Data Privacy Day: Button Up Your Defenses

We’re fast approaching International Data Privacy Day: January 28. This event, hopefully, will spur businesses and individuals to think about just how safe their data is — and hopefully, take action to address any protection shortcomings.  

Here in New England, it’s also an excellent time to assess our own data security. Regrettably, as the National Cyber Security Alliance points out, millions “are unaware of and uninformed about how their personal information is being used, collected or shared in our digital society.” 

As this blog just recently noted, the risks of cyber/web crime are going up, with hackers and other similar criminals using ever-more powerful techniques and technologies against us. According to the “Boston Business Journal,” in 2019, the Bay State alone saw 605,000 of its residents have their private data exposed by breaches. That is up by roughly a third from 2018, when 443,000 Massachusetts citizens were affected. 

Commercial and Private Data Dangers 

As individuals, we face many risks caused by hackers or by our own revelations through social media platforms and the like. If our data is vulnerable anonymous identity thieves can victimize us easily. They can break into a less-than-diligent retail chain’s server to steal our credit card number and make purchases on our dime. This is bad enough.  

However, some individuals and businesses also hold other people’s data — such as client or patient Social Security information or other identifiers. These organizations may also face legal repercussions for failing to take proactive action to protect all third-party data.  

Massachusetts law dictates any data breach of third party data must be reported to state agencies, and to “any consumers whose data is at risk.” This can damage your professional reputation and lead to loss of income, among other negative results.  

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3G Sunset Hits Security Industry

A major change in mobile communication networks is on the horizon and will affect millions of security systems nationwide. The sunset of 3G cellular networks has begun, and you may need to take action to ensure your home or business security system will be able to communicate with our 24-7 monitoring station in the future.

“This is part of adapting to technology evolution,” said Maria Moretti, director of corporate operations at American Alarm. “We went through it, on a smaller scale, several years ago when the 2G network was shut down. So, we understand the impact and the importance of getting ahead of the curve for our customers.”

As many as 10 million home and business security systems in the United States now use 3G communicators to transmit signals to a monitoring station. The transportation industry is also affected significantly, with millions of tractor trailer trucks and delivery vehicles using 3G communicators for their wireless telematics systems.

“Anyone using a 3G communicator today will have to update their technology to make sure their systems can still send signals,” Moretti said. “We are staffing up now to help our customers make the transition.”

The end of 3G is occurring because the national wireless carriers, including Verizon and ATT are deploying new technologies to accommodate growing demands for streaming content, and for the exponential growth of networked wireless devices, often called the Internet of Things. To make room for the new network technology, both with frequency bandwidth and equipment on their towers, the wireless carriers will shut down their existing 3G networks.

The exact timing of the 3G sunset is an evolving matter, as the change will occur tower-by-tower in specific areas of the country, not all at once. Verizon and ATT are expected to keep most of their 3G networks operating until at least 2021. However, some parts of the country, including areas here in New England, are already losing 3G coverage.

“What we saw during the 2G sunset is the timing can be unpredictable,” Moretti said. “We want to make sure our customers’ security systems can always communicate with our central station so we can react to emergencies. That’s why we are launching our 3G update program now.”

American Alarm will be reaching out to affected customers by mail with more details.


Self-Checkout: Most Commonly Stolen Items

Gaps Plague Retail Self-Checkout Security

We know that self-supporting retail technology — with its sensors, devices and big data capabilities — offers us many conveniences. However, basic self-checkout platforms don’t always work well for retailers, here in New England, and beyond.

In fact, the Springfield, Massachusetts-based chain of stores Big Y World Class Markets decided it had to remove its self- checkout aisles, according to a Worcester article. In large part, this move was because of the higher incidence of thefts. The article notes that shoplifting is five times more likely at a self-checkout terminal than at a typical human-manned cash register. Read more

Don’t Take Business Security for Granted

For small to medium business owners/operators who may think investing in security is unnecessary, the reality is burglars are four times more likely to strike a business than a home, according to Forbes.

All it takes is one burglary, cyber-attack or act of vandalism to seriously disrupt your operations. Worse, such an attack can shutter your business permanently. Read more

Stay Merry this Thanksgiving by Taking Fire Precautions

The only thing worse than a burnt turkey on Thanksgiving is being forced to evacuate your home because of a fire. Thanksgiving Day is the most common day for kitchen fires in New England and across the nation, as pointed out by NECN, and cooking accidents are the leading cause (77 percent) of Thanksgiving house fires nationally, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Read more

Protecting the New England Holiday Retail Industry

As the holiday retail season approaches, retailers and supermarket owners of all sizes in New England must defend themselves against theft. As a retailer, there are many steps you can take, including adding electronic surveillance systems throughout your store.

While the holiday season provides 34 percent of annual retail sales, it also accounts for 37 percent of yearly shrinkage, as a Forbes article notes. The biggest contributors to shrinkage are shoplifting and employee theft. Read more

Protecting Seasonal Homes and Businesses

Columbus Day came and went, and winter is coming soon. Seasonal businesses are closing, and part-time residents will be returning to their winter homes. Everyone hopes to return next May to find their work or living quarters in the same conditions as they left them. Read more

How to Protect Your Home Security System from Door Knockers

beware of home security system scam artistsThis past winter we warned you about holiday packages stolen from doorsteps. Today we’re posting another doorstep crime that happens when those cold temperatures begin to rise. During the spring and summer months, dishonest scam artists, known as “Door Knockers”, go door-to-door selling fake home security systems. How do they do it? They’ll sound credible, mislead you and then pressure you into signing their binding contract. The pitch sounds something like this: 

“Hello, I’m from Acme Alarm Systems. Did you know American Alarm is bankrupt? As a courtesy to you, they asked me to void your old contract and present a new one. But you must sign now to maintain your services.” Read more

How to Setup Your Security System in Your New Home

Earlier this month we shared three reasons to update your home’s security system prior to selling. Now we’ll discuss moving into the home of your dreams. You’ve got the white picket fence, beautifully landscaped flower beds, and the big grassy backyard perfect for kids and a dog. Everything is in place for you to begin the rest of your life. Or is it?  Read more

Top 3 Reasons to Update Your Home Security System Prior to Selling

Update Home Security System Before SellingIf your home’s on the market, you’re likely exhausted from rushing around re-painting the spare bedroom, upgrading the kitchen counter or retiling the bathroom shower. The good news is, there’s no better time than Spring to sell your home and the best two-week window is the first half of May. In fact, U.S. homes listed in the May 1-15 period generally sell almost two weeks faster than the average listing in the year. If that’s not incentive enough, the negotiated price is $2,400 more, on average.  Read more