Tag Archives: burglary prevention

Security Concept: Attack Vector

24 Sep

Our last discussion looked at the security concepts of lock down and layered security. Attack vector is another important security concept. Different agencies and organizations have different words for this but it all comes down to the same concept.

Your adversary wants to attack you and they will attack you through some perceived weakness, a vector. Vector means a pointy little arrow. You can think of the arrow going through the path they’re trying to attack you. If a burglar kicks in your front door, the attack vector is the front door. Burglar crawls in through window, attack vector is the window.

In our last post, ThoughtfullyPrepping correctly said the best “lock down” to your PC being hacked over the Internet is pulling the connection to the Internet. The Internet is the primary attack vector hackers use to get into your system. We can subdivide this into smaller attack vectors. Some of the most common computer hacker attack vectors:

1) Your web browser
2) Your e-mail client
3) JAVA installed on your system
4) Flash player
5) Acrobat Reader

Some attacks go through one thing and then use another: A web browser attack taking advantage of flash player. These last three items have had tens of thousands of vulnerabilities over the years. How can you nullify attacks through these popular attack vectors?

If you don’t need it, uninstall JAVA. You could go without flash player, but how then would you play sheep dash or online flappy bird? Too great a sacrifice. Inside your browser you can install an add on (flashblock) that blocks flash content from automatically playing. This give you control over which flash content is allowed. Keep flash player updated. Visit the Flash Player Settings Manager website to check your settings and choose stronger settings than the defaults.

You can replace Acrobat Reader with a less targeted and less bloated pdf reader like Sumatra PDF.

For an e-mail client, choose one that doesn’t support scripting or one which can turn it off. Avoid Outlook and anything that supports Active X on Windows platform. Don’t open attachments in e-mails from strangers. Just delete them.

You could run your web browser sandboxed, using the free program Sandboxie. It will break many sites, but you can install browser add ons like NoScript which keep javascript and other scripts from running. Turn the extension off when you need scripting. For privacy, add Ghostrey to your browser.

By looking at known attack vectors you can reduce your vulnerability to attacks. By listing possible attack vectors you can get a good idea of how you can be attacked. It gets you thinking about how you can secure each line of attack.

The greatest weakness is entirely missing an attack vector. You’ve secured your home. The doors are bullet proof. The windows, impenetrable. A tiny burglar crawls through your dog door. A missed attack vector.

In the book, I devoted a page to securing window air conditioners. Why? It’s an overlooked burglar attack vector. Most ACs just sit in the window frame, held in place by a few tiny screws at the top. Burglars can easily push the AC into the home and crawl through the window. If you have a window AC, spend some time to secure it.

Securing your garage door from having the traveller disconnected is another overlooked home security attack vector.

When you secure anything, be it your home, computer, survival retreat, vehicle, anything, make a list of possible attack vectors. Don’t be overwhelmed. If you’re on the ball, you’ll see a huge amount of attack area. You can’t bulletproof everything. You don’t need to. The vast majority of attacks look for easy vulnerabilities. Something as simple as a locked door discourages break ins. A reinforced door makes a kick in difficult. Most burglars will move on to the house down the road when confronted with a few hardened attack vectors.

The same is true with computer hackers. Unless you’ve pissed off the NSA, when a hacker finds their favorite attack vectors closed, they’ll move on to hacking somebody else.

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The Three To Five Ds of Burglary Prevention (Home Hardening Techniques Continued)

18 Oct

In previous posts we looked at the nuts and bolts of hardening doors. In this post we’re going to step back and take a more theoretical look at protecting your home from burglars.

Police officers and the military like to talk about the three to five Ds. How many Ds there are depends on who you talk with. We’ll compromise and choose the number 4. The four Ds of home hardening are:

1) Deter
2) Detect
3) Delay
4) Defend

There is overlap between the Ds. A big dog barking is a strong deterrent to a burglar. His barking alerts people to somebody’s presence thus helping detect the burglar’s presence. If he takes a bite out of crime, he’ll also delay and defend.

1) Deterrence. Anything that encourages a burglar to choose another house to burgle is a deterrent. These are common deterrents:

a) Somebody is home and answers the door.
b) A barking dog inside the home.
c) Multiple strong deadbolts, indicating it might be difficult to get past the door.
d) A sign saying you have an alarm system. From the burglar’s perspective, why take a chance?
e) Video surveillance cameras. Burglars don’t want to be detected. They’re usually camera shy.
f) A lack of concealment around doors and windows. More chance of being spotted by a passerby or neighbor.
g) Lights inside the house or a TV on indicating that somebody might be home.
h) Vehicles parked in the driveway, indicating somebody might be home.

Deterrence is the best because in the end it means you’re home won’t be targeted. There are more subtle ways to deter a burglar. A fenced in backyard asserts territorial rights. It sends a message that strangers should knock at the front. Somebody in the fenced in yard is more suspicious.

