Thanks Kim for guest posting today.
Protecting your home and family is more important than ever in today’s high-tech, digital age. Although technology has added a new measure of security to some aspects of modern life, it has revealed startling new areas of vulnerability, as well. Identity theft, Internet stalking, radio-frequency identification (RFID) scanners and e-mail phishing scams are just a few ways that today’s cyber-thieves are able to intrude into your life and threaten the ones you love. That’s why smart homeowners are investing in hi-tech solutions to protect their families and their homes. From total home automation to simple keypad activated alarms, consumers are finding affordable, effective solutions to fit their lifestyles, their budgets and their individual needs.
Total Home Automation
These top-of-the-line systems automate almost every aspect of your home life, from temperature to lighting to the locks on your windows and doors. You control the system from an in-home web server activated from your home computer or a web-enabled TV. When you’re away, you do the same from a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device, which lets you access the system, change parameters and receive information and alerts. Some systems even allow you to visually monitor your home using web cams installed in strategic locations. The initial cost for installation and activation of a fully automated home system is substantial, usually around $5000 to $15,000. However, the system can pay for itself in energy savings, convenience and peace of mind over the course of several years.
In many areas of the U.S., a number of companies offer home monitoring systems at very reasonable monthly rates. Products range from simple keypad activated alarms to a full spectrum of home monitoring services, including fire, intruder and carbon monoxide alerts, automated door and window locks and video monitoring of the exterior and interior of your home. Subscription rates vary, but generally are in the neighborhood or $50 to $60 per month—about the same cost as a subscription to cable TV. Installation charges range from about $100 for a simple security system to $400 or more for interior and exterior surveillance with wireless controls. Most companies include all equipment at no additional cost if you agree to a contract term of between 24 and 36 months.
Identity Theft Protection
These days, protecting your identity and your personal information is at least as important as protecting your home. Identity theft is a burgeoning criminal enterprise. According to a 2013 report by Javelin Strategy and Research, identity fraud incidents in 2012 numbered more than 12.6 million, an increase of more than one million from the previous year. What’s more, identity thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated. Once restricted primarily to strategies such as mail theft, dumpster diving and the theft of personal documents, today’s identity thieves have a sophisticated arsenal of cyber-tools that can steal your information in seconds, sometimes with nothing more elaborate than a swipe of your credit card.
Fortunately for consumers, protection against identity theft is inexpensive and readily available. A growing number of companies provide advanced levels of protection, including credit bureau monitoring, notifications of suspicious activity on your accounts and credit score tracking for as little as $10 to $20 per month. Most also provide insurance of up to $1 million to cover the cost of your actual losses and the investigation of any claims at no additional cost to you. Given the catastrophic long-term cost of identity theft, it is a very small price to pay.
Protection for Your Digital Life
Online security is more than just protecting against identity theft. Many online attacks come in the form of malware – small bits of code inserted into your computer by a cyber-thief without your knowledge or consent. These so-called computer viruses can steal your information, track your keystrokes, learn your passwords or disable your system entirely. Similarly, mail scams, which come in a seemingly endless array of disguises, trick even savvy consumers into revealing sensitive information online.
Fortunately, the protection you need to keep your home computer safe is relatively inexpensive. Some Internet service providers include an anti-virus program with your subscription at no cost to you. However, the most effective options, which include real-time anti-virus and email protection as well as regular scanning of your computer for attacks, cost about $10 to $20 per month for a single computer and between $40 and $100 per month for multiple accounts. If you choose to purchase a firewall, the cost can easily go up by $1000 to $2000. However, if you have a modern computer running on a standard operating system such as Windows, Mac OS or Linux this is generally an unnecessary expense.
Obviously, keeping your home and your family safe from threats of all kinds is a challenge in today’s digital age. However, if you know your needs and plan accordingly, you can protect your home and your loved one’s for a very reasonable price.