davey_d's profile
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3.1K Messages

Thu, Aug 8, 2019 8:47 PM

Jam Detection Update

RF Jamming is a technical reality.  All devices that use wireless communications protocols can be jammed. The good news is, a) this is *not* a known attack vector for home security, because it's not a reliable way to enter and move about a home undetected, and b) we have a jam detection algorithm that is being constantly tuned and updated behind the scenes, which notices if someone is trying to jam your system and alerts you. More on that below:



A little tech talk:




First we'd like to highlight one of the most annoying issues in detecting jam attacks: False positives are a huge problem. Radio signal "noise' is everywhere and intermittent. So for some customers these alerts could become annoying -- and potentially harmful if they created the incorrect feeling that their system isn't working.  We are constantly tuning our detection algorithm to get better and better at differentiating between normal, ubiquitous RF interference and actual, concerning jamming activity without frustrating you with a barrage of nuisance alerts.



Second, jamming without being detected would be extremely difficult, as is clear in the Youtube video.  The jam detection was triggered several times by the tester. Our system's array of multiple sensors and cameras (layers of protection), wireless communications protocols and jam detection algorithm work together to make it very hard for anyone to interfere with your system undetected.



Here's why:

The jamming demonstrated is under controlled conditions, with the "jammer" in close proximity to the base station and the sensor which is transmitting. Our testing shows that moving the jammer to another area away from the base station and having the sensor closer to the base station, the sensor could still communicate with the base station. Also, if the jammer is tuned too close to our transmission frequency, as it moves closer to the base station, it will trigger the RF jamming warning. In other words, prior knowledge of the layout of our motion sensors, door sensors and base station in the customers home and a rehearsal of how to move about the home would be necessary to confidently select a frequency that will both jam and not be detected -- let alone on the first try. Plus they would have to keep the jamming interference in that range for the entire time needed to pull off a burglary, while continuing to avoid detection. It's not impossible...but we're continuously improving our system to make it increasingly impossible.



We frequently tune our detection parameters and release security and usability updates. We are in the process of another round of detection algorithm tuning which will continue to refine our ability to differentiate between the brief interference noise that typically occurs in many homes, and actual bad actors. This update has been in the works for a while -- it's currently in beta and will be released remotely in a month or so.



Also, SimpliSafe already offers video verification -- an opt-in service where, in the event of an alarm, our professional monitoring center views video from your home, prioritizing it for the police. This enhances police response times when real alarm events are in progress, and cuts down on false alarms and unnecessary police dispatches. In the near future, we will offer video verification for potential interference events, where experts at our monitoring center can review footage and determine if police dispatch is warranted.



Finally, a reminder (found in this CNET article):


"The most likely burglary scenario by far is the unsophisticated crime of opportunity, usually involving a broken window or some other kind of brute-force entry. According to the FBI, crimes like these accounted for more than half of all residential burglaries in the US in 2017. The wide majority of the rest were unlawful, unforced entries that resulted from something like a window or a garage door being left open. The odds of a criminal using technical means to bypass a security system are so small that the FBI doesn't even track those statistics.'


We are a company that focused on protecting you, which means we work on protecting you against even unlikely scenarios like this.

Advocate

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2.8K Messages

Il y a 3 y

I too have the 24.99 monitoring plan. (but I don't want or need the phone app, so I have the text message options).

Not sure if your new router has anything to do with this or not.  I guess you could try moving it further away from the base station, or vice versa.

It's already been determined that both SS2 and SS3 can be bypassed with the low frequency transmitters - inside and outside of a home.  However, some people received text/push notifications, others didn't, one person received a notice well after the event.  The question is, what is the customer supposed to do with the information?  Run around the home to see if they have their own radio signals interferring? Asking neighbors about their garage door openers?  Asking construction crews down the street if they're using walkie-talkies?  Stealthing in the dark looking for intruders at 2:00 in the morning?  How is the average user supposed to diagnose in order to feel their system has not been compromised?  That's all I was asking of SS, how does a user differentiate an interference in a radio signal in the home vs an outside jamming detection?

