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5 Crucial Ways to Protect Your Home When You’re Gone

Money May 3, 2018
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Going on an extended vacation with no one to take care of the house, or simply looking to protect an investment property when you’re not there? It takes more than just locking the doors. As the world gets smarter and you have to prepare for the possibility of burglars (as well as hackers), your home security system should step up, too. Here are a few ways to hack your home to make sure it’s safe, protected, and vacation-ready.

1. Keep it analog

After all, smart locks and presence sensors are only effective if you lock every door in the first place. That means not only locking windows and pet doors, but also making sure the back door is fully reinforced and that windows have a dowel or safety bar cut to size.

If you’re old school and prefer to set up timers for your lights, go at it. But know that there are an assortment of Wi-Fi light controls that will let you turn lights on and off at will.

2. DIY security systems

A professionally installed security system will cost you more and provide better safeguards (like dispatching the police), but if you’re a hands-on homeowner with a not-too-flashy home, you should be able to manage by installing and integrating your home’s smart tech yourself. Many DIY systems let you coordinate your lights, video cameras, door locks, and even thermostat on the same system. If you really want to customize, many systems like ADT work with If This Then That (IFFT), a free service that lets you specify a series of automated actions: IF the doorbell rings, THEN lock the doors. And so forth.

3. Smart sensors

If a full-blown security system sounds like too much work for you, take a half step and install a smart sensor or two. Motion sensors and flood lights are always handy, but it helps to get the alert delivered straight to you. Place it by the door or an accessible window so you’ll get motion-activated alerts in real time.

4. Protect against water damage

Water damage can be as destructive as any break-in. It can costs thousands of dollars in repairs, lead to life-threatening mold conditions. You might even question why you would take on the responsibility of owning a home, let alone a second home, in the first place. With smart leak detection and prevention systems like Flo, you’ll receive an alert when a leak of any size is detected, giving you the power to remotely shut off water. And in the event of a catastrophic leak, Flo shuts off the water supply automatically for complete peace of mind.

5. Diversify your network

Your high-tech security system will improve your home security by leaps and bounds — unless all your tech is still working off the same extremely-searchable passwords they were programmed with. Then it’s just a few deft keystrokes before any hacker disables the whole system. Always, always, always change the default passwords and, wherever possible, segment your network. If your locks are talking with your CCTV which is talking with Alexa which is talking with your home computers, that’s a problem. If there is a breach, you don’t want your entire home compromised at once. Create a separate guest account for devices connected to your router and the Wi-Fi. (It also helps to have some devices on separate wireless wavelengths like Zigbee and Z-Wave.) In short, the more points of entry you create in your home security ecosystem, the harder it is to crack.

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