(571) 888-3230

From Our Lock Experts: How to Organize Combinations and Passwords

From Our Lock Experts: How to Organize Combinations and Passwords

multiple passwords online

Living in the 21st century means everything is online. And with the increase of information (especially of the personal nature) going onto the Web, there must be an increase in security on your end. Restricting access to your personal information and profiles is key to protecting your identity on the Internet, and keeps not only you, but the people around you, safe.

Don't Take the Easy Way Out

It would seem that the simplest thing to do would be to use the same password (or slight variations of the same password) for all of your accounts, eliminating the need to organize and remember passwords entirely. This sounds like the perfect solution on paper, however, it actually poses a greater risk to your safety than you would think. If a hacker were to get a hold of just one of your passwords or combinations, they would have an immense head start to figuring out every other one. Choosing unique and hard-to-crack passwords  for each account or profile is the first step to protecting yourself online

That being said, now we have a new issue: how do I remember all of these different passwords?

Organizing and remembering tens, even hundreds of passwords can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your accounts, documents, and information secure.

building code website

Write It Down

The beauty of this solution is that, at the end of the day, you don’t actually have to remember any of your passwords. All you have to do is write them down and keep them organized and in one place. There are several ways to do this:

1: Use a spreadsheet. Digital spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, allow for greater organization when it comes to storing multiple pieces of data. Setting up a file in one of these programs will also make it easier for you to access that information when needed, since it all lives in one place.

2: Buy a journal or planner. If writing down your passwords on your computer still seems too vulnerable for you, organize the old fashioned way! Any old notebook, journal, or spiral will do, or you can purchase a planner that is specially designed to store passwords and organize that kind of information.

3: Keep a note on your phone. Nowadays, it’s very rare that we are at our computers without having our cell phones somewhere in the vicinity. This means that adding all of your passwords and combinations into a dedicated note on your cell phone can be a fairly useful way to keep track of this information.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Circuit Board

Use A Password Organizer

If none of these solutions fit your needs, consider using a password manager. Password managers are browser extensions or digital programs that store passwords for you. These extensions, in addition to organizing and keeping your information, also protect them with their own password security lock. That means you only need to remember one password, which makes your life that much easier! Here are a few examples of these extensions:

  • LastPass: LastPass is a password manager that encrypts and stores all of your logins in a ‘vault’. It has a web interface, as well as various plugins (including a browser extension) and a mobile app. They offer a paid plan as well as upgraded versions.
  • Bitwarden: Bitwarden is a free, open-source password manager. It’s offering is practically the same as LastPass, with the inclusion of a command-line interface, or CLI. Bitwarden can also be hosted on any platform you choose.
  • RoboForm: RoboForm is a bit different from LastPass and Bitwarden because it has a very sophisticated, highly customizable password creation feature. It’s also free with no cloud backup necessary!

Conclusion

All of this being said, organizing your passwords and logins does not have to be stressful. Whether you choose to go with a password journal, spreadsheet, or online password management extension, your friendly neighborhood Pop-A-Lock wants to ensure your safety, even if it’s not a job for a locksmith!

Lock Bumping and How to Prevent It

Lock Bumping and How to Prevent It

unlock with key

After locking up, most of us feel certain our possessions — and our families — are safe behind guarded doors. We think that, in the unlikely event of our home becoming a target for burglars, the only way inside would be through kicking in a door or window. But only 35% of home invasions show signs of forced entry. How are they getting in? It’s not because they’re criminal masterminds: since 2002, lock bumping has become a popular technique used by burglars to bypass the most commonplace door locks. Read up on this method, and what you can do to prevent lock bumping.

What is lock bumping?

Put simply, lock bumping is when a bump key is used to align the pins in a common cylinder lock. From here, a small amount of pressure is applied on the key, effectively “bumping” it and causing the plug to slide open. Once a way for locksmiths to safely disassemble locks, this knowledge has since made its way into criminal circles, and is now one of the most popular lock picking techniques.
Though not all home locks are vulnerable to bumping, the majority are. Cylinder locks, which have the pin tumbler mechanism mentioned above, are standard in homes across the country. Unfortunately, because they’re so commonplace, criminals are able to easily take advantage of this simple and mass-produced locking mechanism

opening lock with key

Should I Be Worried?