15 Messages

Il y a 3 y

I feel it's good that you get the alert from interference just in case by some small chance someone is trying to defeat your system. I got an email from SS that asked for my permission to use the cameras when an alarm, and i'm guessing the interference alert occurs so they can look to see what's going on. At the end of the day, the system hardware is what it is. There is no changing it out. SS has a system to alert you if interference occurs which should mitigate the situation. My guess is if SS4 ever comes out they will have changed the hardware. I think the system really works well but another thing that no one has talked about is there is no tamper alarm for any of the devices lol.

Advocate

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2.8K Messages

Il y a 3 y

How does... "Wireless Interference. Your Base Station may have trouble communicating with your devices." ...mitigate anything, if that is the sole alert they receive?

The average user has no idea what the message means, or least of all, how to mitigate it.  I'd wager half of SS' customers may not even be aware of the jamming potential for their systems (much like they weren't aware of the issues for SS2, that of course, were never mitigated).

15 Messages

Il y a 3 y

You would think if SS systems both 2 & 3 were being compromised a lot we would have heard about it by now. The fact is most people who would break in to your house would rarely use tactics to defeat the alarm system. They would simply move to the next house without any alarm system. It's been proven that burglar's don't want to be caught. On the other hand sophisticated burglars who have an intent to get into your house will use all means to get in, alarm system or not. Remember you can also get cell signal jammers as well. They have them in some restaurants. The fact that the SS vulnerabilities have been found is good and hopefully next hardware change they will make it harder to defeat the wireless side of the system but don't expect them to develop new hardware and replace all the systems out there. That would probably make them go out of business. I would expect a nice discount for existing users to upgrade to SS4 for example if it ever materializes. As far as the average customer understanding what the interference alert is, my guess is when it happens, SS will try to find out what's going on if they have your permission to access your cameras and probably a confused customer will call them. Just my opinion.

364 Messages

Il y a 3 y

I can imagine they will just push algorithm changes or updates into SS3.
Infact there adding more and more hardware into SS3 (I'm being asked tomorrow for feedback on something in design stage and it is for SS3 so if ss4 ever arrives I cant see if being for a very long time)

Advocate

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2.8K Messages

Il y a 3 y

jrref, part of the problem is hundreds or thousands of people who don't have simplicams.  Maybe SS needs to define a different type of warning/alert so it's clear to the customer when they get an alert so they can investigate themselves (again, providing it's not a generic warning like it seems to be currently).

15 Messages

Il y a 3 y

Agreed a more specific warning would be better.

Advocate

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2.8K Messages

Il y a 3 y

tmgs, if you're having daily connection issues, and if your base station has a tmobile cellular module, call/chat with SS and request a verizon module instead - this has solved countless cellular connections for many people (providing you're not in a very rural area where coverage is always spotty at best).

216 Messages

Il y a 3 y

For me, the uptake on this issue is that if you've got stuff so valuable that the 'bad guys' will take the time to figure out how to bypass your security system, then what the hell are you doing with a consumer-grade, self-installed, security system?

You have to know EXACTLY what it is you are trying to protect, and who you are trying to protect it from, in order to build an adequate safeguard.  If you haven't done that, and are just buying a system out of a general sense of paranoia, then nothing you buy will be safe from criticism.  Simplisafe is a tool in a much larger security plan that you should be developing.  

I am a retired database administrator, I was responsible for protecting a variety of corporate data.  I can assure you there is no such thing as "buy one and done" when it comes to security.  You have to identify ALL the likely threats and develop countermeasures to those threats.  You need to identify the threats you can't protect against as well.  AND you need to identify what you will do if your security has been breached.  How do you recover?

It's the same with home security.  The threats are different, the tools are different, and the costs are different, but planning and implementation are essentially the same.

