Wireless security invites wireless threats

Wireless security invites wireless threats

Your system can be breached by a store-bought jamming device

Most wireless security systems heavily rely on wireless communication, for receiving signals from the many sensors and for communicating an alert when a suspected breach is detected. The advantage is that you can place a virtually unlimited amount of sensors, wherever you need them and with minimal installation effort (and no unsightly cables). However, this does leave the system vulnerable to communication jammers, which can blind the system, at least temporarily, in order to get by without triggering an alarm. 

Jamming devices generally function by creating ‘noise’, drowning out or confusing the devices that share the same frequency in their vicinity and disrupting their signals. Larger devices are capable of sending out stronger signals over a larger range; larger antennas are capable of operating across a broader range of frequencies.

3 tips for defeating jamming devices

To protect a wireless security system from the threat of such communication jammers:

  1. Avoid relying on a single communication channel- diversifying the channels broadens the range of the system and makes it more difficult to drown out all of them simultaneously. It is especially important to separate the communication between the edge sensors and the control unit from the external communication between the control unit and the security personnel. Any breakdown in communication on one channel can also trigger an alert, via a second channel, for possible interference and increase the threat level of the system. While it is possible to completely drown out wireless communication across all frequencies, that would require a very powerful, hard-to-conceal device and skilled engineering.
  2. Disguise the location of your units- Portable jamming devices can be unobtrusive, allowing the user to approach without raising suspicion. However, their range is limited, especially when you factor in the need to go through walls and other obstructions, so they need to be accurately pointed towards the target. Edge security units that are clearly marked, or very visible, make that job easier, and the result is that the control unit will not receive the alert of a breach. Control units that are not adequately camouflaged make it easy for the communication jammer to blanket all outgoing signals that would communicate an alarm to security personnel or law enforcement. 

Design the system to monitor threats- Prolonged RF interference can be a precursor to a breach attempt and the system should be on alert. By monitoring for interference on all the communication channels, the system can react to the interference itself instead of waiting to receive a specific signal which could be disrupted. By raising the threat level of the system to possible activity by a communication jammer, security personnel can be alerted to investigate the threat before the jamming device is able to completely disrupt communication.