2) Detecting. The idea is that burglars want to get in and out and not be seen or heard. Anything that alerts others to their presence increases the chances of arrest. These are some common ways of detecting a burglar:

a) A barking dog inside the home.
b) An alarm that sounds loudly when they enter the house.
c) An alarm system that contacts the police or the home’s owner if the shell of the home is breached.
d) The sound of breaking glass.
f) A lack of concealment around doors and windows.
g) Strong hardened doors which force the burglar to take more time to get in. Time is a burglar’s enemy. The more time it takes, the more likely he’ll be caught. The more noise he must make, the more likely he’ll be caught.

The options today for early detection are immense. With a bit of know how, you can set up surveillance cameras that can be remotely monitored with your cell phone. You can set up an auto-dialer to notify you if your alarm system is tripped. If electronics is one of your hobbies, you can create your own cell phone auto-dialer to attach to your alarms.

Remote monitoring and an auto-dialer is a powerful combination. If you get the call, you can inspect what’s happening. You can notify the police with less fear of false alarms.

3) Delaying entry. To keep from getting caught, burglars want to operate fast. Anything that delays their entry into your home minimizes the chances they’ll continue trying to get in. Another D some like is Deny. A strong gun safe might completely deny a burglar access to your most precious possessions. Denying is delaying indefinitely. Here are some common ways of delaying a burglar:

a) Strong locks and a reinforced door jamb.
b) A lockable storm door before your main entry door.
c) Replacing lower level windows with glass block.
d) Installing pins to close unused double hung windows.
e) Installing a bar to keep a sliding window from sliding open.

Anything that creates uncertainty in the burglar’s mind will delay him, if not deter him. If it’s night and the shades are down, he can’t see inside. Is somebody home or not? He’ll knock longer than if he can see into the home into many rooms, seeing nobody home.

4) Defending your home. Defense. This is what many preppers focus on. If your home is under attack, how do you defend it? Your options depend on if you’re home or not! Here are some common ways of defending your home:

a) Answer the door, or not. If somebody suspicious is casing your home, knocking on doors and looking in windows, the easiest way to send them on their way is to let them know you’re home. Don’t open the door to them though. The downside: They might try again later.

Another option is not to answer the door. Watch them. If it becomes more and more clear they’re targeting your home for a break in, call the police. Delay them before showing your presence. This is only a good option if you’re armed and can defend yourself if they breach your home’s shell. Remember, one solid kick can do in many doors. The idea is to maximize the chance that this burglar gets caught and will not to target your home again.

b) Arm yourself. Get your Glock 19 or your 870 Remington and your cell phone. Call police, but be prepared to defend yourself if attacked.

c) Take up your chosen defensive position. If you have hardened doors and secured windows and an alarm, you’ll have a bit of warning before a burglar enters. One option commonly recommend is to have a safe room. The idea is that you can call the police from the safety of a reinforced room with a locked door. That sounds great in theory, but most people don’t have safe rooms.

If you don’t have a firearm or a safe room, another option is to hide. Burglars are less likely to look in an attic. Hide under a pile of laundry in the laundry room. Decide upon a clever hiding place if you go with this option.

The easiest option: If you’ve gone for your cell phone and gun, stay in that room if it’s defendable. If you’ve just awoken, do you really know where the intruders are? You don’t want to be taken by surprise. Staying in the bedroom is safest. If you have small children in other rooms, staying put might not be an option: You want to get to them to protect them.

If armed, I’d prefer to meet intruders right at the entry door. The ideal location would give you a measure of concealment and would leave the burglar exposed. The best situation: You have cover and they’d be channeled into a small area with few options. If you can confront them while they’re in an entry hall that would be great. They only can go two directions.

An entry hall with a few stairs, even better. You want to be far enough away so that they can’t physically charge you. The idea would be to trap them and hold them at gunpoint until the police arrived.

d) If you’re not home, hide your valuables so the burglar can’t find them. Burglars don’t have time to search for hidden compartments. They’ll look the usual places, focusing most attention on the bedrooms.

e) If you have the capability, remotely trigger an alarm and call the police. As I write in my book, I don’t advocate boobytraps because of the legal ramifications. In most or all jurisdictions, it’s not acceptable to injure a burglar merely to protect property.

Sorry this post has gotten so long. I hope it’s given you some new ideas to protect your home from burglars.

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

Burglary Prevention

15 Jan

In the book, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning, I write quite a bit about hardening your home against intruders and burglary prevention.

When burglars case a home, their main goal is to find out whether or not you’re home. Most burglars don’t want to break into a home with people in it. When criminals knowingly enter a home with people at home, it’s called a home invasion. Those criminals are particularly dangerous, because they aren’t trying to avoid a confrontation.

When we’re away from home, we want burglars to think we’re at home. They’ll choose another house to rob. Denying them information about whether or not we’re home is important. Information Denial is one key to maintaining security.

This fact was hammered home when I was looking at some footprints in the snow of some burglars who had cased a house, but had been unsuccessful in robbing it. One set of footprints stood right in front of the garage window. The garage was unattached. They looked in to see what goodies were present or to see if a vehicle was there. A lack of vehicles about a home could make burglars think nobody is home.

