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D.I.Y. Home Security

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the try-this-at-home dept.

Hardware Hacking 377

theodp writes "The NYTimes reports that pre-wired home security installations by alarm companies are on the way out. Thanks to wireless window and door sensors and motion detectors, installing and maintaining one's own security system is becoming a do-it-yourself project, with kits available from companies like InGrid and LaserShield. Time to start cranking out some new iPhone and Android apps, kids?"

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Wireless = less secure (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25607901)

Wireless = a burglar could disable them remotely?

Either by jamming or by spoofing.

Or trigger them often enough remotely so that they eventually get disabled ;).

Re:Wireless = less secure (4, Informative)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#25607939)

Having used to work installing alarms systems, jamming wouldn't work. A lost communication with a device triggers a fault same as if you were to cut a wire. Spoofing also wouldn't work because if more than one identical ID/Serial#s also create a fault.
But yes I suppose you could keep randomly jamming them and setting off alarms until they finally give up and disable it.

Re:Wireless = less secure (4, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608059)

Sounds like a great way to figure out if the alarm is turned on or not to me... Jam the wireless signal, then wait and see if cops show up. If not, break the window and waltz on in.

Re:Wireless = less secure (5, Funny)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608173)

Having used to work installing alarms systems, jamming wouldn't work. A lost communication with a device triggers a fault same as if you were to cut a wire.

1. Find a target house,
2. Use jamming enough times that the owner turns off the alarm.
3. Break in.
4. ???
5. Profit!

Re:Wireless = less secure (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25608431)

We did something similar as a prank in high school. A lab had an microphone sensor, so we hid a watch in the casing. The school turned on the alarm at night about 8:30. The watch beeped and the cops showed at 9:00... then 10:00 then 11:00 then did not bother at 12:00. That's when we popped the window open and entered to play our prank in the "high security" lab.

Re:Wireless = less secure (3, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608211)

Could you search for sources of wireless transmissions to find out which doors / windows are armed and which ones aren't?

Re:Wireless = less secure (4, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608713)

This would take forever. The devices to save battery life only transmit a short packet every half hour or so. It varies to prevent repeated collisions with other sensors. 1 missed packet isn't reported as a fault. A series (varies by brand but usualy 3) of missed reports becomes a fault. This fault generation can take hours, plenty of time to raid and be gone again. Use wired for the perimiter.

Re:Wireless = less secure (1)

shird (566377) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608339)

> Spoofing also wouldn't work because if more than one identical ID/Serial#s also create a fault.

So just don't use it at the same time, wtf? Why would you want to use an id while the house owner is there anyway? the whole point is to do a replay / spoof attack while the owner (and therefore serial# / id etc) *isn't* there. Lost a bit of credibility there.

A more believable counter-measure is a challenge-response which can't be spoofed.

Re:Wireless = less secure (3, Insightful)

dragonturtle69 (1002892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608349)

Creating what seemed to be false alarms was once a common method for defeating car alarms. Eventually, the owner would think that the unit was too sensitive and disarm it.

Re:Wireless = less secure (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608413)

A lost communication with a device triggers a fault same as if you were to cut a wire. Spoofing also wouldn't work because if more than one identical ID/Serial#s also create a fault.

Then the solution appears simple:
Jam and spoof
Jam the sensor. Hit it with a hammer. Spoof the signal.
Reliable, secure communication over an untrusted channel is rarely implemented properly and quite often it relies on synchronization between the two parties.

The fundamental problem here is:
Are you willing to face a fine becuase your neighbor's microwave/PC/whatever caused your alarm to trigger?
What about dead batteries? Failed sensors?

Re:Wireless = less secure (4, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608685)

If you really installed them, you would know for a fact to conserve battery life, they have a long check-in interval for monitored sensors. By the time I opened the door and brought in my tool caddy, etc, I would have had plenty of time to find valuables, disconnect the main box, and leave. Do your homework. A missed signal will take a while to become a trouble report. My alarm's wireless has long check-in's and 3 have to be missed to be a trouble report. For this reason the perimiter is WIRED, not wireless. The frequency of operation is well known by brand, so wireless portion is only used on interiour sensors such as the medicine cabinet (foster kids) and shop cabinets.

The level of security varies by the installed system vunerabilities. Wireless is a weak spot that won't detect short term interferance as an attack. Primary entry points should be wired.

Re:Wireless = less secure (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25608143)

99.9% of people that break into homes are stupid. .1% of them are smart enough to figure out commercial security systems. 0% will bother with a custom system.
In this case, security through obscurity is real security.

Re:Wireless = less secure (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608197)

Unless of course, you have something in the house that actually is worth protecting.

The calculus is:

Potential Loot * Risk of capture > Cost of burglary

So if the cost of breaking in (hiring the skill, buying tools etc) is greater than the risk adjusted potential gain, then they'll spend the time, money or effort needed to break in. So yea, security through obscurity works if you hide the fact that you have something valuable at home. If they do, however, find out, then you're pretty much screwed.

