Commentary: Recent Disclosure of an Alleged Flaw in Burglar Alarm Panels

On the 12th of this month, Security eNews–your news blog–carried the following news item related to single-use and combination burglar / fire alarm panels, alleged to be non compliant with regard to UL 985 and NFPA 72:

SDM Magazine (image)Major Alarm Panel Recall Could Be Looming | There appears to be a major issue of non-compliance with both the NFPA and UL codes by possibly every alarm panel manufacturer in the industry — despite being UL certified (click here).

I’d like to make a personal observation on this matter.

Allan B. Colombo, Tech Writer
Allan B. Colombo,  a security/fire Trade Journalist/Writer

First, was public disclosure with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) really necessary? In a world where the popular news media grandstands on any and every opportunity to demonize the security industry, was this really necessary?

Second, as technicians, many of us have suspected that there might be potential issues with the electronic burglar alarm panels we use… but we didn’t publicly disclose the matter because it would tell every burglar known to man that there could be an inherent issue. Oh, and we commonly run our alarm wires inside the walls, inside the structure, and not outside so burglars cannot easily short them.

Combo Burg/Fire Panel (image)
Typical combo burg/fire alarm panel (not named in complaint with CSPC).

Third, couldn’t this be handled in some other manner, other than involving all the above as well as the entire world?

In conclusion, the resolution to this issue is now beyond comprehension or the financial ability of  anyone to address via normal channels.

Not only will this effectively cause most burglar alarm panel manufacturers to expend an unimaginable amount of money and effort to fix, if found to be an issue, but it could put some of them out of business. It may also mean that every alarm company out there might have to return to their good customer’s place of business or residence to replace the alarm panels that they previously installed–and most likely at their own expense.

Did I forget to mention the lawsuits that could result because of all this? Of course, some of the older panels out there were installed before UL and NFPA compliance was codified. That will, of course, help limit or contain the problem to some degree.

Alarm dealers, the immediate resolution to this problem is to stop running all your wires surface on the outside of buildings and homes.  Well, at least make sure you don’t (sorry for the bit of sarcasm here).

And finally, I sincerely hope I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill here, but time will tell. One thing is for sure, this will be an interesting ride.  –Al Colombo

About Al Colombo
Allan B. Colombo (image)Allan B. Colombo is a long-time trade journalist and copywriter in the security and life-safety markets. Over the past 35 years his byline has appeared in nearly every security and locksmith trade magazine on the planet. He’s now a Senior Design Specialist with TpromoCom, a social media, content, and web design company based in Canton, Ohio.

Editor’s Note: Feel free to leave me a comment below. Thank you.

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Attention: Professional Practitioners, Hostage Negotiators and Undercover Operatives

Human Investigation Management – ISIO
Human Investigation Management – ISIO

Attention: Professional Practitioners, Hostage Negotiators and Undercover Operatives.

Professionals Master Skill-Craft as they may hold the lives of others in their hands..

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Want to know more about this training course? For additional information, click here.

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This smart light switch does it all — voice assistant, motion sensor, night light, intercom

This smart light switch does it all — voice assistant, motion sensor, night light, intercom | #TpromoCom #Electrical #SmartHome #HomeAutomation | I recently replaced most of the light switches in my home with TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Switches because it’s pretty damn cool to ask Alexa to turn off the lights, and that happened to be a cheap and reliable way to do it.

But TP-Link just announced a new switch that does so much more. It’s got a built-in voice assistant with its own microphones and speaker. (Weirdly, TP-Link couldn’t say which assistant is built in, though the company implied it’d be Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.) It’s got a motion sensor to turn on and off the lights without me even asking. There’s even a built-in nightlight, and, of course, it plays music.

To read the remainder of this article, click here.

Home Automation Creates a Safer, More Secure Home

There are those who believe that smart home devices are a luxury that they can afford to not have where there are others who wouldn’t be without them. Having lived with home automation, through the use of a special Home Automation Inc. home control system, I can attest to the need.

Not only does it assure that you have lights on when and where needed, but this type of system allows you the luxury of energy management through the control of not only lighting, but of heating and cooling systems. And where there are motorized draperies, the system can be programmed to shut the drapes as the sun travels across the southern exposure during the summer to reduce unneeded heating or open them in the winter to assist with heating.

The only cautionary issue that we now face, whereas in 1991 we didn’t, is that of cyber security issues, due to the fact that today’s smart home devices are essentially IoT connected, either through WiFi or another wireless tech, such as Zigbee.

Ellen Rigney was in bed with her husband Sunday night in their Houston home when she heard a noise coming from the Nest camera connected to her 4-month-old son Topper’s room. First, she thought it was a carbon monoxide alert, but then “we heard sexual expletives being said in his room,” she told NBC affiliate KPRC.

A very good example of this was recently seen by way of a wireless (IoT) video camera baby monitor. Here’s the social media posting I made on behalf of my client Electronic Systems Consultants LLC (ESC) of Columbus, Ohio:

Nest camera hacker threatens to kidnap baby, spooks parents | #ESC_LLC #VideoSurveillance #Baby #Security | “I’m in your baby’s room,” the hacker said. But the baby was alone and safe. http://ow.ly/fjyI30n2TyW

There are trolls out there trolling the Internet and they’re looking for any and all open ports where they can investigate the real possibility of doing harm to anyone at any time. Although all these gadgets are handy and helpful in so many ways, it comes at a price, and vigilance in an assortment of ways is one of the costs. One inconvenience that I can think of is that of the new WiFi unit you got at Christmas. Did you take the time to change the default encryption key?

Author: Al Colombo

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Review: The .44 Magnum and Dirty Harry

Review: The .44 Magnum and Dirty Harry | #TpromoCom #DirtyHarry #44Magnum #Review | Clint Eastwood, the star of Dirty Harry, confronts Scorpio in an all out effort to stop the madness. This 1972 article in Guns magazine discusses the realism with regards to the use of a .44 Magnum revolver and how Eastwood managed to pull it off. This is a review of an article on Eastwood and his gun in the collectible Guns magazine, dated September 1972. http://bit.ly/2xwYzAG

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Editorial: California burns while Sacramento fiddles

Editorial: California burns while Sacramento fiddles | #TpromoCom #Emergency #California #Communications | Our state Legislature passed nearly 1,000 bills last year, including many we could live without. Yet it seems to be having a hard time this year passing several bills that involve matters of life and death — alerts and warning systems during emergencies such as wildfires.

To read the remainder of this timely and informative editorial, click here.

image of multiple fires

You could apathetically blame the slow legislative process, but climate times are different now. California burns while Sacramento fiddles, and the Assembly in particular needs to show some urgency and pass at least two important emergency communication bills before the Aug. 31 deadline for its current session.

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