DIY Home Security

Your Guide To Securing Your Home Yourself

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Ring vs. Nest Secure Doorbell


In our recent posts, we discussed both the Ring and Nest video doorbells. The former, which is owned by Amazon, and the latter, produced by Google, are two of the best doorbell security options on the market today. Just which one is the better of the two, though?

While the Ring and Nest secure doorbells both have their perks, it’s easier to install Ring, and their subscription plans are less expensive. The video doorbell itself also costs less. Nest’s video quality is better though, as is their motion sensing.

If you’re on the fence about whether to invest in the Ring or Nest video doorbells, this is the post for you. In it, we’ll pit these two products head-to-head, discussing where each measures up in terms of features, pricing, subscriptions, video quality, and security. You won’t want to miss it!

Features

When buying a video doorbell for your home, of course you want a wealth of features. These should be easy to use so you can teach even younger (or older) family members how to operate the video doorbell.

Here’s a closer look into both Ring and Nest’s multitude of features.

Ring

For the sake of this article, we’ll use the standard Ring video doorbell as our example, although more advanced versions do exist.

The Ring uses a rechargeable battery, but it can also run on doorbell wiring if you have this in your home. Compatible with such operating systems as Windows 10, Mac, Android, and iOS, Ring says on its website that it boasts a “simple installation and setup.”

The motion sensors are customizable, allowing you to choose when or if you get alerts for certain visitors. You can also customize the motion zones, maximizing what the Ring may pick up so you feel safer. With infrared night vision, even in dark conditions, you never have to wonder who may be prowling around your home.

All alerts you receive through Ring go to your smartphone via the free downloadable app. Upon picking up motion, Ring will send you alerts. You also have the freedom to use two-way talk to communicate with someone like a pizza delivery driver or a postman/woman. Noise cancellation with the two-way radio keeps the line clear to talk, and you can chat via your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Nest

Nest uses a transformer, a chime, and a wired doorbell for installation, whereas with Ring, the wired doorbell is optional. You’d otherwise have to use an Indoor Power Adapter if your home wasn’t already compatible with Nest. Google also suggests getting a professional to install the video doorbell, whereas with Ring, you can do it yourself. In fact, that’s something Amazon is especially proud of.

The HD Talk and Listen feature of the Nest allows you to get in touch with anyone on your doorstep at any time. If you don’t want to talk, Nest lets you pre-record messages and play them back to the visitor. When you do feel chatty, echo and noise cancelation prevent communications from becoming muddled.

Nest uses your Wi-Fi Internet to stay connected. If you always have an online connection, then the Nest never turns off. Person alerts tell you who’s lingering on your property, such as pickups or deliveries or even a stranger. Now you don’t have to panic at every alert you get. The alerted person doesn’t even have to ring the Nest doorbell for this feature to trigger, which is helpful.

Nest Aware lets you know the moment a package is dropped off or picked up at your door so you can get more done during the day instead of watching your phone. This feature also may reduce package theft, which unfortunately does happen a lot these days.

Besides the person alert, Nest also has sound and motion alerts. With continuous video recording, you won’t ever have to miss a moment of the action at home, even if you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away. The 24/7 streaming lets you check in whenever so you always have a finger on the pulse of what’s going on. Other features include quiet time and night vision.

Subscriptions

While both the Ring and Nest video doorbells are one-time purchases, should you want even more features and protections, you may opt for a subscription from either. Let’s talk more about the subscription services you can get.

Ring

Under a Basic subscription, you get such extra features as:

  • Snapshot Capture
  • Sharing and saving videos
  • A 60-day video history
  • Lifetime theft protection

The Plus is the only option that gives you everything, such as the above and:

  • com discounts good for up to 10 percent on select items
  • Extended warranties
  • Ring Alarm professional monitoring available 24/7

Nest

Nest has a subscription plan as well known as the Nest Aware, which seems to be updated for 2020.

You can choose from three different subscription plans. The first is priced at $50 a year or $5 per month. With this plan, you get such features as activity zones, time lapses and clips, intelligence alerts, 24/7 continuous monitoring, and a video history that goes back five days.

Should you upgrade to the secondary plan, this is $100 a year or $10 a month. You get the above features as well as a video history stretching 10 days. For the best Nest Aware plan at current, you’d pay $300 a year, which is $30 a month. All features from above are included, but you get the longest video history, as it’s good for a month.

Pricing

While subscriptions are optional, you will have to at least pay for the video doorbell itself if you’re interested in one. Cheaper isn’t always better, but you don’t want to break the bank on a secure doorbell, either.

That’s why we want to discuss the pricing for both the Ring and the Nest next.

Ring

As we talked about before, Ring has a series of video doorbells. The standard Ring is $99.99. If you wanted to upgrade to the Video Doorbell 2, it alone costs $199. You can also get this version of the video doorbell with a Schlage Encode Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt for $349.99 or the doorbell with a solar charger for $248.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro retails for $249, the Video Doorbell Elite $499, and the Peephole Cam $199.

Nest

There’s only one version of the Nest, and it’s $229. That makes it pricier than the basic Ring by about $129. The Nest even outprices the Ring Video Doorbell 2, the more advanced version of the Ring. You could pay for a solar charger with this video doorbell and you’re spending about as much as you would for just the Nest on its own.

Video Quality

Since you’ll rely on a video feed often to track who’s coming and going on your property with either of these secure doorbells, it’s crucial the video quality is high. Should you get stuck with footage that’s grainy or blurry, then you can’t really see who’s doing what.

Does Ring or Nest have the better video quality? Let’s answer that question now.

Ring

The standard Ring displays video in 720 HD quality, which they say is “crystal-clear.”

Nest

Nest shows you what’s going on at your property in HDR quality that shouldn’t degrade even if it’s dark or very bright. The 4:3 HD video lets you get a full view of a person so you may be able to identify them easier.