When in the wrong hands, bump keys are used to gain illegal entry to a residence — usually with the intention of burglary. While the possibility of your home falling victim to lock bumping may seem far-fetched, this method has been on the rise since 2002, and is so easy to execute a toddler could do it. Let’s look at the facts: 

  • Lock bump keys are extremely cheap ($3 on Amazon). This means anyone with an internet connection and a couple spare bucks can become a lock-picker.
  • Lock bumping is incredibly easy to learn, requiring no special skills or strength to execute.
  • On average, bumping a lock takes only 10 seconds, making it a quick and 
  • It’s a non-destructive lock-picking method. Since most insurance companies need to see some sign of forced entry to approve claims, this method is particularly worrisome for homeowners.
  • About 90% of US homes have cylinder locks that can be bumped

This last statistic is concerning. As someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about locks and how they work, how can you tell if you have one of those cylinder locks mentioned earlier? You don’t need an expert’s help for this. If your door locks are relatively old, came with the house or apartment, and require only one key to operate, it’s a safe bet that you have a cylinder lock. 

keyhole

How to prevent lock bumping

The first step you can take to prevent lock-bumping is finding a method to safeguard your locks against this technique or taking security measures to make your home less appealing to thieves. 

  • High-security locks: The best locks are the ones that can’t be picked. At the moment, there are several bump-resistant locks on the market, most of which come with a UL 437 rating and unique markings near the keyhole. (“UL” stands for “Underwriter Laboratories” which is the most commonly used rating system for mechanical locks in the US). These locks don’t use the tumbler-pin mechanism of cylinder locks, instead using tough-to-pick safety features that protect against picking or excessive force. They’re also patent protected, meaning only one company manufacturers the key and issues it to locksmiths or security companies. When choosing a lock for your home, be sure to ask your locksmith about high-security lock options. 
  • Anti-bump lock guards: If you’re on a budget, purchasing a bump-resistant guard may be the way to go. These devices are available on the internet or in hardware stores, and can be easily installed on your door. The most common bump-proof device is the thumb-turn guard, which latches on to the indoor thumb-turn part of your deadbolt, holding the lock firmly in place. However, there are disadvantages to this method since it prevents the door from unlocking on the outside. 
  • Keyless deadbolt locks: This is a popular method for homeowners looking for added security. Similar to the last method, keyless deadbolt locks can only be turned from the inside, making for less-convenient entry or exit, but they do have the added benefit of being entirely pick-proof from the outside.
  • Home security system: Though lock-picking is a swift and quiet process, burglars will be less-likely to target your home if your yard is well-lit and clear of any convenient hiding spots. The addition of home security systems and or security cameras can be a great defense as well, deterring potential thieves and alerting you to any outside threats.
CCTV Security Camera

Get a locksmith’s advice

If you’re unsure of how secure your home really is, consult one of the  experts at Pop-A-Lock. We’ll offer commercial security audits where we’ll sweep your property in search of potential security risks and provide advice on how to fortify your home. Just give us a call or check out our website for more information. We’re always happy to help a home in need.

How To: Keep Your Home & Business Safe With Smart Devices

We hear the buzzwords all the time. Internet of Things. Connected devices. Smart TVs and thermostats.

There’s no denying smart technology is on the rise. The worldwide smart home market is forecasted to be $53.5 billion by 2022. The current estimated connected home technologies sales in the U.S. is at $1,485,000.

Smart technology can provide both home and business owners alike with peace of mind, convenience and efficiency. It can also be overwhelming to pick the right device for you from such a crowded market. And once you do pick the device, you have to learn how to use it most effectively.

Below, our trained Pop-A-Lock technicians give some suggested smart devices to improve your home’s or business’s security, and how they work.

