The best wireless security systems are secure, easy to install and affordable. They can include home automation features if you want additional convenience and security. Add on a monthly monitoring package to make sure your family and home are protected at all times, whether you’re at home or not.
To find out what consumers need to know about installing wireless security systems in their homes, we spoke with Tyler Wright, author of Wireless Network Security–a Beginner's Guide and founder of LeetSystems Cybersecurity and Dr. Kevin Du, IEEE Member and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University.
Pros and cons of wireless home security systems
Unlike wired security systems that run through your phone lines and can require more extensive installation, wireless systems can be installed in a matter of minutes as a quick and painless DIY project. “Convenience is the major reason people switch to wireless,” says Du, and it’s hard to argue against a 10-minute setup when the wired option requires professional installation of wires underneath your house.
However, convenience doesn’t necessarily come with added security. Going from wired to wireless security means potentially exposing yourself to outside attacks if you don’t do it right. “You don’t need to enter a house to cut the wire with wireless,” the way you would with wired security, warns Du. Without taking the proper security precautions, you could be leaving your home open to intruders who can jam your system and enter your home without your sensors picking up their presence.
How to keep your wireless security system secure
Don’t write off wireless systems based only on the added security risks. “It’s not an unsolvable problem,” says Du. Homeowners just need to be aware of the risks so they can prevent unwanted security breaches.
There are several guards consumers should put in place to keep their homes safe. The first is encryption, which comes standard on my top three wireless security system picks.
Encryption scrambles the information you send into a code that isn’t accessible to outsiders. Your wireless router should come with encryption on it, but it might not be enabled. Make sure to enable it manually if it isn’t already to keep your data and information secure.
Another form of security some companies use is Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS), which isn’t encrypted. Instead, the signals are spread out to multiple channels that can be captured if sniffers know which ones to check.
“Frequency hopping is a countermeasure against jamming,” says Du, and it is the technique used by the military to counter jamming attacks. “The effectiveness of this approach depends on how widely the frequency is spread and how hard it is to guess the hopping sequence.”
Whether you're using a wireless IP-based system or subscribe to a security component as a part of a "smart home" package; these technologies rely on user passwords to arm and disarm them. To keep these devices secure, it’s recommended that consumers regularly change their passwords and never share them with people outside the household. Make sure to change the manufactured password credentials immediately upon receipt and replace them with a passphrase that cannot be easily guessed. If you go on vacation and have someone coming over to feed pets or check on your home, set a temporary password and reset it as soon as you return. As newer security systems transition to cloud-based, wireless platforms, it is important to guard yourself against network intrusion just as you would with protecting your identity and virtual assets online.
Compare our picks for wireless home security systems with monitoring
Monitored systems are ideal for anyone who wants the comfort of knowing someone is always watching their home. Monitored systems range in what they have to offer, from basic packages that include sensors and a keypad to extensive systems that also include video monitoring with live video streaming, remote access and temperature control.
|Starting monthly price||$19.99||$29.99||$27.99|
|Contract length||36 months||Month-to-month available||24 months|
|Customer satisfaction||Read reviews||Read reviews||Read reviews|
|Starting monthly price||Upfront cost||Wireless option||Contract length||Customer satisfaction|
|$19.99||$0||36 months||Read reviews|
|$29.99||$549.99||Month-to-month available||Read reviews|
|$27.99||$99||24 months||Read reviews|