Home Automation – How Much Is Too Much?

Is it home automation or home invasion?  Before this became popular, home automation was done by a few companies that specialized in it or it was a DIY for the home owner.  In either case the home owner owned and controlled the system.

home automationToday everyone wants to get into home automation, your phone and cable company, cell phone provider, alarm system company and many others.  They all offer the same services: the ability to control things in your home through your smartphone or tablet.

I recently saw a TV commercial from my cable company showing how you could control or monitor things like your heat or air conditioner, an open door or window, garage door, what about the water, do you have a water leak in your laundry room, how about your hot water heater is it leaking, these are just a few thing that can be monitored.  What the commercial failed to say was that to monitor just the above items, all your windows and doors will have to be wired, sensors will have to be installed on your water heater and in your laundry room, you will have to get new thermostats and new fixtures for your sinks, showers and tubs.

So let’s say that you wanted this and had all the modifications made to your home, great, now you can control and monitor all those things from anywhere in the world.  I hope that this gives you peace of mind, but…let’s look at the dark side.

Whoever is providing the monitoring service for you will know what time you leave the house and what time you return.  How long did you stay in the shower this morning, what is your air or heat set to, how many times you do laundry, and how much electric do you use.  I think that you can see that for everything you have monitored that data will be stored somewhere and if it is stored it can be accessed…think NSA.

Now let’s talk about your cell phone or tablet that controls all of this home automation, are they secured, do you have internet security software installed and updated, do you have a plan ready in case you lose one.  What will you do if a bad guy steals your cell phone and now has the keys to your kingdom?

I am not saying that home automation is a bad thing, but sometimes we can take things too far too fast.  Slow down and think about what you really want.

For more information visit LockingSystems.com.

Holiday Safety Don’t be a Victim this Holiday Season

It seems like the Christmas shopping season starts earlier every year, and this year is no exception.  You are starting to see more TV commercials telling to you start shopping now to avoid the rush. Now is the time to think about Holiday Safety.

Practice Holiday SafetyAs the weeks toward the Holidays go by you will start to hear reports of people getting robbed or their cars getting broken into. You can avoid most of this by shopping online. Most of us still like to get into the Holiday spirit by going shopping and touching the merchandise, then when you spot something you get the satisfaction that you have it now!

So when shopping there are some things that you can do to practice Holiday Safety:

  • Park near the parking lot lights if you will be in the store at night
  • Park as close to the store as possible
  • Never leave anything of value visible in your car and make sure that you lock it
  • Go back and forth to your vehicle putting your bags in the trunk, do not carry out two handfuls of bags
  • When approaching your car be aware of your surroundings, if something or someone makes you feel unsafe, go back into the store and ask for help
  • Approach your vehicle from the back toward the front and look in the rear seat area
  • Once in your car “Lock The Door”

I think that most of this is just common sense; however, in the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season we sometimes forget the very basis of Holiday Safety.

When talking about Holiday Safety we need to mention the safety of your credit cards. I would not recommend anyone shop with a debit card. If lost or stolen the bad guys have direct access to your bank account. Credit cards are much more secure, you just have to be mindful of the money you run up on those credit cards. Remember that cash is always king.

When using your credit card try to keep it in your direct sight when giving it to the store clerk. Make sure you have it before leaving the counter. If you carry a purse carry it across your shoulder and make sure that it is closed and carry it so that the purse is in front not behind you. If you carry a wallet it should be in your front pocket.

We ay Locking Systems International hope you practice Holiday Safety and if we can help,please contact us at 1800.657.LOCK(5624).

Environmental Padlocks — Extreme Weather Padlocks

Extreme Weather PadlocksNot all padlocks function well in bad weather, think freezing temperatures, or salt air and water.  As the weather turns very extreme most “off the shelf” padlocks will fail to open or function properly.  So, is the solution to purchase very expensive padlocks?  The simple answer is no; however, Extreme Weather Padlocks that are designed to operate in extreme conditions tend to be priced higher than standard off the shelf padlocks.

