Passwords

January 10, 2018 in Crime Tips, internet, passwords, websites by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

How long has it been since you changed your passwords?

Unless you work in an industry where cyber security is a top priority, the typical person should change their passwords every 180 days or about twice a year.

Why should I change my passwords?

The internet has become a hub for just about everything. You can stay in contact with friends and family, exchange information with coworkers and employers, order electronics, buy groceries, and more. Websites most people use include Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix. All of these websites store personal information, such as full names, home and workplace addresses, phone numbers, and bank account information. Leaving this information vulnerable online can leave you vulnerable.

What is a good password?

A good password is a mixture of a bunch of variables. You need to be able to remember it or store it somewhere safe. Safe locations to store a password include written on paper in a locked drawer or secure location, a password vault app, and an encrypted file. It is not safe to store passwords on your computer in a text document, on a sticky note by your computer, or a digital notepad on your phone.

A good password is not a word or phrase you use frequently, shorter than 8 characters (letters, numbers, or symbols), and all the same capitalization. Do not include the word “password” in your password. Good passwords have 8 or more characters, and are a mixture of capital letters, lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.

You can also make your password numerous words long if words are easier for you to remember than a stream of characters. If you have trouble coming up with a new, unique password, simply search for a “strong password generator” on your preferred search engine. There are many free websites that will provide you with a random selection of characters.

Here are some examples of a good password:

  • mr4AX9ZjAq
  • #XuxmQv9F9
  • *Wolf1Confuse2Division3House4!
  • TokyoJack#Skype@56

Notice that some of these password examples are gibberish and others contain English. If you know a second language, you can use a combination of English and non-English words or only use non-English. If you use non-English, it’s still important to use a variety of characters.

Child Security

October 5, 2017 in children, crime, Crime Tips, Current News, Kids, kit, security by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

Child Safety & Security Classes

Is your child starting to be old enough to be left at home alone or with a sibling? Are they using the internet alone? The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers free online training for kids aged 5-17 on home alone safety, internet identity safety, and cyberbullying. Their website is www.netsmartz.org and they have materials for both kids and parents.

DIY Child ID Kit

Although it is not something you would ever want to have to use, a child ID kit is essential if you ever need law enforcement’s help finding your child. It is also a great tool to have when traveling far distances or if you live in a natural disaster area. Here’s what you need to make one at home:

  • Photo of the child’s face, in color, that has been taken in the last 6 months
    • The photo should be updated regularly, about twice a year
    • You should keep a physical copy on hand as well as a digit copy on a phone or computer that you can easily access
  • Create a description of your child and include their name, nickname, birthday, gender, hair color & style, eye color, weight, height, and any identifying qualities. Identifying qualities can include if they wear glasses, have braces, piercings, and birthmarks.
  • A copy of your child’s fingerprints
    • Grab some fingerprint ink from an office supply store
    • Have your child thoroughly wash their hands and fingertips
    • Roll their finger across the ink pad and then roll their finger across plain cardstock or paper, using firm and even pressure
    • The print should show lines and swirls clearly. If there are smudges, try again
    • Keep these prints somewhere secure. Do not give to anyone (including law enforcement) unless it is an emergency
  • A sample of DNA
    • There are services that you can use to collect and store your child’s DNA in case of an emergency, or you can do one of the following:
      • Have your child use a new toothbrush without toothpaste. Do not rinse it off. Let it air dry and then store it in a brown envelope. Use a self-sealing envelope or have your child lick to seal the envelope, and then store it in a cool, dry location
      • Follow the above instructions but instead have your child exclusively use a new hairbrush for a month. Store it with the hair in the brush
      • Collect a used bandage with a blood sample on it from your child and store it in a brown envelope in a cool, dry place
    • Dental Impressions
      • You can use a clean piece of Styrofoam to collect bite marks from your child. Have them bit down firmly on Styrofoam, so that you can clearly see their tooth impressions. Store somewhere safe, and update every two years until they are 18
    • Medical Reports
      • Keep copies of x-rays, dental records, and documentations of broken bones somewhere safe and accessible

If you can only do a couple of these things, the photograph, description, and DNA sample are the most important things to keep.

Above and Beyond Tips for Home Protection. How Good is Your Deadbolt?

April 21, 2017 in break ins, burglary, crime, Crime Tips, deadbolt, safety tips, security by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

There are many factors that can make your home a better target for burglary than other homes. For example, your house is at greater risk if:

  • It sits on a corner lot (more visible to a browsing burglar and a natural place to stop and ask for directions)
  • It is located close to a major highway exit (less than 1 mile)
  • It is located on a through street, which gives a burglar a quicker escape (dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs are safer)
  • It borders a wooded area or playground (provides concealed access for burglars)
  • It is in a wealthier neighborhood
  • It features no signs of young children living there (burglars avoid as someone may be home)
  • It was recently purchased (burglars know you haven’t yet developed close familiarity with neighbors)

 

What can you do to prevent yourself from being a target or stop a criminal if they try to get in? You probably know some of the more common tips, such as:

  • Install a burglar alarm and/or put up an alarm system sign.
  • Don’t let mail and newspapers build up.
  • Set lights on timers to give the appearance someone is home.
  • Have motion activated exterior lights.
  • Adopt a dog that will make noise if they hear someone attempting to get in.