This is the *reason* that if you have anything worth stealing, you should *assume* that somebody who is willing to steal it knows about it.

Re:Wireless = less secure (3, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608449)

While he was at work, a neighbor's house was broken into this spring. The burglars entered through his attached garage, and used the victim's own power tools to then open his safe right in his bedroom.

I'd say those burglars are keeping a lid on their costs.

( If they entered my house, with any luck they'd fix my circular saw for me before discovering I have no safe. )

Re:Wireless = less secure (4, Interesting)

marcop (205587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608307)

There are antijamming measures in good wireless systems. Typically the negatives of a wireless system are cost and limited expandability. I got my system here: []

And don't have it hooked up to a monitoring service. Instead it calls up to 3 numbers to alert them of a problem. Overall it cost me about $500 for a medium sized home, but I don't have a monthly bill either. I like my setup a lot. However, some other random things to consider:
- I found out that if you have more than 3 false alarms in a month then the police (NY) will charge you per incident afterward.
- Without a monitoring service there is no insurance discount.
- It's generally not the most foolproof.
- The unit in the link can communicate with X10 devices so you can do some fancy stuff like flashing the house lights when the alarm goes off. I also have the X10 lights controlled to an inexpensive X10 mini-timer that turns the lights on and off during the day to simulate someone being home.
- The unit above is a PITA to setup and can be a little quirky.

I use the system for a couple reasons... at home it gives me a peace of mind that I didn't leave a door open accidentally (like the garage), and I will be alerted of an intruder. While traveling the system will alert me of a possible intruder. I then have a friend go to my house a little while later to re-secure the home. I don't want them confronting an intruder, simply re-locking the door or replacing a broken window. A friend once gave me some good advice...
an intruder will get into your house if they really want to. Simply have your most important stuff with you or better secured (i.e., documents in a bank) and then get replacement cost insurance for the rest.

Re:Wireless = less secure (5, Informative)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608323)

Wireless = a burglar could disable them remotely?
Either by jamming or by spoofing.
Or trigger them often enough remotely so that they eventually get disabled ;).
I used to design radio-based alarm systems in the 1980s. These were the first things we'd make sure couldn't easily happen. In those days we only had one narrow-band channel to work with (allowed by law) so anti-jamming was basically a case of a loss of signal from the sensors and/or a blocking signal present at the receiver would trigger an alarm, which meant that (3) was a definite possibility. The 'loss of signal' detection implies that the sensors transmit continuously - they don't, but they do send a brief 'check-in' at periodic intervals. The check-in period was a pseudo-random sequence to prevent different sensors checking-in on top of each other (since they couldn't 'listen out') and as a result the receiver could very quickly determine whether a sensor had missed its checkin. Later spread-spectrum techniques got around most kinds of dumb jamming attempts - it would still be possible to spoof the system in theory but only using relatively sophisticated bogus transmissions. And spoofing is reasonably easy to prevent in the decode software. I assume most modern systems today will use much better techniques than we had at our disposal twenty years ago.

I'd say this though, as a former alarm engineer - if you really have something to protect, the best security is physical, not an alarm. If you can't secure your own building go to someone who can, e.g. safe deposit boxes. Alarms are pants, whether they use wireless or not.

Re:Wireless = less secure (4, Funny)

karnal (22275) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608587)

OMG!!! *Rushes to patent office to patent Wireless Pants*

Re:Wireless = less secure (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25608619)

See, anyone truly interested in security will have binoculars and a rifle as well. You get constant false positives, you look for the persistently present vehicle with an unknown person inside. You then politely dial the local police and report a stranger tampering with your security system.

If that fails, you disable the security system after ensuring the rifle is prepped. Post signs saying 'trespassers will be shot'. Issue a single verbal warning. Do not shoot to wound. Wounded people sue. Dead people rot.

Re:Wireless = less secure (1)

DiegoBravo (324012) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608629)

Ok, maybe that is about geek alarms. But for most people, the best is play up to the burglar fears, for example put a BIG sticker that says:


Re:Wireless = less secure (1)

hansson (886936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608739)

Jamming works for sure, and the RF protocols are not very sophisticated so a dedicated geek could surely have some fun decoding and synthesizing the signals and cause some serious confusion.

In the "real world" though, no burglar goes through that effort. Smash the window, find the siren and kill it with a hammer in 15 seconds and get what you want before the alarm company has their truck sent out 20 minutes later.
You don't need a degree to figure that out.

So the only actual downside with a wireless system is the hassle of changing batteries in the sensors every couple of years. Other than that they are really no less secure than a wired system. (We're talking residential here - a jeweler store attracts a different clientele)

But here's the insider secret that the alarm industry don't want you to know:
Alarm systems do not "protect" anything. They give the owner artificial peace of mind. The biggest value of buying a system is the deterring effect of the sign in the front yard.