Let’s take a look at what makes an Extreme Weather Padlocks:

  • Most are built out of high quality brass that is usually chrome plated
  • Hardened steel shackles available in different lengths
  • Protection of the lock cylinder
  • No pins or springs in the lock cylinder
  • Patented keyways and keys (this will provide the “high-security label)

Most padlocks operate by the key pushing the locking pins in an upward direction until they reach the “Sheer” line and the lock opens.  Springs provide a downward force on the pins.  This means of operation is fine for most normal weather conditions; however, when it turns extreme, the pins and springs can freeze or get dirt or other debris in the pin chambers.  When this happens the padlock jams and will no longer function.  This is when you see people heating their locks with a torch or squirting a solvent in the lock cylinder in an attempt to clean it out.

Extreme Weather padlocksExtreme Weather Padlocks do not have locking pins or springs.  They operate on a “disc rotating principle”.  The locking pins are replaced by discs; no springs are used or needed.  When the special key is inserted into the lock and turned the discs rotate to the open position determined by the cuts in the key.  These locks do not have individual pin cylinders; instead all of the discs are positioned on a sleeve.  This is the reason why extreme weather conditions do not have the same effect of these padlocks as they do on regular padlocks.

Most Extreme Weather Padlocks  have keyways that are protected by a patent.  This is so the keys can be controlled and sent to Locking Systems International to be cut and controlled to the end user.  These Extreme Weather Padlocks are referred to as “high or maximum security padlocks”.  They are not available from the big box stores and are only available from Locking Systems International who is under contract with the manufacturer.  As stated above, they cost more than standard padlocks, but in return you get a high quality padlock.

For additional information please contact us at 1.800.657.LOCK (5625) or LockingSystems.com.

Cabinet Locks From Mechanical to Electronic

Cabinet locks is a kind of a “Catch All” phrase for locks that lock up cabinets, desks, lockers, medical carts, drug cabinets, and rescue truck cabinets, just to name a few.  Now that you are thinking about cabinets, what type of locks will work?  There is a wide range from mechanical to push button to electronic cabinet locks.  All have their place depending on what you are securing and what type of access control you need.

Cabinet LocksFor your desk, a single bitted utility lock would work just fine; however, if you are locking up drugs in a hospital drug cabinet then you would want to use a high security lock or an electronic cabinet lock with access control.

Types of Cabinet Locks:

  • Single or double bitted
  • Tubular (uses round key-can be upgraded to a patented 7-sided key)
  • SFIC (small formatted removable core) provides security with quick rekeying capability
  • Mechanical high security (provides key control in a high security package)
  • Push button (can be mechanical or electronic with increased security as you step up to the electronic version)
  • Electronic (provides high security with access control-you control who has access into the cabinet and what times they have access)

These are the main types of Cabinet Locks.  There are many variants of each type of lock with the price increasing as you go from mechanical to electronic.

Push Button Cabinet LocksChoosing the right type of lock depends on what you are securing, you wouldn’t want to lock up drugs with a simple utility lock.  The same holds true with electronic locks it would be overkill to lock up hand tools with electronic locks.

Let’s look at another type of cabinet which is used to lock up user keys.  These electronic cabinets provide security to protect keys for all types of applications and all types of items and products.  The cabinet itself is usually locked with electronic locks with biometric entry.  To open the door you have to put in your access code, and then scan your finger print or even your eye.  Once inside, the electronics will track what key you remove and for how long you have it.

If you are securing many cabinets, say in a hospital setting, then it is best you use a lock service center such as Locking Systems International who can provide consulting services as well as helping with the lock selection and installation.  If you are only locking up a few cabinets then you should be able to purchase the locks and install them yourself.

For additional information please contact us at: LockingSystems.com.

Home Security It’s Time for Your Home Security Inventory

When discussing Home Security there are a lot of different factors to talk about. We will try and touch on the most common and the most important aspects of your Home Security. The most Home Securitycommon are door locks, alarm systems, the door itself, internet security, Wi-Fi security, social media security. There are more but these are the most important. You should consider all of them when taking your Home Security inventory.

