Can a burglar jam your wireless security system?

If our findings alarm you, don’t start running around your house collecting sensors to throw in the trash. “Jamming attacks are technically possible, but highly unlikely to occur in real life,” says Fred Garcia, CR Test Engineer for Privacy and Security. “We do not recommend that you discard these systems, but you should be aware that they are vulnerable.”

There is no real way to avoid systems with wireless technology. According to Kirk MacDowell, president of home security consulting firm MacGuard Security Advisors, most of today’s home security systems, whether professionally installed or do-it-yourself, use wireless devices. They’re easier and faster to install, don’t require drilling holes for wiring, and are so small they can be hidden in window and door frames.

He says the industry is making changes to prevent this kind of attack, however.

“The alarm industry has responded with 128-bit encrypted sensors with frequency hopping, which makes jamming less of a problem,” MacDowell says. “And most professional alarm dealers use this technology.” Frequency hopping is exactly what it sounds like – a sensor changes the frequency it uses to broadcast its signal, hopping from one to the other in an effort to avoid potential interference.

And our tests prove that it is possible to design a system that is more resistant to jamming. Our test engineers were unable to crash five systems made by Blue by ADT, Ecobee, Honeywell Home, Kangaroo, and Ooma.

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