Increasing numbers of crime and terrorist incidents around the globe have made governments and organisations to take preventive actions to preclude occurrence of such incidents. It is not just governments or businesses that are choosing to wear a defensive posture, people at individual level as well, are concerned about personal as well as home security. More and more people are increasingly leveraging technology for personal security as well as security of their homes. Increasing concerns about business and home security has given manufacturers and vendors of these equipments a chance to sell security systems by leveraging the fear. Sales figures of security systems are skyrocketing as more and more people tend to believe that these systems can add a layer of security and safeguard their business, homes and possessions in case of an incident. Security equipments like Surveillance Cameras, Monitored and Unmonitored Intruder Alarm Systems, Motion Detectors, Automatic Fire Systems, etc. are commonly seen any medium to large facility and no more need any introduction. These devices have been largely adopted and installed across public places, home and business organizations.
Along with physical threats, threats to information security are also on the rise. Connectivity has opened door for information security incidents and internet has become playground for hackers. With trends like connected homes and security systems, which is set to bring internet connectivity to the security equipments, these systems have also become a target of cyber criminals. Time has never been harder for personal as well as home/business security. With so many incidents just waiting to shock us, it has become imperative to implement a layer of security that can stand against these incidents. Technology has always assisted security implementation and with this dependence on technology for security has grown exponentially in recent years.
Security systems: do they serve the purpose as they should?
Growing numbers of security incidents have installed a sense of insecurity in individuals and business. They are doing what is feasible and affordable to them to feel more secure. Installing security systems at home and offices is considered as a first layer of defence against security threats. It has helped grow business of security systems in recent years. Let it be a simple intruder alarm, or the multilayer physical and logical security implementation, people are doing what they can to make sure that potential threats do not reach them. At internet front as well, corporations are investing in network security. In year 2017, multiple incidents of ransomware WannaCry left word stunned. This information security incident affected computers and servers of several government organizations as well as business outfits. Operations halted for days and organization suffered losses and had to invest in preventive measures. This incident changed the common mind-set “it won’t happen to us”, that we use to ignore threats.
With widespread adoption of security systems, and bearing a crucial responsibility of safeguarding business, homes and expensive possessions, it has become important that these systems work as expected. Manufacturers and vendors of these systems claim that security systems are fool proof, can be installed without expert help, easy to maintain, etc. These claims sound promising but do these they have grounds or they are just used to sell the product, a mere marketing jugglery. Relying on security system to stand against threats puts big responsibility on the shoulders of these systems and people expect them to work without fail, as a failure can be fatal, not only to possessions but also to human lives. Do security systems live up to expectations and are as efficient as their creators claim? Can you leave your home and business security on security systems? What are their limitations and common problems associated with them? Let’s find out.
Common problems with current security systems
Security incidents can be brutal, they can cost a fortune and even human lives. Installing security systems to encounter potential security threats seems like a solution but like most other systems, current security systems do have common shortcomings associated with them. These shortcomings range from price to installation and from performance to maintenance of these systems.
Expensive hardware and total cost of ownership
Despite the widespread adoption and growing numbers of installations across the globe, prices of security systems are still not very affordable. Expensive hardware is what most buyers notice during their first encounter with security system. Variation in pricing is also huge. Some DIY home security alarming systems offer starting prices as little as $50, however these product will have comparatively lower quality when it comes to performance and durability. They may require more frequent maintenance calls than high quality security systems. However, high quality security systems will not be cheap. Advertisements of home security systems often show starting price to be surprisingly low, however, pricing can also be tricky. Price of some very basic, systems is kept very low just to publish it with the advertisements. This basic low price system will not serve much purpose and will be largely inadequate for an efficient security implementation. Actual systems that will be able to serve your purpose can be way more expensive than the advertised starting price.
The cost of ownership will again be way more than purchase price, which will include maintenance charges, monitoring subscription fee if it is a monitored system, price of parts, battery replacement cost, contract termination fee, etc. Sometimes a system, claimed as DIY installable equipment, may not actually be the one, despite the claim, on the other hand, some customers may not be able to install it even if it is a Do It Yourself type of equipment. For example, in case of elderly or challenged people, DIY is of not much use, they will require external help to install it. If the security system is a monitored one, you may have to pay monthly monitoring subscription fee that may range from $150 to $1500 per year.
No guaranty of threat prevention
Installing a security system is not a guarantee of protection from the potential threats or occurrence of the security incidents. Criminals have also become smarter and they are aware that security systems are commonly found in homes and business these days. They come prepared. They already know the common locations these systems are installed at and know the methods to disarm them. Sometimes even security equipments get stolen. Security systems like surveillance cameras will only record the incident and cannot do anything to prevent it. Sometimes intensity of the incident will cause security system to fail, for example a fire security systems will fail if fire is broke out due an explosion or huge volume of highly inflammable material. Same way an armed robbery, in which people are taken hostage, will actually expose people to threat when they start searching for the reason of security alarm.
