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Wireless Security Systems

The security industry has gravitated from hard-wired (analog) toward wireless (digital) technologies, such as cellular and web-based VoIP or Broadband networks.  Today, over 27% of homes no longer have landlines, and this number is growing.  More than half of new security system installations use wireless technology. 

The trend is for wireless systems to also be web-enabled, which in some systems means that the control panel is “virtual” and accessible using software on your home computer or Smartphone.  The benefit to this is that security systems can be programmed remotely and customers can “co-monitor” or even “self-monitor” rather than hiring a central station to do it for them.  Not all customers who buy wireless systems choose this route.  As wireless technology improves, more central stations are accepting UL certified wireless security systems while subsequently upgrading their own servers to be able to successfully handle digital technology. 

Accessories

There is an enormous array of accessories to wireless home security systems. Remote panic buttons, for instance, can be placed anywhere near your person and since they emit a radio signal, they can be used to trigger the alarm even if the rest of the system hasn’t been turned on (while you’re still in the house).  Wireless passive infrared sensors are great for placing on the exterior perimeter of your property since they can be set to account for the size and weight of family pets.

Environmental Sensors

Environmental sensors can be added-on to any security system: they come in analog, digital (wireless) and hybrid varieties and are usually purchased separately.  In addition to extreme heat and freezing conditions, they can detect heavy winds, moisture, radon and carbon monoxide, resulting in maximum safety.

Vulnerabilities

Wireless networks are not invulnerable. Should they care to, hackers can bypass wireless communications safety protocols, like firewall protections, and gain access to private information.  Most secure protocols are currently proprietary, yet an attempt is being made to standardize the safety and efficacy of wireless transmissions.

Wireless security systems are still in the minority; however, trends in the security industry coincide with global technology at large - that is to say electrical wires are gradually becoming obsolete.  One thing to keep in mind is that not all central stations who handle the monitoring of wireless systems are actually “wireless at both ends;” that is to say that because cellular service providers are so competitive, some of them actually deliver their signals using the POTS (“Plain Old Telephone Service,” aka landline) network, which because of translation requirements, diminishes the integrity of the signal.  In these cases, the customer is vulnerable to the same threats as those who use landlines to transmit alarm signals, namely line cuts, natural disasters and power outages.  Many central stations are offering “redundant” monitoring to remedy these issues, which in effect sends multiple signals to multiple receivers.

Providers

Alarm.com is a security company that operates entirely via wireless technology; they do not require their customers to have either a phone line nor a Broadband connection.  Instead, their services work explicitly through the GSM network (cell phone towers), which they assure to be secure and encrypted.

Wireless security systems are being designed to integrate with other home devices, like entertainment centers. In 2009 Alpha Networks debuted a home security and entertainment solution, which consists of home entertainment, monitoring and storage elements “for those who want a smarter and more convenient way of realizing a digital lifestyle.” Their software, called “Borg” provides an easy way for customers to integrate, automate and control all their home appliances, including their security systems, stereo, TV and internet. 

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