 

But there are actually easy ways to make your house considerably more secure. One especially important way to prevent break ins is actually pretty simple. Have a good deadlock. 65% of break ins occur by forcing a door open. 12% occur because the criminal finds your “hidden” key.

“I have a deadlock, so I’m safe.” Not necessarily. St. Louis is filled with older homes, and many deadlocks are outdated. Do you know the grade of your deadlock? You should always go for Grade 1 deadbolts, they are the most effective. Shorter deadbolts makes it easier to break your door. For example, look at this older deadbolt compared to a newer Grade 1 model:

deadbolt

“I have a new deadbolt, so I’m safe.” Once again, not necessarily. A deadbolt is only as effective as the nails you use. How long are the nails that connect your deadbolt to your door frame? Many come with short 1/2 – 1 inch nails. With nails that short, it is easy to break the frame of your door. You should replace all of your nails with ones at least 3 inches long. These longer nails will go into the studs of your house and make it extremely hard to break down your door. Look at this example:

nail

Simple things like having better deadbolts and nails, locking up when you leave, not leaving an accessible “hidden” key, and working together with your neighbors to keep an eye on your block are effective ways of protecting your home. Remember, not all locks are built the same. Don’t let this be you:

door

Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern

Thank you to “The Family Handyman” for providing information and photos on deadbolt improvement.  Visit their website to learn how to install new deadbolts/nails yourself.

Information on houses being targets was taken from a research study, “Knowing Your Odds: Home Burglary and the Odds Ratio,” by S. Hakim, G. Renger and Y. Shachamurove, City College of New York and University of Pennsylvania, Sept. 2000

Crime Tips – December 2016

December 29, 2016 in Crime Tips, personal safety, phone apps by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

You may hear the same tips over and over on how to prevent crime or victimization, such as locking your doors and hiding valuables. But here are some tips that you may not have heard before or are not as obvious, but are just as important.

  • Keep your keys in hand – Criminals wait for you to be off your guard, keeping your car or house keys in hand for easy access is a great way to avoid being distracted or slowed down.
  • Don’t follow the same patterns – Leaving and returning home at the same time every day, going to the same coffee shop, grocery store, or bar, taking the same routes to your favorite spot, or even a jog route can help criminals plot where you are going to be. Try varying your routes and visiting new places occasionally. Being unpredictable can be a great asset.
  • Say no to strangers – We all want to be helpful and friendly, but it probably isn’t a good idea to lend out your phone, give people money, or get caught up in a conversation. Your priority should be your safety. Catching nice strangers off guard makes it easier to take off with their things.
  • Learn defensive moves – If someone is threatening you to give up your belongings, you should give them up and get out of there. Personal items can be replaced. But if they continue the attack or are attacking you for reasons other than theft, learning some basic self-defense moves can make a big difference. Read some self-defense tips here.
  • Carry a whistle or other loud device – Criminals don’t want you to bring attention to the situation. Scream, blow a whistle, or set off an alarm. Anything to make them hesitate so you can get away.
  • Look for a personal safety phone app – There are multiple choices these days for apps that can schedule fake phone calls from friends in case you need an out from a situation, send your current location and an alert to a friend if you feel unsafe, or even call the police. These apps can be subtle and unnoticeable to the people you are around. Here is a list of some iPhone and Android apps. 

If you are a victim of a crime, don’t be afraid to reach out. Report the crime to the police and look into crime victim help groups.

 

Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern

Winter Safety Tips

December 2, 2016 in Crime Tips, Current News, ice, safety, snow, winter by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

Winter is a beautiful season, but cold and snowy/icy conditions can present a lot of safety concerns. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe and warm this winter.

Vehicle Safety. Be prepared. Keep a flashlight, ice scraper, warning devices (e.g. flares, reflectors), jumper cables, first aid kit, snow shovel and rock salt or sand, bottled water and snacks, and extra blankets in your vehicle. Always have a cell phone with you (but don’t keep it in the car). Don’t leave your car running to warm it up in the morning or to keep it warm while pumping gas or running into the store, this is an easy way to get your vehicle stolen.

Driving Safety. If your car is parked outside, make sure the exhaust pipe and the area around it is clear of snow before you start the car. In icy and snowy conditions, drive slowly, allow plenty of stopping time, and pay attention to the road and other drivers. If you get stuck in the snow, light two flares and place one at each end of the car, a safe distance away. Make sure snow isn’t blocking the exhaust pipe, and stay in the vehicle with a window open slightly to allow fresh air.

Home Safety. Be prepared. Have a week’s worth of food, drinking water, medicine and prescription drugs, pet food, and safety supplies on hand. Do not leave lit candles unattended. Keep your sidewalks and driveway clear of snow each day. If you are unable to remove it, contact a willing neighbor or a snow removal business to do it for you. For those going away this season, snow left on the driveway and sidewalk for a period of time can be a dead giveaway that you aren’t home, so arrange for it to be cleared every day.

 

Have a safe and happy winter season.

Abby Orscheln – Safety & Security Intern