Stilll alive? (2, Funny)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25607909)

"Thanks to wireless window and door sensors and motion detectors, installing and maintaining one's own security system is becoming a do-it-yourself project, with kits available from companies like InGrid and LaserShield. "

Does any of them come with a portal turret?

Re:Stilll alive? (5, Funny)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608575)

Tired of thieves stealing his tools, my grandpa electrified the padlock with one of those electric fence units used with cattle and horses. Difference, 3' from the unit instead of 300' of fencing wire.

This isn't news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25607913)

This was exactly what my grandpa was doing for his house in 1989. He went around the house and added motion sensors and magnetic reed switches on the windows. There was even an optional wireless component here and there for the system which was not X10-based (though he did have a few lights controlled with that).

The problem was that it was of limited use compared to the commercially-monitored ones because, but of course, it was not monitored.

Now a positive externality of an alarm going off is that a burglar is going to assume that the cops will be there in ten minutes, but you never know...especially if he learns as an hour later, the alarm is still going off...
My three cents.

Re:This isn't news... (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608179)

You have just identified a new service for or some new start-up - monitoring home installed alarms systems. Can't be that hard as the protocols are not exactly rocket science. Build a cheap-ish modem for Internet connection and you're off to success. Damn, forgot

1 - identify simple interface protocol
2 - build modem to connect user's alarm system to
3 - set up monitoring data center(s)
4 - ....
5 - profit

I'm just wondering what I'm going to do with that 8 foot long flexible shaft 3/4 inch auger drill bit I bought! damn!

Fail. (2, Funny)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25607925)

Wireless? Good thing most criminals are stupid.
Watch the neighborhood kids set this off with a modded cordless phone...

Cellphones (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25607941)

If you could figure out a way to hook an old cellphone into your homebrew security system, you could have it auto-dial 911, since any cellphone, even one without a service plan, has to be able to make that call.

Add in a pre-recorded message and you have replicated most of what the home security companies do with their monitoring.

Re:Cellphones (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608321)

Asterisk box w/ bluetooth, FTW!

Re:Cellphones (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608375)

Can't be too tricky, given that Thinkgeek sells a contraption that sends you messages over Twitter if your plant is over/under-watered.

Re:Cellphones (3, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608473)

AFAIK, in most localities an automated system is not permitted to call 911 directly. You're better off having a cheap prepaid cell phone call your cell phone so you can then call the police / fire.

But you'd better have a lot of confidence in your alarm system. Most municipalities will charge you for the first few false alarms, and will then either force you to remove the system or charge you with a public nuisance misdemeanor.

Re:Cellphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25608493)

yes, except that will get you in hot water since UL guidelines specifically prohibit security systems of any sort to Auto-Dial 911. False alarms suck.

Re:Cellphones (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608509)

For $1200AU install and $20/mo, I got a monitored (that is it phones home, and has mobile backup) monitored security setup.

Its not wireless, its very tamper proof, and my insurance company discount almost pays for the monitoring fee for the year.

This is one of those things you don't fuck around with yourself :)

Honeypot@home (2, Interesting)

jedwidz (1399015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25607995)

What I wanna do is set up a honey pot dresser drawer that's wired to a silent alarm, maybe one that sends me an SMS and activates surveillance cameras.

The contents of the honey pot drawer would of course include something of value with a homing beacon concealed in it.

(But maybe I won't bother now everyone knows how secure my house is.)

Lasershield Hack (5, Interesting)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25607997)

While most home burglars are not necessarily the most sophisticated, I have read a few reports of the ease of use of hacking the LaserShield. This basically involves breaking the communication between the base unit and sensors, such as by just having a two way radio turned to the same frequency and sending some noise over it to break reception. The base unit does not seem to regularly poll the remote sensors from what I can tell, and so is unaware of a break in communication. Engadget has a video demonstrating the hack here [] .

While little security is better than none, I still think its important to understand the risks of poorly designed wireless security system devices versus well designed ones or even more conventional wired security system devices.

Re:Lasershield Hack (2, Insightful)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608077)

What are the odds the average burglar will (a) realize you have a hackable home security system, and (b) actually hack it. The point isn't to make your home 100% impregnable, just make it harder/less likely to get hit. If you can stop 19/20 robberies, that's pretty good.

Re:Lasershield Hack (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608309)

I agree that your point is valid, at present; but I don't think that it will remain so if this stuff gets popular. Consider the various credit card skimming machines: those require nontrivial technical skill to design and manufacture; but that doesn't stop fairly low-end crooks from using them because crooks buy stuff from suppliers on the internet just like geeks do.

If LaserShield, or any other system with similar gaping flaws, becomes popular, you'll be able to buy little handheld LaserShield detector/jammer units on DealExtreme for peanuts, just like you can with cell jammers today.

