How your smartphone relates to home security

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When it comes to home security, smartphones can either be your best line of defense or the source of a breach that allows an intruder to enter your home. But if you take all the right precautions, your phone can be a huge asset in keeping your home safe.

So how can your smartphone help keep your home safe?

Just as smartphones allow you to stream movies, surf the Web or video chat with a friend, there are security systems with mobile applications that let you monitor what’s going on at home even when you are miles away. Here are some examples of what you can do with a home security system that’s integrated with your smartphone:

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* Receive notifications when someone enters or leaves the house.

* Access home security cameras.

* Receive instant notification if your alarm system is triggered.

* Control your HVAC system remotely, with the ability to shut it off if there’s a potentially dangerous situation like a gas leak.

* Cancel a call for help if there is a false alarm.

But regardless of whether or not you can interact with your security system from your smartphone, criminals can potentially use it to gain access to important information that could compromise your security., a comprehensive online home security resource, offers the following smartphone security tips as they relate to keeping your home safe:

* Password-protect your phone. You’re unlikely to leave your phone out for just anyone to take, but accidents happen and you may end up losing track of it at some point. Protecting it with a password after a certain period of inactivity can help ensure that your phone – and email account, social media pages and other applications – can’t be accessed if it falls into the wrong hands.

* If you do have a security application on your phone, make sure a password or another form of authentication is required every time you make a change, such as disarming your system or adjusting your security settings. It’s best to make this password different than the one used to unlock your phone.

* Never store any codes that relate to your home security system on your phone, no matter how much trouble you might have remembering them. If a phone containing this type of information finds its way into the hands of criminals, it’s almost like giving them the keys to your house. In addition, avoid saving Social Security numbers, passwords or any other sensitive information on your phone.

* Consider adding an extra layer of security to your phone. Programs like Lookout (for Android, Windows and Blackberry) and MobileMe (for the iPhone) can help you find your phone if it’s lost, protect your phone from malware and viruses, and may even allow you to wipe out all of your data remotely if your phone is stolen to prevent thieves from accessing it.

Smartphones are revolutionizing our ability to monitor home security. As long as you take the right precautions and develop the proper safeguards, your home can be much safer, thanks to your phone.