Falsely triggered alarms
This is where security systems’ promise of ‘peace of mind’ gets broken. Siren of your home security systems breaks up in the midnight and wakes your entire family up, only to find out that it was a false alarm caused by your beloved cat or an unknown reason. Security systems make use of available technologies like sensors to detect motions and sense environment. False triggers are one of the major shortcomings of current security systems. Same frequency interference is also a fatal weakness of wireless alarm systems. The whole system will be disable, if you press any of button of wireless keyfob to emit the same frequency, it will cause the alarm to not to receive the signal from triggered wireless detector. Some of manufacturers adopt interference identify alarm method to conquer this problem. Motion detection alarm systems only recognize movements, they sometime trigger in case of pets as well, if pet jumps above their threshold height. Nobody would appreciate a noisy siren in the midnight, specially after spending money on an expensive security system. Repetitive false triggers also make people less reactive when a real incident takes place.
Maintenance not only increases the cost of ownership, it can leave home insecure if equipment had to be uninstalled to fix it. Maintenance may cost more if a security system is being used beyond its recommended limits, for example, in extreme environments.
Failure to precisely sense the surrounding
Security system like motion sensors cover specified area, if area is bigger than the sensor coverage, or the sensors are not properly installed to cover the area, it may leave some insecure patches. Some constructions designs may require more sensors while installing lesser number of sensors will leave some area insecure.
Wired vs. wireless systems
Hardwired systems are considered more reliable than their wireless counterparts, however, wireless systems offer more flexibility and can be installed at the places where wired systems cannot be. A fully wireless system uses individual sensors throughout the home which communicate wirelessly to the central control panel, typically using radio frequency technology. The chief potential drawback of wireless is reliability. Just like Wi-Fi routers or cell phones, wireless security systems are subject to various types of interference which can cause your sensor to fail to respond, or to respond unpredictably (such as triggering a false alarm). While it is possible for these things to happen, these instances are rare. Electromagnetic interference can come from many other devices, including baby monitors, remote controls, power lines, microwave ovens and fluorescent lighting. Structural interference comes from walls, floors, ceilings, or things like metal filing cabinets.
Dependence on electricity
Each wireless sensor contains its own battery, which supplies power in case of a power outage. Inadequate battery performance in case of power outage can put home security at risk.
Security of security systems
If security of wireless systems is not properly configured and enforced, they can be accessed by outsiders. It has particular become a threat with the inception of IoT or smart home security systems, in which these equipments can be accessed and control via the internet. A loophole can compromise security systems and eventually security of your home or business. Radio frequency interference is also one of the weaknesses for a wireless alarm system. It can disable the whole system, if some other equipment emits the same frequency as the security equipment. It will cause the alarm systems to not to receive the wireless signal from triggered wireless detector. In another scenario, signal interference can also trigger alarms as alarming system can take this signal for intrusion.
Each home security monitoring company requires you to utilize their specific hardware. It has been designed and programmed to work with their systems properly. Most offer varying types of security hardware, including window and door sensors, motion detectors and video cameras. This hinders competition and induces monopoly and due to monopoly, prices cannot stay competitive.
Security systems carry the responsibility of protecting property and possessions and problems or inadequacies in these systems can make them unreliable for the job. As the world is increasingly getting dependent on technology, implementation of technology powered security systems has also gained momentum. Now with the rise of IoT and smart devices, smart security solutions are also penetrating market and attracting customers.
IoT is ready to take the world by storm and security systems are also no exception to this. IoT will connect more than a billion security equipments to the internet by the year 2020, and there will be new challenges of security of these equipments. As internet has become increasingly insecure place and incident of information security are making it to the news headlines more often, security experts are looking for ways to safeguard IoT systems.
Security is a relative term and no efforts can ensure 100% security, locks are picked, keys are duplicated and passwords are guessed, even surveillance cameras that are installed as a security measure, get hacked and stolen. However, despite all efforts, security threats are getting more intense, technologically advance and brutal. People behind these malicious motives are increasingly using technology to hack through the layers of security, let it be the physical or the logical security. Threats from the cyberspace are also setting new records of hacking and data breaches. Time has never been more challenging for online safety and data security.
With evolution of Internet of Things, smart home security devices have started penetrating the market. These devices are accessible via the internet and security of these security devices is another big challenge that security experts will have to take care of. Despite known problems of security systems, they will be increasingly implemented by individuals and businesses alike, because that is the only way forward. Increasing adoption rate will make researches and technology experts to patch the loopholes of security systems and they will finally be serving the purpose as they should.