It is actually a rather hard problem. In order to be dead easy peel 'n stick, all entrants into the "DIY home security for the nontechnically inclined" market will be wireless. If the wireless systems fail silent, then jamming will be dangerous. If wireless systems Alarm on fail, then setting off an entire neighborhood with a protoboard design you got off hackaday will be every teenage malcontent with a soldering iron's secondary hobby.

Re:Lasershield Hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25608503)

If the wireless systems fail silent, then jamming will be dangerous. If wireless systems Alarm on fail, then setting off an entire neighborhood with a protoboard design you got off hackaday will be every teenage malcontent with a soldering iron's secondary hobby.

It's neither. At least one of them sends a "I'm jammed" signal when its jammed. It won't stop a burglar (because there's no police dispatch for a jammed system) but if the place gets robbed at least you'll know how they did it. (more sophisticated responses could actually catch the crooks the next time around, but would require a lot more work than the police are actually willing to go through to catch mere burglars. After all, there could be internet gamblers and music pirates to catch.)

Re:Lasershield Hack (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608671)

It won't stop 19/20 robberies, it will just cause the thieves to hit the house next door 19/20 times. Which is a good or a bad thing, depending on whether you're friends with the neighbor.

Re:Lasershield Hack (2, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608239)

If that's true, then LS is run by a bunch of idiots. The default state for any alarm system should be ALARM. If the telephone line is cut, the CO should get an ALARM signal. If the batteries in the base station die, the CO should get an ALARM signal. If there is interference between the sensors and the base station, the BS should send ALARM to the CO.

Re:Lasershield Hack (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608487)

While little security is better than none

If the probability of false alarm is high enough. (Fines for me.) And the probability burglary and detection is low enough, then having a system could actually be worse than not having one.

Cost or benefit of system = -1 * p_false_alarm * cost_false alarm + p_burglary * p_detection * money_saved - cost_of_system

Not work it (2, Interesting)

burningcpu (1234256) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608019)

For $10 more a month, an alarm company with hundreds of dispatchers can respond to your alarms for you. Tough for you to respond to the hold up alarm going off at your house, when you're the one that tripped it.

Re:Not work it (4, Insightful)

Wog (58146) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608245)

Hold up alarm? For less than $100 every four years, you can get a carry permit, which will not only keep you from being held up at home, but equip you to protect yourself away from home!

Also, from my personal experience and the word of many cops, the authorities will dispatch a unit faster to a homeowner reporting a break-in than an alarm company reporting that an alarm has been tripped.

So though I'd never rush home to try and stop anything myself (we pay young guys who really want to catch burglars for us), being notified and calling the cops myself probably has a better chance of getting an officer there within 45 minutes.

Home wireless security systems (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608021)

Some time back on my campus, a start-up company offered home security systems based on the broadband and mobile phone networks. You had a series of modules (motion detectors, cameras, mobile/internet communications), that you plugged together. You just set up the IP addresses and an optional web page, and the system took care of the rest (timestamping, E-mail/mobile phone alerts)

The next thing, the local insurance company (Endsleigh) announces that they are closing many of their offices. I always wondered whether these were related. Did people spend more money on installing security systems than insurance?

Re:Home wireless security systems (2, Informative)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608569)

An alarm system from a licensed installer will reduce the cost of your insurance premiums (at least it does here), not worth doing it yourself since your insurance savings will eventually pay for it anyway.

Re:Home wireless security systems (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608621)

Endsleigh are known as a rather tricky insurance company by students. They wouldn't insure any single item unless it was less than 10% of the total amount of money that you wanted to insure. They would also try to wriggle out of claims - one guy I knew had his bicycle stolen even though it was padlocked to the railings of the internal staircase. Endsleigh argued that it was "outside of the exterior of the property, and thus not covered." Only after getting a solicitors letter to explain the legal definition of the "exterior of the property" was the claim settled.

Webcam + sw (2, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608033)

If you're not looking for 3rd party monitoring, there are quite a few windows apps that monitor webcams. Currently, I use SupervisionCam. Monitor several cams at once, and perform multiple actions on motion detection. Email, FTP to elsewhere, run an external app, play a sound (BarkBark!). Or, have it capture 1 frame every couple of seconds, and go into high gear on motion detection.

Just be sure you have your motion sensor set right. Otherwise, you might quickly fill up your email or webserver space.

2 or 3 cams pointed at various entrances is cheap and easy.

Re:Webcam + sw (1)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608107)

If your alarm system is web-enabled, how will you monitor it if the power goes out, or your internet is down. Nevermind the fact that burglars often cut phone lines if they are really trying to get into a joint, and suspect that a monitored alarm may be installed.

