it will prompt you to change those as well.

“Don’t be intimidated,” says Lisa, “Just start somewhere, and you’ll see how easy it can be.”

Keep your home information secure

Between hurricanes, home fires, and hackers, you need some place to secure your home information. The vipHome.app can help! Our home management app gives you one secure place to store all your home documents and receipts, and our servers are HIPAA-compliant. So you know your information is safe.

In less than four minutes, you can download the app, claim your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

Get the app today!

Learn More

a homeowner testing their app and smart camera connection

Top 7 Home Security Tips to Keep Your Living Space as Safe as Houses

Even in the safest neighborhoods, you can still find a broken window. So how can you keep your home as safe as can be and gain peace of mind? Our experts put together this super quick guide with seven home security tips to help safeguard your family and largest financial asset from burglars and other threats! 

Tip #1 – Make your home smart (and safer)

Not everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, especially burglars. That’s why one of the easiest deterrents of break-ins and burglaries is installing smart home tech. Simple additions such as a video doorbell, motion-detection lights and cameras, and door and window sensors can notify you of uninvited visitors. 

DIY Home Security with Cove

You should also consider installing smart locks on your exterior doors. Unsure if you locked your door? You can check the app! Some models allow you to lock your door from afar, just in case you forgot to do so on your way out.  

Tip #2 – Consider installing a security system 

Whether you have the latest PlayStation, a large screen TV, or Wayne Gretzky’s hockey stick, one of the best ways to protect your home (and stuff!) is with a home security system. Experts say that a home with a security system is 300% less likely to be burglarized than one without a security system, and most models not only have central monitoring but also additional safety features. Many come with smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring, water sensing, and even panic buttons.  

Before you decide on a security system, check different companies, packages, and inclusions. Then choose the best one to protect your home and family. 

Tip #3 – Secure your exterior doors 

Not all doors are created with safety in mind, and with 56% of break-ins happening at your exterior doors, you need to make sure yours are secure. Are your exterior doors at least 1¾” thick and made of heavy, solid wood or metal? Do they have quality deadbolt locks? (Chain locks are great for additional protection but are not a substitute for deadbolts.)

Be wary of doors with glass panes. If the glass is too close to the lock, burglars can break it to reach inside and unlock your door.

Do your exterior doors have 3-inch or longer screws? Long screws not only connect the door to the door frame but also the frame of home. While that may not stop a burglar from getting in, it will make it harder for a burglar to get inside your home. The added time may help a neighbor to notice and call the authorities.

Speaking of Mrs. Kravitz – 

Tip #4 – Get to know your neighbors  

a good neighbor waving from her fence - home security tips
Get to know your neighbors!

This may shock you, but one of the best home security tips is having great neighbors. Sure, everyone loves being able to share a cup of sugar (people still do that, right?), but since most break-ins happen between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., you want someone nearby who may notice that’s not your car or truck in the driveway. 

When you’re on vacation, they can keep a look-out on your home. While we don’t suggest you leave them a key anymore, you can leave them an access code to your home’s smart lock, just in case they smell gas.

Tip #5 – Make your landscaping work for you 

Did you know that your landscaping can actually work against you? You know to cut your grass or have the landscapers over while you’re on vacation, but large bushes or trees near your home can give unwanted visitors places to hide. Overgrown vegetation is a favorite spot for burglars, too. 

Plant smaller shrubs near your home and trim and clear any excess brush from hedges, trees, and flower beds. You may also want to consider planting thorny bushes under windows to discourage access to your home, but if you ever lock yourself out and need to climb in a window, you might find yourself in a prickly situation. 

Tip #6 – Shine some light on your property

outdoor light shining at night - home security tips
Don’t forget to use LED lightbulbs!

Unfortunately, even with trimmed shrubs, shadows will form on your property at night. Exterior lights can help to illuminate dark areas and limit the number of shadows where any unwanted guests can hide. You should also consider installing motion detection lights, which can catch a burglar off guard. The sudden light may send them running from your property or at least alert you, so you can call the authorities. 

