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Avoiding Security Breaches Post-Termination

August 26, 2014
post termination office security
Large businesses tend to have lawyer-refined protocols in place for terminating an employee because firing staff comes with a great deal of security risk. Organizations have to protect themselves. Small businesses face that same level of risk and often have even more to lose. Although small businesses may not have a human resources department and a large army of lawyers, they can still protect themselves by identifying the concerns and putting safeguards in place to protect against them.

Be Prepared for a Range of Emotions

Big companies often have so many employees that each individual worker is little more than a number to a lawyer or HR department. This does have its advantages, such as during termination. All employees are treated the same. In a small business, people are more prone to treat employees differently. Most people will leave a business in a professional manner. Who is to say why that one percent will choose anger, bitterness and possibly revenge? Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Building Security is a Priority

The vast majority of security breaches performed by disgruntled employees are physical in nature and occured at the site where the individual worked. If the building is accessed through traditional locks, then all keys should be returned and/or all locks should be replaced the day of termination–this must be viewed as a cost of doing business. Change all access codes for alarm systems as well. If the business uses a door entry system, or access control system, it’s necessary to disable that badge ID or take whatever similar measures are necessary to prevent unwanted entry.

Establish Awareness

The best building security can be undermined by a lack of awareness. Often, a business will want to respect a terminated employee’s right to privacy and dignity, but in doing so, will expose itself to a security threat. Although there is no need to explain the termination, there is a need to ensure that all employees and vendors understand that the individual has been terminated. It is also a good idea for the business to establish a protocol in the case that the fired employee comes to the building.

Securing the Cloud is Essential

Security breaches do not just occur within the company’s physical location. They can occur from an Internet café, a parking lot outside the building or the comfort of the individual’s home. The cloud is at particular risk because it is intended to be accessed by employees remotely. If a department is using an internet service like DropBox that a terminated employee still has access to, then the company can lose sensitive data.

Therefore, while it is important for the company to secure its servers and the cloud services that it controls, it is also important to inform people throughout the business to change passwords and the like. The value of awareness cannot be stressed enough. It is also of great value to establish protocols for terminations and to refine these protocols over time, as these will make the transition for the remaining employees much easier and seamless.

Keep Cell Phones out of Your Bed

August 25, 2014
cell phone safety
Smartphones have completely transformed our world. Their helpfulness knows no bounds when someone is lost or needs to get information in a hurry. However, they also offer dangers that people need to be aware of. One of the lesser-known dangers is the risk of bringing mobile phones to bed. Here is a guide to the many reasons that you should avoid bringing your cell phone to bed with you.

Raising the Risk of Cancer

One of the most worrisome of the hazards that cell phones pose is the research that links cell phone usage and an increased risk of developing cancer. Look for ways to lower the odds of getting cancer by leaving your cell phone on the nightstand and away from your body.

Fire Hazard

As scary as a heightened risk of cancer may be, it is not nearly as worrisome as the risk of fire caused by a cell phone that is not properly ventilated. The problem is that people who take their smartphones to bed with them often fall asleep with them. When a cell phone is trapped underneath a pillow for example, it does not get the ventilation it needs. This situation causes the phone to rapidly overheat and create the potential for fire. Never take a chance of falling asleep with your smartphone in your bed.

Ruining Your Sleep Cycle

Poor sleep can cause many kinds of health problems as well as make you unfocused and irritable. Bringing a mobile phone to bed with you is an easy way to ruin your sleep cycle. This is especially true if the phone is set up to give email and text alerts. It would be best to remove the smartphone from the bedroom but if this is not feasible, you should turn off any notification sounds.

Make sure that your smartphone is put away on the charger at night. Keep it well away from your sleeping area. This will not only keep you safe, but it will also ensure that you always have a full charge on your phone to start the day.

Protect Your Family From Door-to-Door Scams

August 22, 2014
door to door scam
There are many wonderful things about the summer, but the wonderful weather can bring hazards as well. One of the troubling things that homeowners need to look out for during summer, even as it comes to a close is the outbreak of scammers who prey on homeowners. To avoid falling victim to one of these con artists, follow this guide to identifying and avoiding door-to-door scams.

Home Improvement Scam

One of the most common door-to-door scams is the home improvement scam. In this scam, con artists will knock on victims’ doors with news that they have spotted damage to their home. They most commonly say that they have noticed damage to the roof. The scammers will offer to repair the damage to the home at a discount in exchange for a cash payment up front. Never pay for a contractor’s services up front in order to avoid this scam.

The Alarm Upgrade Scam

If you have a sign in your yard that alerts would-be burglars that your home is protected by a security system, then you may well have to deal with this scam at some point. The con artists search for these home security signs, and then they knock on the door with the news that they can upgrade the home’s alarm system for a fee. Be skeptical! Your current alarm company would normally contact you through our preferred method – phone, email, letter, etc. – to discuss potential upgrades rather than showing up unannounced on your doorstep.

Charity Scammers

Easily the most common door-to-door scam is the fake charity scam. These scams are very popular because they prey on the natural tendency of most people to do good. These scammers are clever at creating charity names that sound like real charities, but they also sometimes simply pretend to be from real charities.