Re:Webcam + sw (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608135)

Never said it was perfect. I live in a low threat area. This is good enough. my location, they can't cut the cable line without being monitored. Yes, there is a cam pointed out the window, encompassing the whole cable line from pole to house. Several frames will be captured and FTP'd before the line is cut. Especially as the outside security light comes on (at night) if they near that part of the house.

Re:Webcam + sw (1)

munwin99 (667576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608187)

Small UPS / Battery Backup for power and an old mobile phone for backup net connection (modem style to a second ISP). Done. Get a minimal net connection for the phone as (hopefully) you won't use it all that often. Make sure it _is_ reliable though - cause when you _need_ it, you really need it.

Re:Webcam + sw (2, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608171)

In the spirit of FOSS, [] is a Linux based network camera system with built in motion detection. Works very well, and saves images a jpeg, not a proprietary lossy compressed stream.

I for one... (4, Insightful)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608045)

While I don't do the security camera thing, I do have my laptop send periodic pictures (including 5 seconds of video and audio at login) to my server using the built-in webcam and some OSS products. It only does this when it isn't at home, and it encrypts the files, so it's a great way to ensure that my computer is safe without becoming a privacy threat to myself.

I did this because I had some equipment stolen a while ago. I don't mind if people break into my house, as long as they leave everything how they found it. So instead of securing my house, I secured my property by having everything of value phone home when it's out and about. It's an alternate (cheaper) approach people might want to think about.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25608285)

Wow, great idea. I wish my HDV camera, home theater system and expensive guitars had a login screen or a net connection. My laptop is cheap and very easy to replace. The real expensive stuff can't even run software.

Re:I for one... (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608369)

Does this assume that the thief has your login password, or does your machine login automatically? I assume the latter, since you don't mind if people break into your house. :-)

(Although, it sounds like you'd prefer to be broken into by some Boy Scouts, considering your rather curious expectation of benevolence on their part ;-))

Re:I for one... (1)

shird (566377) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608381)

Yeah ok, do that to a diamond ring. Fat lot of good phoning home does when your laptop is stolen and hocked. Sure you *might* get a photo of the thief, but how does that get your laptop back? Do you plan on tracking him down somehow, then asking who he sold it to, then tracking them down, then convincing them its your latptop etc etc etc ? no. You will need to claim on insurance either way. And you'd have cheaper premiums if you secured your house.

Re:I for one... (1)

shird (566377) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608409)

How do the thieves know the stuff phones home? They don't, they will steal it anyway. And you won't get it back no matter ho many photos you take. You dumbass. Of course having your stuff stolen is a cheaper alternative to putting locks on your doors, but normal people don't want their stuff stolen.

Re:I for one... (1)

fan of lem (1092395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608499)

I don't mind if people break into my house

Then I'll be sure to pack some beer with my crowbar!

Problems... (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608051)

The problem is, if the alarm system fails, who do you blame? Its easy to say to the police/insurance agency "I had my alarm installed from *insert major alarm vendor here*, I set it but it failed or they disabled it" and they would believe you and care more about your case. If you said oh I bought my alarm from *insert minor DIY alarm vendor*, set it up myself and can control it from my iPhone, they will think its cool, but would blame the error on you and your case drops from near last priority to dead last.

Re:Problems... (1)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608111)

I don't think the police would care one way or the other. And I don't think you insurance would care either, other than a likely (small) discount for having a third-party monitoring system.

Re:Problems... (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608615)

The "small" discount almost covers the cost of my security company monitoring :)

Security Camera Software Help (1)

clinko (232501) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608115)

I've been looking for some good cheap or open source security camera software for a while now.

It seems this would be a common need:
1. Stream from a simple cheap Webcam & PC setup (Assumed to be stolen in the actual break-in)
2. Record the stream remotely, this would be kept on my home PC w/a big cheap hd. Days of data would be deleted as needed.

One problem is that most software that streams goes out of its way to make it impossible to save the data.

You would think that this would be easier to find.

Security Camera Streaming Help (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608185)

"You would think that this would be easier to find."

A stream of data is a stream of data especially in a Unix OS. The rest is simple encoding/decoding and timing.

Re:Security Camera Software Help (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608189)

You don't need an actual stream. A frame (jpg) every second or three, then upon motion detection, every 0.25 second. We don't need movie quality video for this.

Re:Security Camera Software Help (4, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608257)

Try [] which hits everything you mentioned. (If the webcam is Linux supported)

Re:Security Camera Software Help (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608545)

Mod parent up!

This software looks great. I've always considered the idea but didn't know where to start.

Looks pretty hackable, too.... I might have to go out and buy some hardware!

I'll stick with what I have.. (4, Funny)

fucket (1256188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608131)

The shoelace and shotgun seems to be working okay so far.

I'll stick with what I have..A bible. (2, Informative)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608243)

I know you're joking but in case anyone takes you seriously. That's actually illegal.

Re:I'll stick with what I have..A bible. (5, Funny)

fucket (1256188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608271)

In that case, I hope they knock when they come to arrest me.