Tip #7 – Take routine safety precautions

Getting the most sophisticated alarm system won’t matter if you don’t arm it. If you forget to charge your video doorbell, then you won’t know who comes to your door. That’s why you need to make sure not to overlook simple home security tips, such as: 

  • Don’t open the door for anyone you don’t know as this allows a potential burglar to see inside your home. 
  • Absolutely never leave a spare key around your home. (Instead, install that previously mentioned smart lock.)
  • Check locks on windows, and always lock them at night.
  • If you leave windows open in warmer months, lift them no more than four inches and always close and lock them when leaving the house.
  • Rethink key holders and garage door openers placed right inside the door where they can be visible to thieves. Either place them out of sight or store them inside a drawer. 
  • If your home has a sliding door, you can reinforce it with a metal bar, or place a wooden or metal dowel in the tracks.
  • Frequently check outdoor fixtures and replace bulbs when needed. 
  • ​If you already have an existing security system, be sure to check that it is functioning properly. This can be a quick visual check on a monthly basis. Time it with your monthly smoke alarm test.
  • Check that your alarm system yard signs are clearly displayed to deter potential burglars. Even if you don’t have a monitored system, you may still benefit from having the signs clearly posted on your property.

Of course, don’t forget to create and update your home inventory frequently. 

Create your home inventory

​Not quite a home security tip but rather a “make your life easier” tip in the unfortunate event of a home robbery or home fire – consider creating a home inventory. This is a list of the valuable and important contents of your home and the specific details about each one, including the price, receipt of purchase, and a picture of large items. If a home break-in or home fire occurs, you can give your home inventory to your insurance company, who should reimburse you for your losses as per your homeowners insurance policy.  

Enjoy a new way to manage your home

Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app can help. In less than four minutes, enjoy a new way to manage your home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

Get it today!

Learn More

a homeowner holding a phone with a smart home app up

5 Absolute Genius Tips to Help Make Your Home Smart

Our phones are smart. Our cars are becoming smarter. It was only a matter of time before our homes followed suit. Of course, smart homes are more than just “cool.” Their security measures can help safeguard your largest asset and your most precious loved ones.

If you’re not sure how to make your home “smart,” our experts put together this quick go-to guide to get you started!

What you need to consider before starting your smart home journey

One of the first tips to a successful smart home tech journey is deciding if you’re going to DIY the installation or go all in with PSE (“pay someone else” to do it). If you’re not tech- or home-savvy, you may want to consider getting a home security system installed. Many security companies have a team who will install the smart home tech devices for you.

If you’re going the DIY route, then follow these simple tips:

Tip #1 – Create a plan for your smart home journey.

While you no longer have to stick to one company (Google, Amazon, Yale, GE Lighting, etc.), some smart home devices are not compatible with others. This may change as of this year with Matter, a new connectivity standard. Matter may be able to connect individual smart home tech products from more than 50 companies, but only time will tell if its implementation works. Until then, check to see if the devices you want in your home are compatible with each other.

Tip #2 – Set up a second router.

a router on a table in a home
Protect your devices with a second router.

If you’re going to be using Wi-Fi for your devices, then consider setting up a different router from your current home one. This should help to keep your devices running quicker and also keep your devices safe(r). If your home router or your smart home router is hacked, the devices on the opposite router won’t be compromised.

Tip #3 – Or skip the Wi-Fi.

If you don’t trust your Wi-Fi, then consider connecting your smart home devices to a Z-wave mesh network. This type of network uses low power and a different frequency than Wi-Fi, so it won’t interfere with your non-smart home devices. It also uses the same encryption as online banking and is used by nine out of 10 of the leading security companies. With this network, you shouldn’t get your smart thermostat hacked and upped to 90°F.

Check out our blog with the National Cybersecurity Alliance to find out more ways to protect your private information. 

Tip #4 – Contact your insurance company.

