Eric Hochberger Posts Gplus 16

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As you know, we take security very seriously at Alarm Grid. Both home and internet security. So we wanted to speak on the Heartbleed vulnerability the Internet has been buzzing about since yesterday.

For those of you that are unaware, Heartbleed is the codename of a serious bug that was exposed in OpenSSL, a popular implementation of the SSL protocol. SSL is the security protocol that secure sites, like e-commerce stores, use to make sure your information is encrypted as you go to make purchased and give sensitive information.

Like most of the Internet, Alarm Grid's servers do use OpenSSL and thus we were susceptible to this bug. We have already fixed the issue in less than 24 hours of notice by patching our servers and replacing our SSL certificates.

Though, there is a hypothetical chance that your password on Alarm Grid could have been compromised. There is zero evidence that it has been, but as a precautionary method we recommend you change your password on Alarm Grid and any site you have used in the last two years. Yes, that's how long this bug has been present, even though it was just discovered yesterday.

It's important to note that we are fully PCI-compliant and do NOT store your credit card information, so there is no chance that your credit card information could have been compromised from our site. We also do not store any passwords or codes from your home security system. So luckily, there is very little risk to you as an Alarm Grid customer.

Please, make sure you change your password everywhere on the Internet and hope the sites you frequent are as crazy about security as we are!

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We're proud to announce a brand new alarm monitoring checkout here at Alarm Grid. Before we go into the details of our fancy new system, let's go over a quick little history of the old checkout.

We love our e-commerce software, Spree - perhaps more than people should love any software. It let us launch and grow incredibly quickly, all while be very flexible. Maybe a little too flexible to the point of letting us building build original monitoring checkout in it.

Spree was designed for purchasing and shipping physical products. It's amazing for people looking to buy security systems from us. It's helped us tackle complex e-commerce problems like taxation zones, fulfillment, shipping, handling of RMAs and many other things that don't apply to a service like monitoring.

But for our users looking to sign up for alarm monitoring? It was a little silly to have them adding a "Monitoring Plus" product to their shopping cart and going through a whole multi-step checkout process.

Plus it meant you had to pay for your first month of monitoring before we even had you activated. That always bothered us and was one of the primary driving factors behind the new system.

Now? We're proud to announce a single-page checkout for Alarm Monitoring. But beyond that, it has plenty of tricks and features up its sleeve!

For instance, now if you have an account with us and previously purchased equipment we'll automatically fill in your address for you.

And if you're a security enthusiast like us? We're porud to announce our credit card system is powered by Stripe.js. That means your credit card information never even gets sent to us or stored by us.

Perhaps the biggest change? Our new activation setup page. After you complete your checkout you'll be taken to an activation page you can always return until activation under "My Account."

This amazing page is loaded with information for you and let's you send information to your alarm technician before your activation, saving both of us a ton of time.

So please, direct any and all comments and suggestions about the new monitoring checkout in the comments below. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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We're proud to announce the first of many Alarm Grid new features coming in the next fews months: you can now update your credit card used for your monthly monitoring directly on your account page.

After logging in, simply click on "My Account" in the top right corner. Under monitoring locations, you should see an "Update Card" button next to each of the locations.

Once you click "Update Card," you will be taken to a page that will allow you to update your card directly with our merchant processor, Stripe.

Now, the next time we try to bill you, your new card will be used. If you previously had a card that failed, we'll try and bill you in the next few days using this new card. No need to call our technicians anymore!

And for the tech savvy amongst you, the coolest part of this new feature? The security! Your credit card will get transmitted securely to Stripe and never even get submitted to our server thanks to that little pop-up.

Alarm Grid never stores your credit cards in our database and we'll always do our best to protect you, both online and offline.

If you have any problems with this new feature, please let us know. We have lots of exciting things coming!

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If you're looking to save money on your electric bill or just join the smart home revolution, then I have someone I'd like to introduce you to today - the Leviton Z-Wave switch family.

Alarm Grid is proud to now officially carry the entire line of Leviton Z-Wave switches on our site.

When you replace your existing switches with this Leviton Vizia RF+ series, you will be able to remotely control your lights from any Z-Wave controller, including the Honeywell Lynx 5100 with Z-Wave module and Honeywell Tuxedo Touch.

Now allow me to introduce our four new products and explain each of their uses in your home:

  1. Leviton VRS15-1LZ - The VRS15 is the flagship of the Leviton Z-Wave switch line and what we recommend all our customers buy. It can handle up to 15A (or 1800 Watts) of load and can do both incandescent AND compact fluorescent lights (CFL). You can even use them in 3-way when partnered with the Leviton VP0SR-1LZ (3 on our list) and VP0SR-10Z (4 on our list).
  2. The Leviton VRS05-1LZ - The VRS05 is the baby brother of the VRS15. It can handle up to 5A (or 600 watts). We generally do not recommend the VRS05 because it can only handle incandescent and is not as future-proof. It can also be used in 3-way applications when paired with VP0SR-1LZ (3 on our list) and VP0SR-10Z (4 on our list).
  3. Leviton VP0SR-1LZ - The VP0SR-1LZ is the coordinating 3-way switch to use with a VRS05 or VRS15 if the switches are wired properly on the same circuit (using a traveler wire). That's when two switches control one light. The VP0SR-1LZ has a LED indicator.
  4. Leviton VP0SR-10Z - The VP0SR-10Z is a cheaper coordinating 3-way switch that does not have an LED indicator.