Re:I'll stick with what I have..A bible. (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608521)

I'll stick with what I have..A bible

I suppose they come rather thick... if thrown hard enough it could do a bit of damage!
Thanks for the insight!

(I'm just kidding... but found it mildly humorous.)

Re:I'll stick with what I have..A bible. (1)

Psiven (302490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608525)

I wasn't sure what they were talking about so looked it up. Apparently the combination makes it a "machine gun".

Dog + Gun works good too... (5, Insightful)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608217)

My dog barks, I shoot. Pretty simple setup. No electricity, phone lines, cell signals, wireless, or anything else to not work. Plus, if I miss, my dog is none too friendly to strangers (Chow/Shepard mix). The minute someone even gets close to the house, he makes a VERY scary noise.

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (-1, Flamebait)

Xaria (630117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608281)

And if it's the neighbour's kid retrieving his ball, you've committed murder. Congratulations.

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (2, Informative)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608433)

And if it's the neighbour's kid retrieving his ball, you've committed murder. Congratulations.

Well yeah, if you shoot anyone who sets foot in your yard...

Don't take everything literally. Realistically, the grandparent probably won't shoot at anyone unless he can verify them as an intruder. His state probably has castle laws, too, making it perfectly legal, as long as he takes a bit of care. .

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (1)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608441)

What kid is retrieving his ball inside my house at night????

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608481)

I told them to stay off my damn lawn!

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608397)

Any chance you're related to this guy? []

Although I'm a believer in the right to bear arms, it sounds like you're about to make a big mistake. Please try to do a little more investigation before you kill someone.

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (1)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608549)

There is a big difference between what that guy did and me finding an intruder in my house. I don't see the connection. Not sure what makes you think I shoot at people on my lawn.

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (0, Troll)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608591)

"My dog barks, I shoot."

That's what makes me think you aren't being that careful.

You did NOT say "My dog barks at someone inside my house whom I have identified as an intruder, I shoot."

We talking about potentially ending someone's life here. If you want people to think you go through a carefully thought out process before shooting someone then you should say so, instead of stating just the opposite.

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608573)

The problem there is that if you're not home, nobody shoots. What you need to do attach your shotgun to the dog's back, and set up a sound-activated relay on the trigger, so when the dog looks at something and barks, it automatically fires. Now your home is fully protected.

Disclaimer: Teach your dog to not bark excitedly when you come home from work.

Re:Dog + Gun works good too... (1)

narcberry (1328009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608655)

Or barking when people ring the doorbell. Not sure he wants to replace his sofa, wall, and refrigerator every time the witnesses come by.

Yeah, no more ADT... (1)

krovisser (1056294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608247)

Ugh, commercial alarm companies are scammers. I get a new house, and guess what? Every sensor from EVERY window and door is conveniently removed so I have to sign up for some shitty contract. I'm guessing the previous owners had theirs "disconnected" at some point which involved removing the sensors. That, and the fact that ADT fills my mail with ads and warnings that I'm about to get robbed and crap like that.

Re:Yeah, no more ADT... (2, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608403)

ADT sent me a great* scare ad a few years back. It read something like "SUMMER IS BURGLAR SEASON! DID YOU KNOW THAT 28% OF ALL BURGLARIES OCCUR BETWEEN MEMORIAL DAY AND LABOR DAY?"

Well, I know that on average about 28% of all days in a year occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That either means the burglary rate is essentially flat year-round, or that any rise in the rate at some other time of year is offset by a corresponding decline in the rate at another point in the year. But in no case does any of the math yield the insight that makes summer "burglar season."

* by great I mean so stupid that it stood head and shoulders above the rest of their stupid ads.

Re:Yeah, no more ADT... (1)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608553)

ADT, or any alarm company, doesn't remove the sensors when the system is disconnected. There's no value in doing so. They simple dial in and disable the dial-out for alarms, or flag the account on their end so the monitoring staff doesn't respond to any alarms.

Say what you will, but not all alarm companies are scammers. I own an alarm company and try to be completely honest and up front. Keep in mind, making a profit != automatic scam.

Re:Yeah, no more ADT... (4, Interesting)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608677)

No ADT doesn't come in and remove the equipment--that was likely the previous owners--but they're still a scam. You BUY the equipment along with the monitoring. But if you cancel, not only does the monitoring go away--the equipment that you bought NO LONGER WORKS! Unless you can either hack it or sign up with a different monitor, you're screwed. That's just wrong. You should be able to get the use of your equipment with or without their service. It's the alarm that scares the burglar away--they don't know that it's not being monitored. In fact you're probably fine if you just have one of those signs out front that says you have ADT or whatever system.