16 Messages

Il y a 3 y

How about this folks? I have an SS3 system with a bunch of sensors including glass break and motion. Two weeks ago I replaced all of the batteries in the system with fresh batteries, tested the system (all was OK) and then went about my business.

Some days ago, I got a message that one of the motion sensors was now offline. I did what I could from hundreds of miles away, but the issue remained. I asked myself, "Why would a sensor that had fresh fuel and that tested fine all of a sudden go offline"?

This is where the power of suggestion comes in... I had been reading the forums regarding jamming with interest so the first thing I thought of was is someone fooling around outside the house? About ten hours later I get a message that says the sensor is back online and all is well. What the...? Since then, no issue with this sensor.

Yesterday another sensor that has fresh batteries and tested well in another room actually alarms. I'm looking at inside/outside cameras not attached to the SS3 trying to see what's going on, when SS Central calls. I tell them that there's not much to see but the sensor that has gone off is not near anything that can fall, roll or "see" movement outside the house so please send the cavalry, which they do. Again, I am hundreds of miles away.

I see the cavalry as they arrive and after they check...all is tight and secure. So, the question is, what's going on with these motion detectors? Were they wonky from the factory? No...they've been working perfectly for a year. Batteries? No...all of the juice is new.

Now the big question. Is somebody trying to learn or jam my system? What do you guys think?

Advocate

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2.8K Messages

Il y a 3 y

^  I think it would be more productive to troubleshoot the sensors rather than worry (at this point) about a potential jamming - apparently, if someone was jamming your system, and if it failed, you would be getting "wireless interference detected" messages - although SS still needs to inform customers what they're supposed to do about such a message (because it's all over the place, perhaps it's a true interference with a garage door opener or something, or perhaps it's a true jamming event, but SS in all their wisdom does not provide the customer with any method to detect what exactly is going on when it occurs, or how to determine the difference between local wireless interference vs jamming).

As you're probably aware, the motion sensors detect heat, so perhaps your furnace kicked on, there's a register nearby?  Window with sunlight moving across the window?  A bug on the lens?

1 Message

Il y a 3 y

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16 Messages

Il y a 3 y

I thank you for your comments and agree as an interference message is not one of the issues. I find it just very curious that sensors that have had fresh batteries put in around the July time frame and have tested fine twice between July and October would start to act this way. .The very first thing I did was check all of the items/devices you mentioned and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

One thing I will testify to is that I've had a Simplisafe system in the house for 5 years now with no false alarms. The system has gone off to be sure, but once it was a Roomba that we forgot to turn off before we left that closed a door and the other two times were also true alarms caused by something other than a bad guy. That's it, as I remember.

The SS3 system is about as solid as it can be in my opinion and I feel better having it.

Advocate

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2.8K Messages

Il y a 3 y

It's happened to me a time or two with entry sensors.  Fresh batteries and still getting errors ("not responding").  I chalked them up to bad sensors, in which I just trashed one of them, or re-aligned with the magnet and all seemed to be ok again.  There have also been a few reports and a mention from a rep, that sometimes, the small battery terminal inside the sensor needs just a bit of gentle manipulating so that it meets the battery better and is seated better in the battery compartment - that's about the only other thing I can think of.

Advocate

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2.2K Messages

Il y a 3 y

Alarm systems don't actually provide any security.  Their function is to alert you and/or authorities that your real security (locks, dense doors, bars/security screen/film over windows, thorny  plant barriers, etc) has failed.  As a secondary function, they can encourage nervous burglars to leave more quickly than they planned.

326 Messages

Alarm systems definitely provide no security against smash and grab burglaries.  The cops would show up long after a burglar made off with property and the homeowner is left with having to file an insurance claim for damage and loss of property.  I think that they provide mental security for people.  It makes them feel safer.  And of course smoke detectors do provide actual security because they can notify authorities in enough time to potentially put out a fire before it's a total loss.

Still, I'd rather have an alarm sound and let me know that there was an illegal entry.