Smart Devices for Increased Security:

There are a variety of smart devices that can automate processes and help to increase your home or business’s security.  Some devices to consider include:

Home Smart Key Security

Smart Locks

Installing smart locks can be a great first step in home or business automation, and can help increase the security of both as well. For starters, a lot of smart locks will give you remote access, allowing you to check from afar if your door is locked. Never again will you have that “oh no, did I lock the door?” feeling 20 minutes down the road.

Additionally, smart locks can help you control who has access to your home or business in a more secure manner. With traditional keys, if you want someone to have access without your help, you have to make a copy of the key. But then, eventually, there are too many copies floating around and your security has actually decreased. With many smart locks, you can give someone a code to unlock the door. This code can then be changed every so often, to make sure only the correct people have access.

Some smart locks even go a step further, and allow you to give out time-limited codes. For example, you can give someone a code that lasts 15 minutes, or 24 hours. Then that code expires. This ensures people only have access for as long as you want them to.

Automated Light Bulbs

Setting light bulbs  to automatically come on at certain times of day can also deter any potential thieves. You could set your lights on a traditional timer, so they turn on and off at specific times each day. Or, if you’d like to go to the next level, there are smart light bulbs that can be controlled remotely. These allow you to monitor which lights are on in your house or business, and turn any of them on or off from wherever you are.  Even if you’re not there, if lights are on inside it will look like you are, which will deter those robbers!

Motion-Activated Outdoor Lights

The same idea from above applies to outdoor lighting. If a thief is sneaking around your yard or the parking lot of your business, and they trigger a light, they’ll likely be scared off. The threat of being seen by neighbors, passersby, or someone inside the house or building  is increased when a light shines. No crook wants that!

Well Lit Home Security

Smart Doorbells

There are some pretty high-tech doorbells available today. Many of them have video cameras built in, which is a great way to remotely keep an eye on your house. If you’re away, you can check in every once in a while for peace of mind that all is still well. If you are home or in the office at odd hours, and you hear an unexpected noise outside or knock on the door, you can safely check who it is before actually answering the door.

Many of these doorbells can also send alerts to your phone if motion is detected. If someone is roaming around outside your home or business, you’ll get a real-time notification on your phone. Then you can open up the app, check the camera footage and make sure everything is safe. If something is wrong, you can call emergency services faster than if you don’t know something is wrong until you get home later.

Smart Garage Doors

Garage doors with the right technology can also provide increased security for your home or business. Some smart garages will alert you when the door is left open and allow you to close them remotely. This is a great way to make sure no entries to the house are left open for thievery.

Similarly to the doorbells, some smart garages will also alert you of motion detected. Again, even if you are not home or inside the business, you can check on the app what the motion was. If it is someone or something suspicious, you can alert the police sooner.

Security Systems With Connected Cameras

Security systems with connected cameras let you keep an eye on your home or business while you’re away. These smart cameras allow you to check areas like your living room, backyard, office space – anywhere you set one up. And, they allow you to do this any time, anywhere.

Some systems will even assign dates and times to its footage. So, say you get an alert on your phone at 3am that motion is detected in your backyard. You can go back later and check the footage from 3am to see what the motion was. And, many of these systems can be accessed from mobile devices, so you don’t have to be at a computer to check.

Another great possible feature of these smart security systems is setting virtual boundaries. You could set one, for example, to go a certain distance around your home or specifically around an area of your office that needs added security. If that boundary is breached, you’ll be alerted.

Be Proactive

Smart home technologies come in a wide variety. No matter the device or system, though, they all have one thing in common – they’ll provide you convenience and peace of mind when it comes to your home or business’s security. Don’t wait until something happens to retroactively install better security measures, though. Be proactive and get started today, to ensure you and your family or employees stay safe!

Pop-A-Lock Mascot Hugging Child

We at Pop-A-Lock know it’s a very crowded market of smart technology. If you’re not sure which to try first, check this list of smart home technologies, which recommends good starter devices, such as smart locks and doorbells.

Or, contact your local Pop-A-Lock professionals today to learn more about what solution might be best for you!