The other rip-off we discovered here is you have to register your alarm with the police or law enforcement agency in your area. If you don't then they might not respond if the monitoring company calls.

this seems stupid to me (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608265)

1. what happens now is a healthy underground trade in wireless frequency blockers (or cloners, however the system works: absence of signal indicating intrusion versus presence of signal indicating intrusion). you can't do that with a wired system. i hardly think some cheap doodads are doing anything complicated with their signal that would defeat a blocker/ cloner

2. additionally, now don't you have to change tons of little batteries all over the house? people think its a pain to remember changing the fire alarm batteries at daylight savings time changeovers. now they have to run around every 12 months changing specialty batteries on dozens of wireless intrusion gadgets too?

of course there are plenty of ways to defeat wired systems. none of which also don't apply to wireless systems. you would need battery backups, cell backups, etc., on both. but still, the wired seems inherently more, ehem, secure, if you are going to all of the trouble of not just buying a dog

Re:this seems stupid to me (2, Informative)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608563)

1) Security systems often detect jamming. This would cause a fault, actually a 'jamming' fault on Ademco systems.
2) That's exactly why I hate wireless alarms. Ugh. If a customer wants wireless (cheaper on labor), fine, but not my recommendation.

Batteries? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608299)

So instead of having a wired sensor on every external door/window, I now have a wireless setup? How many batteries and how do I maintain them? I'll assume the sensors notify me that the downstairs bathroom window's sensor needs to be replaced.

Retrofitting a house, go with the wireless solution so you don't have to tear up your walls (unless you've got an attach to run cabling)

New House? hardwired, as there would be less maintenance.

Re:Batteries? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608475)

So instead of having a wired sensor on every external door/window, I now have a wireless setup? How many batteries and how do I maintain them?

My system has batteries half the size of an AA in each door sensor and bigger ones in other devices (fire alarms and audio sensors) and notifies me if they're running low.

2008 election (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25608331)

first election won by playing the race card. get ready to take some nigger dick up your ass, or be jailed for being a racist.

Well that's good to see! (2, Informative)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608335)

My Mom's house had ADT. They promised to get us a discount on the insurance of the house because it was there, and always watching for fire. We were told that the paperwork for that much-needed discount had been sent, and we assumed that the unit would be alert for fire and carbon monoxide as well.

Three years later, with me in Chicago, we learned that wasn't quite true.

1. In order to GET the insurance discount, you, and not ADT have to walk the paperwork over there and get signatures for it to matter. They never did, despite what we were told.

2. We later learned that, despite three years of being on and chirping for every door-opening, it wouldn't have reported a fire or carbon monoxide problems, as those two sensors cost extra.

Yeah, not friendly to ADT. I could make something better. In my new home, that's what I'm doing.

As usual, the field is already tilted (3, Interesting)

brundlefly (189430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608417)

I'd love to wire my house security system myself. But I have a financial disincentive not to: my homeowners insurance (State Farm) gives me a significant discount for using my local (Bay Alarm) monitoring provider. The insurance discount almost covers the cost of 24/7 monitoring.

Over time I *would* eventually recoup the costs of DIY. But it would take years to break even. And I have no idea how long it would take for the insurance amortizers to figure out the costs of vigilant DIY alarmers vs. happy outsourcers. I can't even hazard a guess which direction those splits would trend towards.

Bottom line: tech is cool; business is challenged; limited mainstream appeal.

Use the hardline (apologies to the Matrix) (1)

surfingmarmot (858550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608435)

When it comes to security, the more physical the better. Wireless might seem a attractive on cost and convenience but reliability and vulnerability increase substantially. Again on that theme, the more complex a system, the more that can go wrong. It is all a matter of personal acceptance of a level of risk, but I'll stick with hardwired systems on a UPS and two good-sized dogs which gets me and my family to a comfortable sleeping level. that and Mister 12-gauge full of #00 buckshot and slugs. Your mileage may vary.

Why bother (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608529)

A gaggle of geese are more reliable. Or a couple of rotweilers. Hell, I'd trust a pack of dachshunds before I'd trust anything wireless, remote, electrical, requiring batteries or software driven. Even more so if it is a MS product.

The only thing I need. (2, Funny)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608533)


With Lasers.

'Nuff Said.

Re:The only thing I need. (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608691)

I agree an mote with Laser armed sharks are the way to go. Tim S PS: The Troll under the drawbridge costs extra.

Security of the security (1)

apankrat (314147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608535)

Given a fiasco after a fiasco trying to secure regular WiFi connections, what are the chances that wireless window sensors are anywhere close to being secure ? It's interesting because unlike wired sensors, connections of these ones can be accessed from the outside.

As a side note - I looked at using wireless cards to control the access to the front door and ultimately decided against it. The only cards that cannot be cloned with trivial snooping are those that can do proper challenge-response or private/public key authentication. There are NO such cards available at home security market (lots of snake oil stuff though, LOTS). One has to look at the financial services segments (traditional wireless smartcards), but the hardware hardware (even of the eval kits) is prohibitive.