Security

Given that you’re investing in a secure doorbell, you expect it to keep you safe. Beyond just video feeds and real-time alerts and notifications, your video doorbell should have a range of security features designed for your safety.

Here are the security features both Ring and Nest offer.

Ring

Your video doorbell can only work if you have it, and Ring knows that. That’s why you get theft protection. Should someone steal your Ring off your property, you have 15 days to get in touch with the company and let them know. Ring will then send you another video doorbell free of charge.

As we talked about before, Ring lets you customize your motion zones to certain areas of your home that may be less secure, such as the sides of the house or even the backyard. The night vision will pick up on what you can’t see in the dark so your Ring is there when you need it most.

Nest

Google’s Nest is cloud-based. They also use a variety of encryptions and safety protocols, from two-step verification to AES 128-bit encryption. If you recall our articles about hacking into video doorbells, you’ll especially appreciate this extra layer of protection.

We also have to circle back around to the sensors included in the Nest. The person alerts use recognition tech to let you know if this is someone you may know or not. Sound alerts tip you off if there are strange sounds emanating from around your property, something you might not always hear if you have to mute your video feed at work. These alerts, when combined with the motion sensors, are quite secure.

Which Should You Get, the Ring or the Nest?

While both the Ring and Nest video doorbells are exemplary options for securing your home, depending on what kinds of things you care most about, you’ll certainly pick one doorbell over another.

If you want the best of the best in sensors and alerts, then as we just explained, those would come from Nest. It’s not that Ring doesn’t have great motion sensing, because it does. You can even customize your motion sensors, but Ring can’t detect people the way Nest can.

Do you want to save money on your video doorbell? Then you’ve got to get the Ring. The basic video doorbell is only $100. You’d have to buy the next advanced video doorbell and get a solar panel feature added to match the cost of the basic Nest. It’s true that Nest only sells one video doorbell rather than several, which means you’re not charged for extra features. However, for that one video doorbell, you do pay a lot.

Even if you wanted to get a subscription on your video doorbell, Nest is still costlier. The company’s subscription plan, Nest Aware, costs $300 a year for its top plan. Ring’s top plan for its subscription is only $100 a year, so you’re paying $200 more for Nest.

Conclusion

The Ring and Nest are two major secure doorbells. When pitted head-to-head, there are clear winners and losers. The Ring is the best value for your money, both for the basic doorbell itself and the Ring Protect add-on subscription plan.

Nest offers better video quality and sends person alerts based on whether someone may be a person you know or a stranger. You don’t get that from Ring.

With the info in this article, you’ll now be able to choose the best video doorbell for you. Best of luck!

Can a Nest Secure Doorbell Be Hacked?


Recently, we discussed whether the Ring video doorbell is hackable. While that piqued your interest, you’ve been thinking of getting a Nest instead. As a Google product, you may feel a little more confident in the security of your Nest video doorbell, but is that confidence misplaced? Do you really have to worry about hacking if you have a Nest?

Nest is certainly not hack-proof, as unscrupulous characters have broken into the video doorbell system many a time. In fact, the problem got so bad in 2019 that Google even emailed Nest owners and advised them to go through their security settings and upgrade them. Google also suggested a password change.

If you just bought a Nest, take a deep breath. Video doorbells are a common target for hackers, but it doesn’t mean you have to be the next victim. In this article, we’ll cover instances of Nest hacking as well as talk about how to avoid the same thing happening to you. Keep reading, as you’re not going to want to miss it.

Can a Nest Secure Doorbell Be Hacked?

First, let’s get into the meat of the matter, the hackability of the Nest video doorbell. Like almost any of the doorbell products on the market these days, yes, hackers can break into your Nest.

According to a 2019 article in The Washington Post, there are two reasons for that. The first is that new software for hacking into video doorbell systems is being created all the time. That makes it simple for anyone, even a person without a whole lot of technological savvy, to hack a Nest.

Further, Google has turned a semi-blind eye to the issue, and this has been done on purpose. If Google suddenly made the Nest as secure as Fort Knox, then this would have a twofold effect. For one, all preexisting customers would wonder why there are suddenly such tight security measures in place when none existed before. Also, potential new customers might be turned off by all the hoops they’d have to jump through just to use the Nest.

Considering the wealth of video doorbell competition on the market, Google’s would-be customers would easily find another security solution for their home while Google would lose out on money.

Instead, the company follows in the footsteps of a lot of other video doorbell manufacturers and takes reports of hacking on a case-by-case basis.

Instances of the Nest Doorbell Being Hacked

Video doorbell hackings, while they do happen, tend to be isolated incidents. A few here, then several months pass, and maybe a few more there. That’s not exactly what happened with the Google Nest in 2019. The video doorbell got hacked several times.

Let’s take a look at the hacking incident mentioned in The Washington Post article we linked you to in the last section. The article begins with a story about the Thomas family in California. The mother, Tara Thomas, said her daughter claimed to have a monster in her bedroom. While Tara initially dismissed her daughter’s concerns as nightmares, she soon discovered her daughter was correct.

Hackers had gotten into the Nest in the daughter’s bedroom and were talking to her and playing pornography. It was a vile hacking, but not the only one.

In a 2019 post from Security Sales & Integration, we get the tale of a Milwaukee-based woman named Samantha Westmoreland, who also owned a Nest. First, her thermostat began raising way high, like 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Then she heard inappropriate music from her Nest, which she realized had been hacked.

There’s also this article in the Chicago Tribune about Jessica and Arjun Sud and their young son. When they were tucking him into bed one night, the parents heard what sounded like a man talking to their son through their Nest. Not just talking, of course, but cursing and using vulgar slang. Like the other instances of Nest hacking, this also took place in 2019.