Since some smart home devices double as security devices, many insurance companies offer discounts for homeowners who install them. Just make sure that if you get a discount, you use your smart home devices. If you forget to charge your Ring doorbell and someone happens to break in that night, your theft claim can be denied.

Tip #5 – Explore the possibilities.

Between smart light bulbs that can turn different shades to refrigerators that can tell if you’re out of milk, the possibilities are (almost) endless when it comes to smart home technology. Make sure you take advantage of all smart home technology has to offer, including the ability to change the thermostat without ever getting out of bed. Welcome to the future!

DIY Home Security with Cove

Starter smart home tech

So where, exactly, do you begin your smart home journey? Here are a few products that are easy to install that can improve the safety and comfort of your home!

Step #1 – Start outside with a video doorbell

Indoors safety starts by protecting the exterior of your home, and a video doorbell is a first easy step into the world of smart home safety. A video doorbell allows you to see and speak with a visitor on your doorstep, even when you’re not home. If a “porch pirate” or burglar walks up to your front door, you’ll have them on camera.

Step #2 – Protect your home’s exterior

A natural next step is to install motion-activated cameras and lights around your property. These protect your property by illuminating dark areas and potentially catching would-be burglars off guard. They are also a plus if your trash bins usually get ransacked by raccoons or bears, though sometimes the sudden light will not scare off those creatures of the night.

Step #3 – Head indoor with cameras

If you’re looking for safety or to see your children come home from school, then indoor cameras may be next on your list. Just make sure to do your due diligence. Some cameras – even pet cameras – have been hacked, so you may want to consider getting cameras that record locally and don’t use a cloud service.

Step #4 – Warm up to the idea of smart thermostats

a homeowner turning down her thermostat
Turn up your comfort!

While programmable thermostats have been touted for some time as being energy efficient, smart thermostats take your energy-saving efforts up a notch. Forgot to turn down your thermostat before leaving home? You can do it from an app on your phone! If you keep your thermostat low during the day to save energy, then you can turn it up when you’re on your way home and turn it down again when you’re getting into bed – all from an app.

Step #5 – Go all in with the sensors

Whether you have the latest PlayStation, a large screen TV, or Wayne Gretzky’s hockey stick, one of the best ways to protect your home (and stuff!) is with a home security system. Experts say that a home with a security system is 300% less likely to be burglarized than a home without one, and most models not only have central monitoring but also additional safety features. Many come with smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring, water sensing, and even panic buttons.

Before you decide on your security system, check the different packages and inclusions, so you can choose the system and plan that best protects your home and family.

Enjoy a new way to manage your home

 

Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app can help. In less than four minutes, enjoy a new way to manage your home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

Get it today!

Learn More

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‘Tis the Season to Secure Your Home from Burglars and Porch Pirates

It’s the holiday season, which means it’s prime time for burglaries and package theft. In fact, a CNN study found that burglaries jump the week of Christmas, but even the everyday burglary stats are not jolly.

According to the FBI 

  • There were 1.2 million burglaries in 2018.
  • A burglary happens every 25.7 seconds.
  • Approximately 66 percent of all burglaries happened at residential properties.
  • The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,416, with an overall property loss of $3.4 billion.

Pew Research found only 13% of reported burglaries are solved by the police, which means if you lose something – it’s most likely gone for good.

So keep your holiday cheer this year by learning what the best deterrents for potential burglars are and how to prevent your packages from being stolen below!

Invest in a home security system

An alarm system is a real deterrent for holiday package thieves. Alarm.org found 90% of convicted burglars said they would avoid homes with alarm systems, and homes that have a security system are 300% less likely to be burglarized.

A home security system also provides peace of mind by letting you:

  • Monitor your home remotely and relax while you’re away.
  • Protect your home while you’re at work, considering that most home robberies occur between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Secure less frequently-visited entry points, like a basement window or the garage door.

Despite these alarming facts, 83% of U.S. households still do not have a security system. If you’re one of them, now’s the time to gift your home a security system. Just remember to activate it when leaving your home.