It is best to simply never give money to people who are soliciting door-to-door for charities to avoid getting scammed. If you feel you really want to help, ask the solicitors for literature that shows an 800 number or website that you can go to. This will greatly reduce the chances that you get scammed.

Prize Scam

Another way that scammers prey on victims is to take advantage of the delight we all have in winning something. These con artists will show up on victims’ doorsteps claiming that they have won a prize. They will have a bunch of paperwork for the victims to fill out, which they use to steal the personal information of their victims. They may also try to scam some money by claiming that the victims need to pay a fee to process the prize claim.

If you are always on the lookout for scams, you will be able to avoid them. Always greet solicitors at your doorstep with a dose of skepticism. Never give them money directly. You should always be sure to check them out with the local authorities and Better Business Bureau before you ever hand over a dime to be on the safe side.

Six Places a Thief Won’t Look for Your Valuables

August 12, 2014
Pacificalarms Hide Valuables
When you’re choosing a place to put your valuables, you could go with a safe that bolts into the frame of the home so it can’t be removed. Not many thieves are also safe-crackers and thieves are normally looking for a quick, easy score. They’ll spend six to eight minutes rummaging in the home, and if they find a safe, they’ll assume everything of value is kept in there.

If you don’t have the money to invest in a safe that can’t be removed, it’s not recommended that you get one at all. It will give thieves an obvious item to steal and they will take it and open it at their convenience. Instead, you’ll want to hide your valuables in a place that thieves won’t look or notice. Here are a couple indiscreet hiding places for your valuables.

Fake Items
Items that are fake but look real are a great idea for valuables like money and jewelry. The thief doesn’t have a lot of time to search your home, so he needs to get in and out quickly. He’s not going to check every item to be sure it’s real.

Soda Can
There are many real items that can be replaced with fake ones for keeping valuables safe. The soda can is perfect as long as the thief doesn’t get thirsty. They won’t be in your house long enough to search every item in the refrigerator.

Potted Plants
Valuables can be hidden in fake potted plants under the fake dirt and moss, or you can use old prescription bottles to hold rolled money buried in the real dirt. No thief is going to dig into the dirt of your plants in search of valuables.

Books
In some cases, slipping money inside the pages of a book might not be a good idea. If you have a hundred books, it’ll be a little more difficult for a robber to check every single book to be sure there’s nothing in it. If you have three books on a shelf and one of them is filled with money or hollowed out for valuables, that’s probably not the wisest choice

Disguised Home Items
If possible, building fake home appliances and features, such as a false thermostat or outlet, is a great way to hide valuables. These items will look like they are a natural part of the home and burglars will not even think of checking them for valuables.

Air Vents
There are a few different styles of air vents that can be added to the home. It requires a little bit of construction. You’ll have to make a space in the wall for the vent, but it’s less expensive than building a space for a wall safe.

Common Questions Security Companies Receive

August 5, 2014
security pacificalarms
Consumers purchasing a home security system for the first time often have many questions. So to help alleviate some of the ambiguity that we often face, here are five of the most common questions new clients ask home alarm companies in Santa Monica—and their answers!

How does an alarm system work?

Residential security systems generally comprise of three core aspects: the control panel, a series of sensors and monitoring service. The control panel is essentially the heart of the system. It is the central access point for the user, and it manages all sensor activity, alerts and alarms. The sensors are the devices placed throughout the home that sense unusual activity, and monitoring service ensures that all alarms are responded to appropriately regardless of the circumstances or time of day or night.

What is “crash-and-smash” and are modern alarm systems susceptible to it?

A “crash and smash” is when a burglar enters the home and smashes the control panel, thereby disabling it. Some systems are still susceptible to this technique, which is one reason why monitoring is so essential. When an alarm system is monitored, the call station expects the system to maintain contact in a specific manner. If that communication channel is broken, then the call center knows that the system is no longer operating properly.

What happens when I lose power or the Internet?

Most systems either use local battery power primarily or have local battery power available in case of an outage. If the system uses a telephone or a network connection to contact a call station or police department, then the system will generally have a built-in radio that allows it to connect via a cellular network just like a smartphone or other mobile devices do.

Are wireless security components actually better?

The proper security component for a particular job depends entirely on the environment, the circumstances and the objective. With that said, wireless security components generally are superior to wired version for a number of reasons. An important reason is that they are much easier to install, which not only softens the installation cost but also makes it much easier to alter, upgrade, and move the security system as the needs of the family change.

Do I require monitoring and is it expensive?

Few residential security systems demand monitoring, and most security companies will install their hardware without requiring you to commit to monitoring. Monitoring, however, is very important for the reasons stated above and for other reasons. Imagine a home invasion, a fire or a CO2 event where the family was incapacitated and unable to react to the alarm. What then? What if the neighbors do not hear the alarm and respond? With a monitored system you get the security that the call center will recognize the alarm, confirm the danger, and dispatch the appropriate local authorities.

Does a home security lower insurance rates?

Generally speaking, having a security system does lower insurance rates but you should contact your insurance company to learn the specific details. If you determine that there is no discount available, then you may want to consider shopping around for other insurance companies. In most cases, you should be able to lower your rates by several hundred dollars a year.