Why Was 2019 Such a Bad Year for the Google Nest and Hacking?

The problem was so extensive that, that same year, Google emailed all its Nest users with a warning to update their settings. This was reported in a piece on Popular Mechanics. Not only did Google ask its userbase to get new passwords, but to add two-factor authentication to their accounts if they didn’t already have it.

Now, you may wonder, with three high-profile incidents of hacking in one year, did Google have a serious problem on its collective hands? No, and that’s the surprising part.

There was no Nest breach. The reason the above hackings occurred was the same reason we wrote about in our article about the security break-ins of the Ring video doorbell. That is, a little hacking concept known as credential stuffing.

Never heard of credential stuffing? Here’s an overview.

If a website in which you’re a member is ever breached, then your login information could get leaked or sold into the hands of criminals. Once these bad characters have your username and password as well as the login info of thousands (sometimes millions) of your fellow consumers, they try applying the login information on other sites.

Most of the time, this doesn’t work, but then again, the hackers don’t know which sites you use. If they happen to get a login right though, then they can now gain access to your account, such as through Ring or Nest. This allows them to do all the horrible things the families above have experienced via hacking.

What Can You Do to Stay Safe from Hackers?

Alright, let’s say you believe your Nest video doorbell was hacked. The first thing you want to do is get in touch with Google. They’re probably going to tell you to update your password and your security features like in this forum post here, but at least the company is now aware of the issue.

Without a major breach, Google’s assistance will probably only go so far. That means it’s on you, the consumer, to be savvier in the future when it comes to avoiding hacking. Here are some great tips for getting started.

Keep Your Password to Yourself

Nest lets you add family members to the video doorbell, which grants them access to certain features, such as thermostat usage. You can include your family by their email addresses or even directly from your contacts list.

Either way, there’s no need for the entire family to know the login credentials for your Nest video doorbell. If you’re the main account holder, then keep your password a secret to everyone but yourself. Your spouse/partner and the kids can still use Nest without separate accounts, so why would they need to have your login info?

After all, the more people who are aware of your username and password, the greater the chance the information could get spread, even by accident. Then it’s just a matter of a hacker finding your login credentials and using them and voila, they’re in your Nest and can do whatever they want with it.

Avoid Reusing the Same Password

In a similar vein, please don’t keep repeating the same username and password from one website to another. According to computer security company Norton, in 2019, there were four billion recorded breaches, and that was only for half the year. Norton even says, “data breaches have run at a record pace in 2019.”

As consumers continue to rely on the Internet for more and more facets of their everyday lives, we can expect an upward trend in breaches. All it takes is one company you’re a member of to have a breach and then your information is out there.

If you use a different login for each website you’re a part of, then you can minimize the damage. Yes, your info got into the hands of hackers, maybe even sold to them, but they cannot use it for any other site because you change your logins from site to site.

Now imagine if you have the same login for each site. A hacker could theoretically get into your Nest, sure, but not only that. They could also gain access to your bank account and other personal details you do not want anyone else having.

We’ll admit it’s a pain to remember a dozen different passwords, but it beats the pain of having to rebuild your finances or even your life after a major hacking.

Always Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication used to be optional, but more sites and services are mandating you use it when registering. Also known as multi-factor authentication, this is a means of proving it’s really you in two or more different ways.

Since we talked about your bank account before, let’s use it as an example now. Each time you go to your bank’s ATM, you use two-factor authentication. First, you have to put your credit or debit card in. Then, you have to input your ATM password. Failing to do both correctly would get you shut out of your account, as you might be a fraudulent user.

Two-factor authentication doesn’t have to be scary or annoying. When a company uses it, it’s for your security and protection. Thus, you should turn it on automatically. Oh, and two-factor authentication is a great way to prevent credential stuffing, by the way, which can also keep your Nest video doorbell free of hackers.

Conclusion

The Nest secure doorbell, a Google product, had a really bad year in 2019. Many hackers broke into users’ cameras. Nest suffered no breach, but rather, attributed the problem to reused passwords and hackers engaging in credential stuffing.

By using different passwords on each site/service you sign up for, not sharing your login information, and always turning on two-factor authentication, you can keep dangerous hackers at bay. This applies not just to your Nest, but other areas of your life as well. Best of luck!

 

10 Effective DIY Home Security Projects You Can Set up in Under 30 Minutes


If you’re feeling a little bored, it may be worth it to take some time and reevaluate your current home security measures. There’s probably something more you can do, such as a handy little DIY project that won’t take more than 30 minutes of your time. What kind of projects can you spend your weekend on?

Here are 10 effective DIY home security projects you can do in 30 minutes or less:

  • Add window treatments
  • Reinforce your door locks
  • Change out your deadbolts
  • Install a pin lock for double-hung windows
  • Cut back your shrubbery
  • Place a few security signs on the lawn or in your window
  • Light up the place with floodlights
  • Get rid of your spare outdoor key
  • Make a dowel for sliding glass doors
  • Set up a security system

Yes, that’s right. If you have 30 minutes tonight or this weekend, you can make your home a safer and more secure place to be. Keep reading for more information on each of the above 10 projects so you can begin planning which you’ll do first!

10 Quick, Easy DIY Home Security Projects to Tackle This Weekend

Add Window Treatments

Your first option for a fast DIY home security project is to put up window treatments on some or all the windows in your home.

A window treatment is a blanket term for any window modification. It could be as simple as hanging up a pair of thick curtains that don’t let anyone outside of your home see in. You could install some blinds or–if your budget is bigger–buy plantation shutters.

If you want an even speedier window treatment, we’d recommend mirrored film on the windows as well as your glass doors.