Not ready for a full-blown alarm system yet?

Start with smart home tech

Smart home tech now allows you to be an elf on your own shelf. Install a few security cameras outside, a video doorbell, motion lights, smart locks, etc. Some of these devices will let you see who is at your door, even when you’re not home, and they can also record suspicious activity, like someone stealing packages off your front porch.

You’ll also see if your dogwalker is hosting a party at your place. (True story!)

DIY Home Security - CoveKeep your home on its usual schedule

It may seem a bit counter-productive since burglars can learn your schedule, but you want to make sure a burglar doesn’t notice you’re not home. Use timers to turn on and off your lights, TV, and other appliances to make it look like you’re home even when you’re not.

Smart lights and smart plugs can help by giving you the power to switch on and off your lights from your phone.

Trust a neighbor

Give your neighbor a key to your house and the alarm code in case of an emergency. Ask them to monitor your home and collect newspapers and any flyers by your door.

This is important as burglars sometimes mark homes by placing a flyer in the mailbox or your screen door handle. If they see the flyer hasn’t been moved, potential burglars know you’re not home.

Remove any spare keys

set of keys in a lock on in a white door - tips to keep your home safe from burglars

Where do you keep your spare key?

You don’t still keep a spare key under the flowerpot, do you? How about a rock? Or even the mat? All the usual places people keep keys, a burglar knows where to search.

Instead, keep your friends close and your key at that trusted neighbor’s house. Or better yet, install a smart lock with a keypad, so you don’t even need the key anymore.

Get that doggy in the window

If you’re wondering, “Do burglars really avoid houses with dogs?” the answer is – yes! However, they only avoid homes with bigger breeds that can act as guard dogs. Burglars are not afraid of your teacup yorkie.

Use your delivery options

Getting a lot of packages this year? Prevent package theft by utilizing the options your delivery service present. Simply log in to the service’s website, search by tracking numbers, and click delivery options. You can ask the delivery drivers to drop the packages at an unusual locale, like a side door or back porch, or even have your packages delivered on the day of your choosing.

Home for the holidays quick safety tips

Christmas tree with presents underneath - tips to keep your home safe from burglars

Wait until Christmas Day to put out the presents.

Try these simple tips to keep your home safe from burglars, specifically during the holidays.

  • As tempting as it might be to put presents under the tree, keep gifts worth stealing out of sight until Christmas Day.
  • Even if you’re stepping out for a few minutes to look at holiday lights, keep your porch light and TV on.
  • Anytime you leave your home, lock your doors and windows.
  • Don’t run lights or cords through open windows or doors since leaving these open, even a crack, can give burglars an entrance.
  • Break down boxes for recycling rather than putting the boxes for your new devices on the street. (That would tell potential burglars what you got for Christmas.)
  • Don’t answer the door for someone you don’t know. Opening your door allows people to look inside your home and see the lay of the land. Instead, rely upon contactless delivery and only open your door to people you know.
  • Skip the “obligatory” holiday social media post. Posting while at a family member’s house can show you’re not home, and posting presents can show potential thieves what they can steal.

Upload and update your home inventory

Man taking a picture of his desk with a cell phone - tips to keep your home safe from burglars

Create your inventory in a home management app.

Unfortunately, things happen, and burglaries occur over the holiday season. Make sure you have your home inventory up to date – with a digital copy uploaded to the vipHome.app home management app – so in case of a break-in, you have any stolen items’ details.

You should also update your home inventory with the presents you receive. Any big items, like TVs or computers, should have a picture and receipt in the inventory.

Wish your insurance agent a happy new year

While theft is covered in homeowners insurance policies, some items, such as jewelry, may have limits. So you’ll definitely want to ask if you need additional coverage for the presents Santa brought this year, just in case you need to file a claim later.

Stay safe this holiday season and all year round!

Homeownership can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. The vipHome.app can help. In less than four minutes, enjoy a new way to manage your home. Simply download the app, register your home, and enjoy a simplified homeownership experience.

Download the app today!

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