Locks: Your door locks should be at least a grade 2 lock. You should take inventory of your keys, do you know how many you have and who has them. If not consider re-keying your locks to a new code. Deadbolt Locks should be on all exterior door and don’t forget the door from your garage into your house.

Alarm Systems: If you have an alarm system it does you no good if you don’t use it. Alarm systems can get very complex. You should have at least these basic options: your system should have an audible alarm at your house, it should be monitored by a central monitoring station, and have a cell backup. Your windows and doors should be monitored and you should have motion sensors. You should use it every time you leave your home as well as during the night.

DoArrow Home Securityors: All exterior doors should be solid either wood, steel or fiberglass. You can have great locks, but if someone can kick in the door they do you no good. Any solid doors should have a view hole so you can see who is at the door before you open it.

Garage Doors: Don’t neglect this door, make sure that your garage door opener has the latest revolving codes. Don’t leave your remote control in an unlocked vehicle. When you leave for vacation disconnect the garage door opener.

Internet and Wi-Fi Security: Make sure that your computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones have some type of internet security protection. This is especially important if you do any type of internet banking or investing. Any Wi-Fi connections should also be secured with the latest WAP2 protection and make sure that you use strong passwords. This is fast becoming one of the most important home security measures.

Push Button Home SecuritySocial Media Security: You shouldn’t advertise when you are not home or away on vacation. Your children should be told the importance of this. The last thing you want is to tell the burglars when the best time to break into your house is. Also monitor your children’s on line activities; there are a lot of people waiting to take advantage of them.

For additional information please go to Locking Systems.com or call us at 1.800.657.LOCK (5625).

The PUCK Padlock – What Is It and is it secure

To understand the PUCK Padlock you need to understand how it evolved.  Padlocks have been securing everything from storage units to tackle boxes for as long as anyone one of us can Changeable PUCK Padlocksremember.  One thing common to the traditional looking padlocks is the shackle.  The shackle comes in many different lengths and widths depending on the padlock body size and what it is locking up.  You wouldn’t put a padlock with a 2 inch body and a 3/8 inch shackle on a tackle box, the padlock would weigh more that the tackle box itself.  The PUCK Padlock was invented because the major attach point of any padlock is the shackle.

The smaller shackle diameter the easier it is to cut, for larger shackles a larger pair of bolt cutters are used.  The second attack point is where the shackle enters the padlock body.  This point is attacked by using a hammer and hitting the body where the shackle enters it.  As the padlock size increases so does the hammer used.

Now that you know how the PUCK Padlock evolved, how does it work and what makes it special?

  • There is no externally visible shackle, therefore nothing to cut or attack
  • The round shape of the lock makes attack more difficult
  • Solid steel is usually the material used for body construction
  • The body and internal shackle is usually hardened for added strength
  • The lock cylinder comes in many different options from mechanical to electronic
  • Special padlock hasps protect the padlock by completely shielding it
PUCK Padlock

Hardened Solid Steel

Over the years the PUCK Padlock has increased in popularity and features.  Different versions of electronics are available depending on the manufacturer and the process they use.  Some even have no visible keyway or key hole.  However with increased electronics comes increased costs and many people are not prepared to pay.  There seems to be a cost ceiling.

One manufacturer has responded to this by inventing a PUCK Padlock that the end user can choose their security level by choosing the lock cylinder.  The cylinders are standard off the shelf lock cylinders that the end user can even change themselves.  The lock cylinders can be medium security or high security, they can even be cylinders with a built in 8-change cylinder.  The unique design of the “PUCK” padlock is patented and when combined with a patented lock cylinder, the combination is a physically strong padlock with key control.

These new PUCK Padlocks are only available at Locking Systems International.

Made in the USAHow made in the USA.