If you live on a street where few cars are parked and you keep your own vehicles in the garage, give some thought to purchasing blinds or drapes for your garage windows. Can a burglar see your cars inside your garage? How could a burglar casing your house know whether or not you’re at home? Look for telltale signs you inadvertently give away.

While we’re talking about garages, many burglars like your tools. Either to steal or to use to break into your own home. Family Handyman has a nice article about protecting your garage from intruders.

More tips on avoiding break ins.

Usaonwatch.org has a nice pdf about home security, which emphasizes the key goals of: deter, detect, delay. You want to deter burglars from targeting your home. You want to detect them as soon as possible. The quicker they’re detected, the less chance they have to succeed. You want to delay them. The more time it takes them to get into your house, the more likely they’ll leave and attack an easier target or someone will discover them.

Jim Cobb, author of Prepper’s Home Defense (SurvivalWeekly.com), wisely adds “defend” to the motto. If your security is breached, you must fight or flee, if you happen to be at home.

I’ve heard some fellows add another “d” to the motto: decapitate. It sounds bad-a** but is a bad idea. Under normal circumstances, you really want to avoid confrontations, and you shouldn’t seek to hurt a burglar, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Information denial can sometimes work the wrong way. If you’re an old codger taking a nap at noon and you wake up to use the bathroom and discover three gents trying to beat down your door, it can be a big surprise to everybody involved.

They probably followed the proper burglar etiquette of knocking on the front door to see if anybody answered. They probably knocked loudly next. They knocked on the backdoor. They didn’t see activity in the home. Lights were largely off, to save electricity. Just when they’re completely convinced nobody is home, you pop up at the window. Surprise! Somebody is home.

Even if you don’t want to invest in a home alarm system, purchasing a cheap door alarm  can alert you to the most common break-in attempt, kicking in a backdoor. A barking dog is another option.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t answer your door though. Many people, including police officers, don’t. That’s just one of the risks burglars must take! Most burglaries occur during daytime hours in middle class neighborhoods because people are away at their day jobs.

If you do have an alarm system, it might have a “panic” button, designed to set off your alarm manually. You can use that to your advantage if burglars are casing your house, while you’re inside watching them. Somebody knocks on your door. You ignore it. They’re probably trying to sell you something, convert you into something, or get you to sign something. Any which way, you don’t need it.

The guy comes back and knocks again. He has buddies with him, peeking into your windows. Well, this isn’t good, you think. Maybe you dial the police to let them know what’s up. If you don’t want to test the integrity of your door, just when one prepares to kick the door, you hit the alarm button.

Waiting until the last minute had both a downside and an upside. On the upside, it gave the police maximum time to respond. On the downside, the burglars had more time to case the house and learn more about it for a possible future attempt. Unless they’ve tried to break the door down, they might not have broken the law either. There is a chance they’re in possession of drugs, have outstanding warrants, or are in possession of other stolen property which could lead to a direct arrest. Police can see what they look like.

The other option is showing yourself at the last moment, if you’re a fairly strong-looking guy. The burglars will probably be in a hurry to get away at this point. You shouldn’t open the door, there might be several other burglars with them.

What if you’re facing a home invasion and are told to turn off a sounding alarm? Does your alarm system have a duress code?  That’s a special code like a silent alarm used by banks. While it disables the audible alarm at the home, it sends a message to your security company or to the police. You’re turning off the alarm under duress.

Cobb and many military guys like silent alarms. These alarms alert you to an attempt to breach your security. It gives you time to respond, without letting the adversary know that you know about their presence. If you’re trying to survive under harsh social conditions, where the attackers are likely to continue attacking, a loud alarm offers little advantage. Police aren’t available. The intruders might not be scared off. You want to retain the element of surprise for your counterattack. Under normal social conditions, a loud alarm can alert neighbors, police, or scare away an intruder.

I wouldn’t recommend this for most people, but if you had problems with repeat burglaries and are desperate to put and end to them, you could wait until the burglars had breached your door before responding. You’d want to be armed. The idea would be to hold them at gunpoint until the police arrived, after they had broken into your home. In some states, this, technically, wouldn’t be a viable legal option: You’re legally required to flee your own home rather than confront intruders inside of it.

Once criminals have entered your home, your scope of operations is greater. If necessary, you could use lethal force with less risk of legal prosecution. This doesn’t mean there aren’t risks: you could get sued by a burglar or even charged with a crime.

There is an issue of “premeditation” if things go horribly wrong and you’re forced to shoot. Premeditation means you thought through the sequence of events in your brain before you were forced to act. It sounds dangerously close to prepping! I’ve read that in England keeping a bat near your bed could be deemed “premeditation” of intent to hurt a burglar!

Well, this post has gotten a lot longer than I planned. I hope some of the advice will be helpful to you. And, remember, be alert and pay attention for your neighbors too. The burglar that successfully strikes them today might come after you tomorrow.

Charlie Palmer -author of The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning

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With the school shooting, some say America should emulate Australia and “buy back” all military style weapons in the country. Although a great country, Australia is by no means perfect, it has one of the world’s highest burglary rates (nearly 3% a year).