A mirrored film is a giant sticker that you cut to fit your window. When you adhere the film, it becomes difficult for criminals to see into your home from the outside. We’ve written about mirrored film recently, but if you missed that post, we’re again suggesting this product, as it’s quite handy. Not only is mirrored film low-budget, but it’s quick to secure to your window. Just make sure you remove all the air bubbles using a squeegee or even a credit card.

Reinforce Your Door Locks

If you can’t remember the last time you’ve replaced your door locks, now is as good a time as ever to do so. Locks with key-in-lock handles are especially good for your sense of security.

Also, thanks to modern technology, you can outfit your home with a smart lock such as the August Smart Lock for keyless entry.

Don’t stop there. Even if your doorknob is as secure as Fort Knox, if you have a weak door, then that’s still an easy point of entry for a burglar. If your door feels hollow and light, it’s more than time to get a new one. Invest in a thicker, heavier door that’s more impenetrable, such as one made of metal or solid–not hollow–wood.

Change out Your Deadbolt

In addition to your door, you have a deadbolt and maybe a chain lock. The problem with chain locks is if they’re old and flimsy, they can easily be snapped. Older deadbolts are also easily surpassed if a criminal is savvy enough.

The best deadbolts are grade-one, as these are strong locks that criminals will be quickly confounded by.

You might also want to buy a line door strike with screws that go into the doorframe. In the event a burglar was trying to gain forceable entry into your home, the line door strike would make it difficult to do so.

Line door strikes such as the Defender Security U are a great pick. This stamped steel strike has a finish of satin nickel so it’s as durable as it is appealing. No longer do you have to rely on your standard door latch, but this deadbolt strike plate instead. Its one-piece design has three-inch screws, six in all, that enhance security even further since the screws hold in tight.

To install the Defender Security U and other door strikes like it, you place the strike on the doorframe and jamb. Then, with a screwdriver, tighten each of the six screws. If you want to do flush installation, you may have to drill a few pilot holes, but even this isn’t time-consuming nor difficult.

Install a Pin Lock for Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows are undeniably beautiful. Each of these two-paned windows has sashes that allow you to open a window one at a time or together. When the time comes to clean your top sash, it’s a lot easier to do this with a double-hung window than a single-hung one.

Still, as great as they are, double-hung windows can pose a huge security risk, as the criminal has two ways to get in per window. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, it should. Luckily, the problem is easily rectifiable with less than 30 minutes of your time and a bit of money, like $5 or so.

Pin locks are specialty locks for double-hung windows. They stop your double-hung windows from opening past a certain point, making it impossible for someone to bust into your home. You can shop for pin locks on Amazon, finding one that fits your window brand.

To install your pin locks, open both panes of the double-hung window where you want them. Then, make a marking where the pin lock will go. Drill a hole through the frame and the window itself (not the glass pane though!).

Next, take your pin lock’s included cover ring and put it over the hole you drilled. Fit the pin in and tighten it as necessary.

Cut Back Shrubbery

You may wonder what landscaping has to do with home security, and the answer is, a lot! If you have overgrown bushes in front of and especially behind your property, you’re giving criminals a great spot to hunker down and hide out while they create their plan of attack to get into your house.

When you strip back your shrubs so they’re close-cropped and neat, now criminals have nowhere to go but in, and doing so will make them quite obvious.

Place Security Signs on the Premises

We’ve written about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s such a quick, no-brainer, inexpensive home security trick. Security signs that say “beware of dog” or mention that you have a security camera installed on the premises can be enough to send most smart criminals packing.

Remember, when a criminal wants to break into your home, they choose it because it seems like an easy target. Any evidence that belies that fact will make the criminal second-guess themselves. These types of signs show the burglar that your home is well protected. You don’t even necessarily need a big, scary dog. The sign alone can be enough of a deterrent.

Illuminate Your Property with Floodlights

Another break-in prevention method that will give you more peace of mind is the installation of floodlights. The high-intensity illumination of a floodlight, as well as its expansive range, means you can cover most of your property in a few of these lights. That makes them quite a cost-effective addition to your arsenal of home security products.

If you can, buy motion-detection floodlights, as these will turn on if anyone or anything gets too close to your property.

No burglar is going to risk being illuminated by a bright floodlight if they try to break into your home. They’ll choose an easier target and leave you alone!

To ensure your floodlights last you for years to come, get weatherproof boxes. Also, check that you have the proper conduit for the lights.

Remove Your Spare Key Outside

It’s happened to all of us at some point. You rush out in a hurry that morning because you’re running late, and you leave your house key in the entryway or on your dresser. When you want to get back into the house later, having a spare key hidden outdoors is useful.

Chances are, your key is beneath a welcome mat or even shallowly buried in your mulch on the front lawn. If you’ve thought to leave your key somewhere, then burglars have thought to look. Having access to a house key saves the burglar so much time. They don’t have to break through your door or smash a window. They can simply unlock your door and waltz right in.

Even the spare key holders that look like rocks or other outdoor objects may not be a good idea, as a smart burglar will know to seek these out.

You’re much better off letting your neighbor hold onto your spare key and you theirs so you always have a way to get inside your home but without leaving a house key out in the open for anyone to find.

Make a Dowel to Reinforce Sliding Glass Doors

Does your home have sliding glass doors? We’ve written about these before. While sliding glass doors do offer stunning views of your side yard or backyard and they’re great for letting natural light in, they’re also a prime target for criminals.

The burglar can break a hole in the glass, reach through and unlock the door, and then step right in with no resistance. Yes, that’s a horrifying thought, but in a couple of minutes this weekend, you can easily prevent such a break-in.

All you need is some sort of dowel, be it a long piece of wood, a pole, or even a metal rod. It should fit snugly between the sliding glass door panels. Now, if a burglar tries to open the sliding glass doors, the doors won’t budge, as the dowel prevents them from moving much.