Extreme Weather Padlocks

Not all padlocks function well in bad weather, think freezing temperatures, or salt air and water.  As the weather turns very extreme most “off the shelf” padlocks will fail to open or function properly.  So, is the solution to purchase very expensive padlocks?  The simple answer is no; however, padlocks that are designed to operate in extreme conditions require Extreme Weather Padlocks and tend to be priced higher than standard off the shelf padlocks.

Extreme Weather PadlocksLet’s take a look at what makes Extreme Weather Padlocks operate in extreme environmental conditions:

  • Most are built out of high quality brass that is usually chrome plated
  • Hardened steel shackles available in different lengths
  • Protection of the lock cylinder
  • No pins or springs in the lock cylinder
  • Patented keyways and keys (this will provide the “high-security label)

Most padlocks operate by the key pushing the locking pins in an upward direction until they reach the “Sheer” line and the lock opens.  Springs provide a downward force on the pins.  This means of operation is fine for most normal weather conditions; however, when it turns extreme, the pins and springs can freeze or get dirt or other debris in the pin chambers.  When this happens the padlock jams and will no longer function.  This is when you see people heating their locks with a torch or squirting a solvent in the lock cylinder in an attempt to clean it out.

Extreme weather padlocks do not have locking pins or springs.  They operate on a “disc rotating principle”.  The locking pins are replaced by discs; no springs are used or needed.  When the special key is inserted into the lock and turned the discs rotate to the open position determined by the cuts in the key.  These locks do not have individual pin cylinders; instead all of the discs are positioned on a sleeve.  This is the reason why extreme weather conditions do not have the same effect of these padlocks as they do on regular padlocks.

Extreme Weather padlocksMost padlocks of this type have keyways that are protected by a patent.  This is so the keys can be controlled and sent to Locking Systems International to be cut and controlled to the end user.  These padlocks are referred to as “high or maximum security padlocks”.  They are not available from the big box stores and are only available from Locking Systems International who is under contract with the manufacturer.  As stated above, they cost more than standard padlocks, but in return you get a high quality padlock.

For additional information go to LsiDepot.com.

Credit Card Security – What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

We have all heard the news concerning the theft of credit card information from 70 million customers of a large retailer.  This is not the first time this has happened, other companies have been compromised.  It won’t be the last either.  The bad guys are very good at what they do and they won’t stop.  So what is “Credit Card Security” and what can you do to protect yourself?

Credit Card SecurityUnder Federal law a company must notify its customers when it learns of a credit card security breach and the extent.  Many companies will provide free credit monitoring for a certain period of time if you have been compromised.  If you have been notified that your credit or debit card has been stolen you should immediately call your credit card company or bank and ask them cancel that card and issue another one.  Then you should set up your credit monitoring and check it often.

Above is an example of massive theft, but you should also be aware of day to day ways that your credit or debit card information can be stolen.

  • Gas stations-“skimmers” are used to steel your credit or debit card numbers
  • Restaurants-when your server takes your card for payment they will usually go somewhere outside of your sight
  • ATMs-skimmers are also used along with someone who will visually try and get pin number

Those are just a few ways to get you thinking.  If your card is stolen, the bad guys can go on to compromise your identity “Identify Theft”, which is very serious.  With your card, they have your name, they can go to social media and find out where you live, your address and all kinds of other information.

Shopping on-line is actually safer, because your card is never out of your control, you never give it to someone, and all your card information is encrypted from your computer to the card processor.  You should also consider using a credit card instead of a debit card when shopping on line.  With a debit card the merchant has your money from your account, in most cases, before you even get the product.  If there is a problem you can contest it, but it might be a while before you see that money in your account again.  With a credit card if you put something into dispute you don’t pay that bill until the credit card company investigates.

If you feel that your ID has been stolen you should consider putting a “Credit Freeze” on your credit with all three credit agencies.  You can find information on their web sites.

Experian-888.397.3742

Equifax-888.766.0008

TransUnion-877.322.8228

For additional information call 800.657.LOCK (5625) or visit www.lockingsystems.com.

What is Key Control — What Does Key Control Mean to You?

