Recently, Consumer Reports conducted a series of tests on several popular DIY home security systems. Their findings were devastating; five top brands were relatively easy to jam signals using a portable radio frequency (RF) transceiver and a laptop. This means that just about anyone with the inclination and know-how could pull this off. The brands included Abode, Cove, Eufy, Ring, and SimpliSafe.
Cove and Eufy were particularly susceptible to replay disarm signal attacks, a more sophisticated attack where the disarm signal is recorded from a keyfob and played later, again using a laptop and RF transceiver.
What is jamming?
Without revealing too many details on how it’s done, jamming a security system involves blocking signals coming from a door, window, or motion sensor and allowing entrance to a home without triggering the alarm.
All an intruder needs to pull this off successfully is a laptop, RF transceiver, and knowledge of the system used in the targeted home. While any wireless system could theoretically be jammed, professional security sensors and detectors employ sophisticated technologies that make it harder to pull off.
The tests were conducted in the CR Digital Lab, used to evaluate various digital products and services for their effectiveness in privacy and security, judging these systems against 70+ factors. SimpliSafe and Abode detected that the system was jammed and alerted the user, though this did not trigger the alarm.
The ring was able to be stopped, though not as quickly as Eufy or Cove systems, and none of these systems detected any jamming was occurring. Ultimately, none of one of the five DIY methods mentioned was able to withstand a jamming attack.
When asked directly about providing updates to prevent jamming, manufacturer responses were mixed. After being questioned by Consumer Reports, Eufy was the only one to respond affirmatively with plans to fix the jamming issue. Cove said they’d consider moving to encrypted sensors in future system versions.
At the same time, Ring could not directly answer the problem, only that they would “continue inventing ways to help protect [their] customers.” SimpliSafe responded by noting future security updates, and Abode mentioned they offer jam detection as a feature but did not address the jamming issue in the report itself.
So how real is this threat?
For most burglars, this type of break-in is a bit high-tech. After all, it would be much easier to target a home without a security system.
CEO Kirk MacDowell of the security consulting firm MacGuard Security Advisors says, “The good news is that the intelligence required to evaluate a home security system and jam it with a specialized RF transceiver is beyond the capabilities of the vast majority of burglars.” Still, he emphasizes that legitimate alarm systems should offer jam detection and encryption to prevent hacking.
Justin Brookman, the director of CR’s technology policy, says, “If it becomes more well-known that burglars can trivially evade certain security systems, then it seems likely more wrongdoers will be able to take advantage of this flaw.” A mass-produced DIY plug-and-play system sold at retail will be a much easier target for would-be hackers than a quality, professionally-installed system.
Putting knowledge into action
As security professionals with over 30 years of industry experience, it’s essential to keep up with the latest developments in technology and any new threats to home and business owners. While hacking and signal jamming may be far and away from the most pressing threat, we ensure our products use only advanced encryption methods and stress the importance of two-factor authentication for all smart accounts. All Systems Integrated customers can attest to our commitment to excellence and quality service.
If you or a loved one is looking for the right solution to our security and alarm monitoring needs, look no further. Get in touch with us today to find out more and start your home security journey.