While you’re at it, make sure you get a better lock than the one that comes with most standard sliding glass doors. You’ll feel safer for it.

Set up a Security System

Whether you opt for a smart lock, a video doorbell like the Ring or Nest, any of the security systems we’ve discussed on this blog, or some combination of the above, the best part about today’s home security systems is they set up quickly and easily.

Most don’t require drilling, and even for those that do, you only need to make a hole or two. With your Internet connection, you can quickly get your smart security system set up on the Wi-Fi so it can begin protecting you and your home instantly.

Conclusion

Home security doesn’t have to be a time-consuming venture. The 10 DIY projects we highlighted in this article all take 30 minutes or less to complete. Some are quick and inexpensive, like using window film, while others require a slightly larger budget, such as upgrading your door locks or buying floodlights.

All will let you sleep better at night knowing your home is the safest and the securest on the block.

5 Ways to Secure Your Sliding Door Like Fort Knox


Sliding doors sure are beautiful, but are they the safest thing for your home? If your doors are made of glass especially, a robber needs only a tool like a wrench or a hammer to smash the door and walk right into your home. You’d hate to get rid of your sliding doors entirely. Is there anything you can do to make them safer?

We recommend the following five methods for securer, safer sliding doors:

  • Use a dowel or broomstick in addition to the lock
  • Upgrade to reinforced glass
  • Try self-tapping screws on the upper door track
  • Invest in a security alarm system
  • Get better locks

In this article, we’ll expand on each of these five methods for keeping criminals away from your sliding door. You’ll feel much more confident that all areas of your home are blockaded so no one can easily get in.

5 Awesome Ideas for a More Secure Sliding Door

Get a Dowel or Broomstick to Block the Track

Are you on a budget? The first solution we have for a secure sliding door is one of the easiest and most inexpensive.

All you need is a long piece of wood or metal. You can use a wooden dowel, an old broomstick, or metal pipe you have from an as-yet-unfinished home repair project. If you do go the broomstick route, make sure it’s a wooden stick and not one made of plastic.

Any blockade should be reasonably thick and quite durable. You also want the blockade to fit along at least one panel of your sliding door snugly. The dowel or pole doesn’t have to sit straight across, as it can lean at an angle.

Here’s how you use your blockade. When your sliding door is closed, slip the dowel or pole into place. Should someone try to open the sliding doors, such as a burglar, the one door panel will collide with the dowel sitting across the track of the second panel. The door will budge maybe ever so slightly, but it certainly won’t open.

All the commotion at your door will surely alert you to the signs of trouble. You can then call the police. Make sure you use your sliding door locks on top of the dowel or pole. The blockade is just a failsafe if the burglar undoes your lock somehow. Even if they smashed your glass sliding doors, unless they could reach the dowel or pole to dislodge it, then they still can’t get in.

Strengthen Glass Sliding Doors

Of course, you don’t want to have to think about anyone or anything shattering your glass sliding doors. Not only would that pose a major risk to your safety, but it would be such a huge home addition to have to replace.

If the glass of your sliding doors makes you nervous because it seems so easily destructible, you can do more than simply hope the worst doesn’t happen. You can also strengthen and reinforce the glass.

Nope, this doesn’t necessarily mean a glass replacement outright. You have plenty of DIY options you can try that work just as well as new glass panels. One of our favorites is security film, especially the mirrored kind.

This is still semi-transparent, so you get plenty of natural sunlight from your sliding doors. However, it’s much harder for outsiders to see in your home. That alone will make you feel safer.

Mirrored film allows you to see outside during the day while someone standing outside cannot glimpse in. At night though, it’s a little easier to see through the film from the outside. That’s because the mirrored film has reflective properties that work best when in bright light like the sun. If you’re worried about nighttime safety, get some blinds for your sliding glass doors if you don’t have these already and pull them closed when it gets dark.

One perk to using mirrored film is that it’s fairly inexpensive. A roll of the stuff costs $10 to $30, and a single roll should be enough to cover your sliding glass doors. You can find mirrored film at most home improvement stores and online.

To apply mirrored film, you want to measure the length and width of your sliding doors. Clean the inside of the doors, wiping away fingerprints, smudges, and other messes on the glass. These will stick under the mirrored film and be very noticeable. You won’t be able to clean the glass at that time unless you take the film off, which we don’t advise. Well, unless you don’t want to use it again.

In your garage or in a large room of your home, place the mirrored film on the floor, roll it out fully, and make markings so you know where to cut. Household scissors should be able to slice through the mirrored film, although it helps if you have especially pointy scissors. Trim one-eighth of an inch extra on any side to make it easier to push out air bubbles.

Spritz the glass with a combination of water and dish soap in a spray bottle, but don’t wipe it down. Water will allow for better adhesion of the film to the glass. Press down firmly yet gently and then remove any air bubbles using a squeegee.

Use Self-Tapping Screws on the Upper Door Track

We’ve discussed security solutions for the bottom track of your sliding doors as well as the door panels themselves. This next trick is for the upper door track. You’ll want to attach self-tapping screws using a drill.

What are self-tapping screws? Sometimes also referred to as tapping screws, when you screw these in with a screwdriver or drill, the screw will bore a hole in. The mating threads fit securely thanks to the friction created by this hole. If you need to disassemble the parts around the screw, you can do so more easily with a self-tapping screw. They also prevent loosening caused by natural vibrations.

Self-tapping screws can be self-piercing or self-drilling. A self-piercing screw goes in at an angle, such as 25 or 30 degrees. A self-drilling screw has a sharpened edge so it can penetrate even harder, heavier materials.

By adding a series of self-tapping screws along the top track of your sliding doors, the doors can no longer move off the frame. This is sometimes a tactic that burly burglars might use to try to break into your home. It’s certainly quieter than smashing the glass, but it will no longer work with self-tapping screws.

