Are Wired or Wireless Panels More Secure?

Wired and wireless panels are equally as secure. This is true as long as the wireless sensors use some type of secure encryption when communicating. This will make it nearly impossible for the sensors to be taken over or controlled by hackers. Wired sensors cannot be taken over wirelessly.

The classic fear with wireless sensors is that they could be subject to wireless attacks. An intruder could use special equipment to mimic the radio frequencies of the sensors and essentially control the security system. While this was relatively uncommon, it was still known to happen on rare occasions. This led many to believe the wired sensors were more secure, as they are not prone to any sort of wireless attacks.

But thanks to advances in technology, many newer wireless sensors use encrypted protocols when communicating. At the basic level, this means that both the sensor and panel hold an secret encryption key. When a signal is sent from the sensor to the panel, the sensor will first encrypt the message. The panel will then use its encryption key to decode the protected message. This process is often referred to as a "digital handshake", and it is excellent for ensuring that the sensors cannot be taken over.

The one downside to encryption is that it can limit the versatility of the sensors. This can be seen with the Honeywell SiX Series Sensors. These sensors are known for being some of the most secure devices in the entire industry. But with their encrypted wireless protocol, the sensors can only be used as with the Honeywell Lyric Controller. Likewise, the encrypted Qolsys S-Line Sensors can be used with any system with a 319.5 MHz wireless receiver, but they will only utilize encryption when used with the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 or Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus.

On the other hand, hardwired sensors have a history of being very secure. As the name implies, these sensors not not communicate wirelessly. Instead, they have a direct, wired connection to the alarm system. This means that they cannot be taken over through a wireless hacking attempt, since a wireless signal cannot be used to cause interference. But with the advent of encrypted sensors, wired sensors are really no more secure than wireless ones.

And even if the system uses unencrypted wireless sensors, it really isn't much of a concern for end users. An intruder would need specialized equipment and knowledge to attack any unencrypted wireless sensor. But if this is a concern for a user who wants a wireless system, they can always obtain a wireless panel that supports encrypted sensors.

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