All in all, your DIY security solution will most likely to end up being of the 'security through obscurity' variety. Caveat emptor.

A few thoughts on RF alarm systems... (4, Informative)

Helix150 (177049) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608555)

Much of this discussion has been about the jammability of RF-based alarm systems.

I've done it (testing my own system). It's NOT hard.

All the wireless sensors have a lithium battery that lasts for a few years. The sensors do NOT transmit continually- that would run down the battery in a matter of hours not years.

Each time they transmit anything, it's in the form of a data packet including headers, the transmitter's unique ID, battery status, what it wants to report (open/closed/etc) and a few checksum bits. Furthermore all the wireless sensors (generally) use the same channel in the 433MHz range. To avoid stepping on each other, each packet is transmitted a few times separated by a pseudorandom delay. The sensors also transmit a 'tamper' signal if the sensor casing is opened or ripped off the wall, and a periodic 'superivision' message once every hour or so to let the system know they're still alive.

Whenever you open or close a door connected to a wireless sensor, it transmits a burst updating its status. If it transmits an 'open' signal when the alarm is armed, the alarm goes off. If the alarm doesn't hear a supervision packet from a sensor for more than an hour or two, it signals a trouble condition.

Most importantly- the transmission is ONE WAY- the sensors don't have receivers. The sensor doesn't wait for an acknowledgment from the alarm that its packet was received-- it sends its packet a few times and then considers it sent.

Since many devices (including non-alarm stuff like wireless thermometers and other brands of alarm gear) use the 433MHz range the alarm uses, wireless alarms are designed to tolerate SOME interference on the channels the alarm uses.

By SOME i mean less than 60 seconds of continual interference (as per UL standards for wireless alarm systems).
So any jamming you want to do only has to 1. cover the data packet and 2. last for less than 60 seconds at a time. As you can imagine this isn't too hard if you can switch your jammer on/off easily and have a good idea of where the sensors are.

So to break into a building equipped with a wireless alarm:
1. figure out type of alarm and buy portable jammer for alarm's frequency (cheap)
2. guess where the sensors are
3. key the jammer when you are about to trip a sensor. When you do, quickly tear it off the wall / smash it.
4. steal stuff
5. be out in less than an hour so the alarm doesn't miss any supervision packets. And if it does miss one chances are it'll create a 'trouble' alarm not a 'burglar' alarm; no cops will be called.

Any security system can be beaten- there is no such thing as perfect security. Wireless sensors can be jammed. Magnetic contacts can often be fooled with bigger magnets. Motion sensors can be beaten by holding up bed sheets (as per Mythbusters test).

However if a burglar is crafty enough to jam an RF alarm or fake out magnetic contacts, chances are they are pretty smart and there isn't much you can do to keep them out. Most break ins are dumb criminals doing smash n grab jobs, the alarm is there to blast a 120dB siren in their face and hopefully freak them out enough that they run away.

Wow, most comments useless... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25608721)

I was hoping for, at least, some open source motion capture for webcam stuff to be listed here.

My mistake. Everyone seems to be so hung up on the theory, hardware kits and etc, that they don't actually consider what might be useful.

Myself - my DIY home webcam with motion capture software (and I don't remember where I got it or what it's called since I just scavenged what was useful for it's source) saved me at least 3k when my landlady decided to take a shopping trip inside my apartment. I got great pictures shot offsite that I was able to present to a judge. THAT's useful.

Can anyone actually list useful opensource software motion cap stuff here - since it's what I'd use (again) if I would have to reconstruct my internal motion sensitive capture and offsite squirt software? :P

If Brad can do it, you can too! (Sort of.) (1)

VxJasonxV (792809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608727)

A quick in-page skim and search does not appear to show anyone else having already said this:

It'd be interesting to see if Brad (yes, of LiveJournal fame) does something like this, given (1) what he's already done and (2) what he's mentioned he'd like to do.

He's already rolled his own automatic/wireless garage door opener;
Short overview with some detail in part 1: []
More details in part 2: []

Also in Part 1 you'll see that it was suggested that he put his multitude of in-home access points to use, and use it to let his Android determine where he is in his house, and wire up some other basic utilities to use this data.

If he gives every light switch an IP address, then the room can light up as soon as he goes to enter it.

That would be nothing short of amazing. He would never have to raise his arm to flick the switch ever again!

And when he wants to be social, he can just broadcast his EXACT position. It'll be like Britekite on Steroids! :P

Easy, Cheap and Low-Tech (2, Funny)

bschorr (1316501) | more than 5 years ago | (#25608729)

Go to Sears and buy a couple of pairs of mens work boots in the biggest size you can find. Put them on the front porch. Tack a note on the front door that reads: "Bubba - Junior and I went to get more ammunition. You and Lefty stay away from them dogs; they ain't been fed yet and you remember what happened last time."
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