Do take time and care in where you place the screws on the top track. If the door can’t slide all the way open or closed, then take the screws out and try again. You need to be able to use your sliding doors too, after all!

Buy a Security Alarm System

Okay, so this next tactic doesn’t really involve your sliding doors specifically, but it’s a good idea nonetheless.

Your whole home will feel safer with a security alarm system. We wrote a great post on our blog for the top DIY home security systems for the year. Some of them were front-door doorbell cameras and alarms, which doesn’t really work for a rear sliding door. The others are totally viable picks.

Here’s a recap of some of your options from that article.

  • KERUI Home Security System: This first security solution from KERUI includes a slew of must-have tools and accessories. These are motion sensors, a smart app control host, a live sound host, a Wi-Fi camera, a door contact sensor, and a doorbell button. The motion sensors extend 26 feet and will make a loud sound if tripped.
  • PANNOVO Wireless Home Security Alarm System: PANNOVO’s alarm system was another winner on our list. You get eight sensors, with six intended for doors. A PIR motion sensor, SOS alarm button, and remote control are also included with the purchase of this great system. The alarm, when sounded, rings out at a very, very loud 120 decibels.
  • SimpliSafe 12-Piece Wireless Home Security System: You can order a kit as involved as 12 pieces if you choose SimpliSafe’s home security system DIY set. Some of the parts included in your order are a 95-decibel siren, a keypad, four entry sensors, a motion sensor, and even customizable sensors.
  • SENS8 Home Security Camera System: You also can’t go wrong with SENS8’s security system. It has a camera for catching motion, yet it won’t scare you with false alarms when the wind blows thanks to updated algorithms. The sensors include a sound sensor, a humidity sensor, and a temperature sensor.
  • LarmTek Smart Wi-Fi Alarm System: We also have to talk about LarmTek’s home security solution. It includes an alarm host, motion sensor, and IP camera. Driven by Wi-Fi, you can access all the security features included using your smartphone. How handy is that?

Upgrade the Locks 

For greater peace of mind, especially at night, it might also be a good idea to consider upgrading your sliding door locks. If your sliding doors are like most, they have a little latch that you either move up or down to lock and unlock the door. This is decently secure, but you could have so much better.

Today’s sliding door locks can require you to use a key or type in a code on a keypad. You’ll still have the large handle that makes opening and closing your sliding door so easy, but with the kinds of advanced security features you’d expect in 2020.

Conclusion

If you want a sliding door like Fort Knox, the five suggestions in this article will help you get there. You can try one or even all five of these methods for the most impenetrable sliding doors ever. Even if your doors are glass, it will be really hard if not impossible for criminals to get in now!

Do I Need to Pay a Monthly Subscription Fee for a Ring Doorbell?


Ring Doorbell Subscription

If you were to buy a Ring doorbell, would you be hit with yet more recurring charges or could you avoid them? This is a popular question in today’s world, we pay for a lot of monthly subscriptions. If you use a video streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+, you’re charged for these each month. The same if true if you’re a member of a gym or if you subscribe to a monthly mystery box/crate service. You don’t want to add another monthly fee on top of all these others, do you?

It’s not necessary to pay for a Ring doorbell subscription, as you can still use the full range of services offered by Ring without it, That said, if you do choose to pay, then you gain access to Ring Protect, a service that gives you more monitoring and video saving options.

If you’re curious to learn more about Ring Protect, including how it works and what you’d pay for it each month, keep reading. In this article, we’ll walk you through the Ring doorbell’s subscription service so you can decide whether it’s worth it.

What Is Ring Protect?

When you buy the Ring video doorbell itself, you get the peace of mind of knowing who is at your property at all times. You download an app that feeds you live video of the interior or exterior (even both!) of your home depending on where you put the camera(s).

While Ring’s features are very comprehensive, the company offers an extra layer of coverage in their Ring Protect plan. This is a monthly subscription service that allows you to take advantage of features you do not get otherwise.

For instance, Ring does professional monitoring around the clock under Ring Protect. It’s available 24/7 and can be especially handy if you need support during or after an emergency. According to the Ring Protect webpage (which we linked you to above), the call response time is 30 seconds on average for a subscriber. Also, Ring provides coverage in 50 states under its Ring Protect plan.

You also get the freedom to review in more depth the photos and videos the Ring video doorbell takes when you join Ring Protect. Should you want to keep these, you can, but you can also send them to the trash.

Which Subscription Options Are Offered Under Ring Protect?

Should you opt to subscribe to Ring Protect, there’s not just one plan to choose from. Instead, you have two options, the Basic or Plus plans.

Here’s a breakdown of the features included in both plans.

Basic Plan

The Basic Plan has a handful of features, such as:

  • Snapshot Capture: With Snapshot Capture, Ring will automatically take a series of continuous photos of what’s going on around your property. These aren’t necessarily used in lieu of video, but rather, can augment video in that you might be able to see some details more clearly in still photos.
  • Video sharing and saving: Should you decide there’s a video you’d like to hold onto, the Basic plan lets you save the clip. It’s yours to keep on your computer, phone, tablet, or other mobile device. If you’d then like to share the video via text message, email, or even social media, you can.
  • 60-day video history: Even if Ring captured a photo or video more than a month ago, you can still access it as a Ring Protect member. It doesn’t get auto-deleted for 60 days.
  • Lifetime protection: Under Ring’s lifetime protection feature, you have 15 days to report a stolen Ring video doorbell and get a replacement at no cost to you.
  • Two-way talk: Using the two-way talk feature, you can have communication with the other person on your property should you want to.
  • Live View real-time video: With the Ring app downloaded to your phone, Live View lets you see who’s on your property in real time.
  • Motion-activated notifications: Ring sends notifications straight to your smartphone if the video doorbell suspects someone might be around your property.