In some of the past articles that I have written you have seen me mention Key Control.  What is this and why is it important to you?  We must discuss Key Control in the context of lock security Lockable Key Rings-Provides Key Controlas they go together.  So, if you have your key in your hand you have control of your key and therefore you have Key Control right?  No that’s wrong.

Physical control is only one part of Key Control, there are many others such as:

  • Is the key protected by a U.S. Patent?
  • Do you know how many keys were cut?
  • Do you know where all your keys are?
  • Can you have more keys made—if so, where?

These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself.  Let me give a practical example that drives home the Key Control point.

Let’s say that you keep your house key attached to your car key ring, or maybe you keep your house key in the glove compartment of your car.  If you valet park your car or maybe take it in for repair, you turn your keys over to someone.  There is the possibility that someone can take your house key, walk into any Big Box Store and get the key duplicated.  When you get your car back all your keys are right where you left them.  The problem is that now someone has a copy of your key and they know where you live.  Sounds bad—it is!

Super48 Key-Bak Key Reel-Provides Key Control

Retractable Key Rings

Try this test, take your house key and walk into any Big Box Store.  Ask them to make you another key.  They will take your key and duplicate it.  No questions asked.  Look at all the key blanks they have that match the profile of many keys.

So how do you protect yourself?

  • Make sure the lock and key that you purchase are protected by a U.S. Patent. Yes, this will cost more to purchase but how much is your family’s safety worth.
  • Purchase your new lock and key from someone that will register your key codes to you.
  • You should not find these key blanks at Big Box Stores.
  • You will have to show identification before having additional keys cut.
  • Account for all your keys, if 5 keys were originally cut you should know where all 5 are and who has them.

Changeable Cabinet Locks-Patented Key ControlWas this Blog meant to scare you?  Yes it was.  It was also written to make you aware that all locks and keys are not created equal.  Any security professional will tell you that “Key Control” is one of the most important parts of the security of the lock.

So now that you know what Key Control is, what are you going to do about it?  Call us at 800.657.LOCK (5625) or www.LsiDepot.com.

RV Security Protect Your Mobile House

It seems that when we hook up our RV and head out for a week of camping we forget all of the things that keep us safe at our homes and everyday lives. You have to remember that your RV is actually your mobile house. When you arrive at the campground and set it up you are in your house. Most of this RV Security is just common sense stuff that we practice every day.

RV Security Locks for your RVRV Security to Keep in Mind:

  • Make sure that all your locks work properly including your storage locks
  • Lock the doors when leaving your RV
  • If you don’t feel comfortable when you arrive at the camp ground find another one
  • If your site doesn’t make you feel secure ask for another one
  • If you have a Motor Coach take your ignition keys when you leave or at least don’t leave them in the ignition
  • If you are towing a Travel Trailer or 5th Wheel keep your vehicle locked
  • If you are towing a small vehicle keep it locked

These are just some of the common sense stuff that if you practice your camping experience will be a much safer one.

Always keep a watch over your children, know where they are. Most campgrounds have pools or are near lakes or rivers. Never leave them alone near any body of water. Most of this is just stuff that we do every day; however, when we go camping we sometimes forget that all the rules that apply in our everyday lives should also apply when we are camping.

Cobra7 RV Lock for RV Security

Cobra-7 Tubular Lock

RV storage is also something that we should consider. If you store your RV at your house keep it locked. Instead of keeping a window open for air circulation keep a roof vent open. If you store your RV at a storage facility find one that is fenced and has some type of security gate. Security cameras would be a great plus. Again keep your doors and storage compartments locked and a roof vent open. Consider an alarm system with an internal video monitoring system. Many RV’s have sky lights, these are mode of plastic that can be easily cut open. You should go by and check your RV as often as possible.

Also consider changing your locks if possible. I am on my third RV and all of them use the same key for the storage compartments. This didn’t give me a great sense of security.

Always remember that your RV is your mobile house practice good RV Security.

For additional information please call 800.657-LOCK (5625). or visit us at LsiDepot.com.