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So now that our fearless leader is hitched and I'm not off to any weddings, it's time to return to what I'm sure is everyone's favorite part of Friday: the Owner DIY Blog!

As I introduced in my blog post two weeks ago, I have a Honeywell LYNX L5100  system installed in my home. But it didn't just install itself. I'm here to document how we did it!

So a little background on my house. Like many people in Florida who hate putting up shutters on their second floor, I have high impact Hurricane windows and doors.  


And I don't just have them. I have a LOT of them. Being an older, remodeled home, I have them in all shapes and sizes. French doors, sliding glass doors, and way too many windows.

So when it came time to designing my security system, we had to put a lot of thought into picking the right door and window sensors.

First, let's consider the windows. There's a ton of them and clearly we want to protect that method of entry. 

Since there's over 40 of them (many of the windows are double-hung and multiple panels per opening), we had to rule out wireless window sensors. Even at those affordable Alarm Grid prices, they're unrealistic in that quantity.

We couldn't even use glass break detectors. Impact glass functions a lot like bullet proof glass. It won't shatter and set off the detectors.

So we settled on a few motion detectors placed cleverly throughout the house. Luckily since my manly 9 pound Shih Tzu just squeezes under the 80 lb limit of the Honeywell 5800PIR-RESthe choice of which one to use was obvious.

Need help installing yours? We have a great Honeywell 5800PIR-RES installation video.

With three of those placed in rooms with entryways and hallways outside the rest of the rooms, it was time to move on to the doors. Oh the many doors.

Since I'm a snob, I knew the standard and popular Honeywell 5816 just wasn't thin enough for me. I needed the slightly more expensive, but way more discreet Honeywell 5811.

For the many sliding glass doors, I needed to install two door sensors per door because the doors could open from either direction. Looking for help? We have a great video showing how to install door sensors on a sliding glass door.

For the French doors / double front door? Luckily, one side was a dummy / passive door that locked into the frame. We were able to get away with just one sensor on the active side. Again, we have a great French door installation video for the 5811.

Any questions or concerns on how to design your security system? Next up we'll go over some of the cool stuff we did with Z-Wave. 

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Much like those cheesy Hair Club for Men commercials of the 90s, I'm proud to say, I'm not just one of the founders of Alarm Grid, I'm also a client!


In case you're wondering, yes, I even pay the same as everyone else!  Alarm Grid's prices are already so low, I gladly pay the same monitoring prices.

So, every week I'd like to highlight a different aspect of my alarm system I love and hopefully cover some cool features you might not even know you have!

First, some background.  Like most of you, I don't come from an alarm background.  This system?  The first one I've ever installed.

My previous house already had a Brinks system installed.  So I, like many people, just paid a silly amount to activate the thing and never even realized the cool stuff that was out there.  It was literally a fixed panel with 3 sensors that I paid close to $40 a month for.  What a silly waste!

So, of course, when I moved into my current house, I called up the usual big guys.  They came out, quoted astronomical prices to cover my home's many openings (4 sliding glass doors each requiring two sensors were just the beginning!) and required long term contracts.

After paying enough early termination fees in my life, I decided to make the unfortunate choice of just putting off my alarm system.  That's never an acceptable solution.

Luckily, I soon discovered the Honeywell L5100 and Total Connect 2.0.  It was love at first site.

A panel that required NO wires (except for its power supply) and offered remote control and  Z-Wave?  As a huge gadget geek that always tried and failed to wire smart homes in the past, I knew I met the panel of my dreams.

Now finding the service?  That was obviously an even easier decision for me.  And hopefully after you meet our amazing staff and learn about our incredible service, it will be an easy choice for you.

So stick with me over the coming weeks and learn about my security system and the cool stuff I'm doing every Friday.  

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Hi guys and welcome to our first technology post.  As head of development, I'll be going over some of the cooler and more unique stuff we're doing at Alarm Grid.

Today I want to address a very serious concern, and a very appropriate one for an alarm monitoring company: security.

By now, I'm sure most of you know what SSL (Transport Layer Security / Secure Sockets Layer) websites are.  You know, the ones that start with https:// and have a pretty little green box in the address bar.


You'll generally notice these, or at least look out for them, when you're doing something that should involve privacy.  You know, like checking out from an e-commerce store (wait, you go to store other than Alarm Grid!?) or logging in to your favorite social network

But have you ever noticed some sites like Facebook and Google make the entire site SSL?  If so, ever wonder why?

It's because of a nasty little thing called session hacking.  That's when you're logged into a site and a user can steal your cookie and suddenly be logged in as you without ever even typing in your password!

I know what you're thinking.  It's what we all think when it comes to hacking.  Pff, that only happens to other people. 

Well, you'd be suprised how easy it is and how out of your hands it is.  Have you ever logged in to a non-full SSL site at a coffee shop?  Then you're vulnerable.   

There's actually applications out there any one of you, no matter how little of a tech background you have, could use to session hack.  (Google it.  Just don't tell them I sent you.)

Even if you login to a secure part of the site and go to a single non-secure part of the website, that cookie (unless they specify it's only for secure pages) is likely out in the open.  Suddenly, you just gave a hacker access to that site as you!

That's why Alarm Grid we decided to make the entire site SSL secure throughout the whole page from day one.  Just try finding an insecure page.  We dare you.

So why don't other companies?  Generally, because it's complicated and expensive. But we take your security seriously.  Both your home's and your identity's.

If you have any questions for me, please ask me below in the comments!  

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