Plus Plan

By upgrading to the Plus Plan, you get all the above features as well as these other exclusives:

  • com product discount: Since you’re paying extra for a Plus Plan, when you’re logged into Ring’s website, you can get certain products at a discounted rate of 10 percent.
  • Extended device warranties: If your Ring video doorbell is registered under a single address, you can request for a lengthier warranty than the traditional one offered by Ring now that you’re a Plus member.
  • Ring Alarm 24/7 monitoring: This is the monitoring feature we described in the section above.

Regarding the discount, Ring says it only begins once your free trial ends. You also cannot have any other users or neighbors using a free trial of Ring Protect to get your 10 percent off. You can’t transfer the discount either, nor can you use it with other offers or for past purchases.

How Much Does Ring Protect Cost?

For these added features, what kind of monthly subscription fee are you looking at with Ring Protect? For the Basic Plan, which has far fewer features, you’d pay $3 a month. That’s $30 a year. If you wanted the best of the best from Ring Protect, aka the Plus Plan, that would cost you $10 a month or $100 a year.

Those are pretty low prices. You pay more for Netflix and Disney+ than you would for the Basic version of Ring Protect, at least as of this writing.

If you’re still on the fence, Ring does allow its customers to try Ring Protect free for 30 days as a trial. You might as well subscribe for a free month and see how you like either of the plans. Just make sure you cancel before the month ends or you may be auto-charged for the next month.

Should you decide you don’t enjoy the features of Ring Protect, then it was no harm, no foul. If your interest is piqued, then you can choose a plan that works for you and begin paying for it every month.

What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Monthly Subscription Fee for Your Ring Doorbell?

Let’s say you explored the Basic and Plus plans under Ring Protect after reading this article. You may have even tried the free trial. You’re not entirely convinced you need a monthly Ring Protect subscription, so you were thinking of passing on the whole thing.

If that’s what you wanted to do, what would happen?

Honestly? Nothing. You already paid for your Ring video doorbell, which only has a one-time fee. That doorbell is yours to use however often you want. You still get lots of great safety features that make the Ring video doorbell worthwhile, but you won’t have the extra perks available through a Ring Protect plan.

There are certain features that even “free” Ring doorbell users get. These are:

  • Lifetime theft protection
  • Two-way talking
  • Live View real-time video
  • Motion-activated notifications

If that’s enough for you, then so be it, you’re good to go. There’s no need to worry about monthly fees with your Ring. That said, if you’d like to expand what Ring can do for you, then the Ring Protect plan is a good place to start.

Is There Any Other Way to Get the Features of Ring Protect Without Paying Monthly?

What if you want all the protection Ring offers but without the monthly fees? Is there any way to make that happen?

No, there isn’t. The only way you can try Ring Protect without paying for it is to sign up for the free 30-day trial. Still, that’s only good for a month, and once that month elapses, it’s expected you’ll start paying for the protection or forego it entirely. There’s no workaround there.

We wouldn’t recommend you hacking into your Ring. We just wrote a post on the dangers and risks of that, of which there are many. Plus, there’s your warranty to worry about.

Ring’s warranty is a limited one that lasts for a year, with that year beginning the day you buy the video doorbell. It covers the replacement of parts due to poor workmanship or defects. That’s it. You couldn’t tinker with your Ring to try and hack it and then claim foul, trying to use your warranty. Ring won’t accept it.

Conclusion

Ring’s doorbell has a one-time fee, but for a monthly charge, you can upgrade to Ring Protect. This offers more features that you don’t get with your Ring doorbell, such as the ability to save your videos for up to 60 days and emergency assistance.

Ring Protect has two plans: the Basic Plan for $3 a month and the Plus Plan for $10 a month. While you can try either for free for 30 days, there’s no way to enjoy continuous use of Ring Protect without paying for the subscription.

With all this info, you can now decide whether Ring Protect is right for you. Best of luck!

Can a Ring Video Doorbell Be Hacked?


Ring Doorbell HackIn a recent blog post, we introduced the Ring video doorbell. This is a home security solution that lets you see what’s going on outside and inside your property via an app and a video feed through the device itself. Should you consider this option for your own home, you may have questions about how hack-proof Ring is. Could someone hack it?

Yes, the Ring video doorbell can be hacked, and it has happened. Sometime in 2019, the company suffered a bad case of credential stuffing, a type of hacking. This may have affected thousands of Ring users.

In this article, we’ll provide a deep dive into how Ring was hacked in 2019 and what the implications of this are. We’ll also discuss how to tell if your Ring is hacked and share some methods to ensure that your Ring video doorbell is HACK-PROOF. Keep reading!

How Has the Ring Video Doorbell Been Hacked?

In December 2019, Consumer Reports published an article about a hacking incident affecting Ring video doorbell users. While according to representatives at Ring, what transpired wasn’t an “unauthorized intrusion or compromise of Ring’s system or network,” it’d still be considered a hacking.

The type of hack that occurred is known as credential stuffing. With this cyberattack, a hacker harvests breached information and attempts to apply it elsewhere. For instance, if another company besides Ring had been hacked prior, usernames and passwords would be illegally obtained. The credential stuffers would then take these usernames and passwords and try to get into Ring accounts with them.

It may sound like an unsuccessful venture, but it works more often than you might think. Lots of people don’t bother to change their usernames nor their passwords from one account to another. Therefore, if a hacker gets into one, they could very well theoretically get into another and more still.

The Ring hack was quite substantial, as the company reached out to about 3,000 users and requested they update their passwords. Also, for the first time, Ring asked its customers to implement two-factor authentication.

If you’re not familiar with this, two-factor authentication is a means of further protecting your sensitive login information. Now, instead of providing just a password, you might input a code the company sends you through email or text. It proves it’s really you using the service.

