Keeping your home safe at Christmas
The festive season is the busiest time of the year for elves and reindeers, but also for thieves.
We’ve talked to experts in security and asked them for their top tips to help you keep your home and valuables safe this holiday.
1 – Making your house less attractive to thieves
‘Consider using external dusk till dawn lights and other visual deterrents including alarms and CCTV cameras (as burglars don’t want to be seen),’ says Steffan George, Director of Business Development at the Master Locksmiths Association ’If you are staying away from your property, make it look like the house is still occupied with lights on timers and a fake TV upstairs. These can act as good deterrents. I would highly recommend adding professionally installed high quality locks to doors and windows and consider securing your outbuildings with tools safely stored away.’
2 – Protecting your valuables
‘Never leave valuables in sight as it acts an as advertisement to potential thieves. Also consider getting a safe professionally specified and installed,’ George. ‘Make sure all doors and windows are locked, even when the house is occupied. Keep your keys in a safe place and ensure they are never left in the locks or kept within reach of the letter box.’
3 - Keeping your presents safe
‘Expensive presents on show under the tree are a welcoming invitation for burglars so try keeping presents out of sight,’ explains the Met police and ‘don’t leave any gift packaging outside your home advertising any new and expensive items inside.’
4 – Being mindful on social media
‘I would avoid publicising your travel plans on social media, in particular if you are going away for Christmas,’ says George, as most people have their social networks public such as Instagram or Twitter.
5 – Protecting your phone from data thieves
Smartphones are always a popular gift, here’s how to keep your phone safe from hackers, malware and thieves.
Andrei Petrus, Product Manager of Avira Antivirus Security for Android, shared his expertise. According to him, an essential all-round security safety net for mobile devices looks like this:
‘An antivirus protection to stay ashore and safe from the plethora of threats that exist on the mobile realm: malware that might spy on you, steal personal information, send SMS to premium numbers, render your phone unusable.’ You will also need ‘a web protection to make sure you don't fall prey to phishing attacks or dodgy practices that cyber crooks adopt in order to steal information you'd usually exchange only with trusted websites, such as banks.’ And finally ’the possibility to lock certain apps behind an additional layer of protection. You might hand your phone to friends and colleagues sometimes when they want to make a call, but make sure that your messages / photos / browser history are inaccessible to them.’
6 – Keeping your personal information safe
If someone steals your phone, ‘you’ll first want to access the web dashboard from your security solution provider, push a recovery alert on the device and try to identify its location on a map,’ says Petrus. ‘It might be that you forgot it somewhere and whomever found it will read the message and call you back to return it.’
‘If you’re not that lucky and nobody calls you to hand back the phone but you see it moving on the map, proceed with a Remote Wipe command. It's important that your private information is immediately erased from a phone that's not your property anymore. Once you’re certain you have been the victim of a theft, report the incident at the police station. In some countries, the serial number (IMEI) of the reported device gets banned and renders it unusable in cellular networks,’ he explains.
According to him ’it’s very important to use the Remote Wipe option so that the thief doesn’t get access to the private information stored on your phone. While recovering the device might become a duty of the police, you have to make sure you protect your personal data even when your phone is no longer in your possession’.