Ring’s staff clearly recognized the oversight in failing to mandate two-factor authentication prior to the hack. After all, should a hacker get into your Ring video doorbell, they could glean a lot of personal information about you. They’d know your time zone, your address, and your phone number. Even worse, they could potentially be able to tap into your Ring video feeds through the app, controlling which footage is kept and which is removed. They could also do anything they wanted with said footage, such as post it online, destroying someone’s sense of privacy. These hackers can even talk to you through Ring, which is horrifying.

How Do You Know If Your Ring Video Doorbell Is Hacked?

If you were involved in the latest breach, then Ring should have personally contacted you, likely via email. In their message would be the request to change your password and turn on two-factor authentication.

Even if you were safe from that hacking, that doesn’t mean there won’t be others. In fact, savvy hackers can break into the Ring video doorbell on a much smaller scale anytime. Take, for instance, the story of a man in Miami whose Ring was hacked by his ex-boyfriend as reported in Gizmodo in 2018. This man updated his password (more than once) and yet still was stalked in his own home.

While the exploit that allowed this to happen was fixed sometime later in 2018, it’s still a chilling example of what can take place when unscrupulous characters get into your Ring account. So too is this story from Popular Mechanics about an older man accessing the feed of a young girl’s bedroom through Ring and saying creepy things to her. That article was published in December 2019 as well, so it may have been part of the latest breach.

If you suspect you may be a victim of Ring hacking, how would you know? There are a few ways the video doorbell tells you, so keep an eye out for the following:

  • The light on your Ring turns blue and begins blinking
  • The security camera may get a data flow you don’t recognize
  • Your camera rotates uncontrollably
  • The camera may also make noise when it didn’t used to

If you set up your Ring to record video footage, then it’s possible you can catch hackers that way. That was the case with the family who got hacked by the creepy man. Of course, you can’t tell who someone is by their voice alone unless you happen to recognize their voice, but having video footage at the very least proves something unsavory is going on. Whether the other party could be identified and penalized remains to be seen.

How to Prevent Hackers from Getting into Your Ring Video Doorbell

In today’s technologically connected age, it’s normal to worry about being hacked. Usually, this worry is centered around our smartphones or laptops, but now we have the Ring video doorbell to add to that list of hackable devices as well.

You don’t have to let hackers win. By making smart decisions and cleaning up behavior that could invite hackers in, you can keep your Ring video doorbell safe. Here’s how.

Keep Your Passwords to Yourself

You can add extra users to your Ring account, but that doesn’t mean they all have to know your password. Instead, see if you can set up the rest of your family as shared users. The fewer people who are aware of your password, the harder it is for it to potentially get into the wrong hands.

Create a Password That’s Hard to Hack

Is your password the name of a beloved pet or maybe your hometown? You could even use your mother’s name or the street on which you grew up. You probably have some numbers in front of or after the word, right? They may be something like 1-2-3 or even 4-5-6.

Any predictable patterns in your password are exploitable. That includes ascending or descending numbers and well-known names or words. You may have chosen a somewhat easy password for your own benefit, mostly so you can remember it. After all, it’s always a pain to have to reset your password if you didn’t want to.

The problem with easy passwords is that if they’re simple for you to remember, then they’re simple for someone else to figure out. We recommend using a password generator service such as LastPass to have a random password generated for you. You can determine how many characters you want the password to be, whether it uses all characters, how easy it is to say and read, and whether it has symbols, numbers, lowercase, and uppercase letters.

Each password LastPass generates is unique, so you’ll never get the same one twice. Yes, if you play around with a lot of numbers and symbols, you’re going to get a password that’s impossible to remember. It also becomes a lot harder to hack.

We suggest making a note of your password somewhere so you can always keep track of it, even if it is more complex.

Use a Unique Password

Do you use the same password for your email as you do for your bank account, your social media, and your Ring? If so, you’re like most people, who prefer the convenience.

The problem with repeating passwords like this is that you’re the prefect target for hackers. Enough people reuse passwords that credential stuffing has become a thing, but you can break the cycle.

Change your Ring password so it’s not the same as all your other passwords. When you have time, why not go back and change those other repeat passwords as well? You’ll be glad you did.

Never Skip Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication exists for your security. If you have the option to do it when signing up for a new account, please, take advantage of it. That includes more than just Ring, but any new service you join. It makes your account that much more secure, and who doesn’t want that?

What Should You Do if Your Ring Video Doorbell Is Hacked?

You’re fairly certain your Ring video doorbell has been hacked. How do you handle such a situation?

Before anything else, you want to change your password. This will hopefully keep the hacker from getting back into your Ring account. You may also want to turn off your Ring so it’s no longer projecting a feed onto your property, and especially into your house. This gives the hacker nothing to see. Remember though, you have to update your password first, or else the hacker will get right back in and turn the feed on again.

Next, we recommend you get in touch with a Ring customer service representative and perhaps even Amazon, which owns Ring. Tell them you’ve been hacked and ask what they recommend. They might not suggest anything beyond changing your password and activating two-factor authentication, especially if this is a singular incident and not a larger breach. Still, follow their instructions if you haven’t already instituted those measures yourself.

You may never find who was hacking you, but what’s most important is stopping the situation in its tracks before things get potentially dangerous.

Conclusion

Ring is a video doorbell that’s proven to be hackable. In December 2019, Ring was the victim of credential stuffing. This is where hackers take information obtained from a previous breach, like usernames and passwords, and use them to log into Ring.

To prevent yourself from being involved in the next Ring hack, don’t share your password with many people. Also, reset your password to a more complicated one that’s not so easy to guess, and make sure this password is unique. Further, when given the opportunity, always use two-factor authentication. Best of luck and stay safe!