The 6 Layers of Homestead Defense
Learn the 6 steps to implementing a layered homestead defense plan.
On September 5, 2014… I Got Robbed
My wife and I woke up this morning and realized that during the night, somebody had jumped our fence, came up into our carport, and stole some our things.
They took a baby stroller that was sitting in the carport, and then opened our car (that was unlocked) and took another stroller, a ring that was in the glove box, and a second stroller that was in the back of the car.
This is a hard one for us, because it could’ve been avoided if we hadn’t been so careless to leave our car unlocked, and our stroller in the carport.
In our defense however, it was easy for us to become complacent–we live on a quiet street, in a yard that is entirely fenced off by a cinder block wall, and we have a 75-pound boxer/pit-bull dog patrolling the premises.
At the end of the day, it could’ve been a lot worse. They could’ve stolen more or tried to break in to our house (locked up tight), so we are grateful that it wasn’t.
We count this as a good reminder that when you get complacent, you open the door for bad things to happen to you.
Already since this happened, we’ve had the locksmith out to change the locks on our woodshop, and we switched out the locks on our storage. We are now in the process of getting a motion detector installed on the flood lights, and contemplating cameras.
Layered Home Defense
Effective home defense for your homestead is about using a layered approach. Although nothing is completely “bad guy proof”, combining several B+ measures gives you a solid and formidable line of defense. Here are a handful of the layers to think about incorporating into your homestead security plan.
1. Perimeter Defense
In the world of security, you will frequently hear people talk about physical boundaries and psychological boundaries. Perimeter defenses are made up of both.
Because most of us don’t have moats around our houses these days, the obvious physical boundaries are walls and fences. Slightly less obvious but still physical would be things like hedges or planter boxes.
Physical boundaries can also psychological boundaries however. Anything that has to be crossed, climbed or stepped over is a physical boundary. Other psychological boundaries that aren’t necessarily physical boundaries would be things like yard signs that say no trespassing. Even though a sign isn’t an obstacle that physically separates you from the bad guys, there is an ingrained psychological effect that comes along with letting somebody know that they are not welcome to even set foot on your property.
2. Home Defenses Within Your Property
Your next line of defense is made up of things that are within your property boundaries, but still not to your house yet. These are things like a guard dog, motion lights, and surveillance cameras.
Even if you don’t have a guard dog, a dog that makes any kind of noise is a good layer of defense, because it alerts you. For that matter, you might have some chickens or other critters that make significant noise when somebody approaches. They can serve the same purpose.
3. Secure Access
Your doors and windows can be an enormous strong point of weak spot in your overall security. Statistically, most burglaries and home invasions still happen through the front door.
So, for all the fancy security gadgets and spy fu that’s out there today, a lot of your home security boils down to having good doors and locking them!
By investing in a heavy duty security screen or storm door, you can ramp up your fortifications even more. These solid doors are made of metal, and extremely hard to breach. During the day time, most of these are also very hard to see through, although people on the inside can see out. A relatively low-cost and extremely smart homestead defense measure.
4. Interior Home Defense Measures
A home security system can be a great line of defense once somebody enters your home. Whether you are there or not, the loud noise signals to anybody in the vicinity that your home is in distress.
For a monthly fee, you can also have your home security system connected with professional monitoring. This will relay a message to operators standing by, anytime your home security system is activated. As the operators are notifying emergency personnel, microphones within your home are also activated, so the dispatcher can listen in to get a good idea of what is happening there.
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In the spirit of full disclosure, I actually don’t recommend having your home security system monitored. I sold security systems during college, and I saw enough to make me believe that the additional costs for having your system monitored are not worth it. Plus it’s a bigger nuisance when there are false alarms (and if you have more than a couple false alarms, you’ll usually be charged fines).
One interior home defense measure that not many people have access to is a safe room. A safe room is basically a concrete room in the middle of your home that you can go into to wait out an emergency. It’s not limited to a home invasion scenario necessarily either. People in hurricane and tornado areas can use these in the way that you would use a storm cellar.
5. Personal Defense Weapons
If there is an intruder that has successfully gained access to your home, it’s nice to have a couple of strategically located weapons that you know how to use against him/her.
At the top of that list are firearms. With proper training and ammunition, firearms are the most powerful force multiplier that the average civilian has access to today. Many a bad guy has been stopped in his tracks or shot dead by responsibly armed citizens protecting their homes and families.
If you’re new to firearms, I actually wrote an entire guide about how to choose your first self defense pistol. You can download it for free on my guides page if you’re interested.
Home Defense Shotgun
if you’re a prepper, there are at least 5 solid reasons that you should have a good home security shotgun as well.
- They’re Cheap. Without going through every disclaimer, you can pretty much count on being able to get a sturdy, pump-action shotgun for $350 or less. Mossberg and Remington both make some very affordable shotguns that people have been shooting for years with a high degree of reliability. If you’re willing to look used and do a little negotiating, you can usually find one for even less. This is cheaper than probably 80% of the rifles and handguns out there.
- The ammo is cheap. Not only is the gun itself incredibly affordable, but the ammo isn’t gonna cost you an arm or a leg either. As of writing this (May 2013), shotgun ammo can be had for roughly 20-25 cents a round in bulk. So if you’re purchasing 100 rounds, you can probably get them for roughly $25.00.
- The ammo is available. As we are all acutely aware, perhaps even more important than having CHEAP ammo is having AVAILABLE ammo. After all, what good is the nicest gun if you don’t have ammo to shoot? Absolutely none. The fact that you can get ammo for a shotgun when ammo for other firearms is completely unavailable, is really big. Not only is ammo availability important for stocking, but it also means you can shoot and train more.
- They are extremely versatile. Shotguns can shoot several different loads, with different sized shot, different amounts of powder, and through different length barrels. An 18″ barrel is a great length for a home security shotgun, but if you wanted to use it for hunting let’s say, you could easily swap the barrel out for a longer one, or even a rifled barrel that shoots slugs, giving you lots of options in one cheap gun.
- They are easy to handle. Due to the nature of “scatterguns”, the simple truth is that you don’t have to be as accurate with them to be effective. This makes them ideal for relatively new and inexperienced shooters (wives, older children, etc). In a home defense scenario, a more experienced shooter could arm himself with a handgun or rifle, and allocate the shotgun to a lesser experienced family member with 1 area to monitor. Reloading and chambering rounds are also made very simple with shotguns (particularly a pump-action or semi-auto).
Firearms aren’t the only weapon that can be used against intruders but they are the best proposition for the average homeowner. Knives have been around since the dawn of time. Pepper spray, and other less-than-lethal measures are also available. There are a million things that you could make improvised weapons out of as well. All of these are dicey propositions however, because they involve a close proximity to intruders that puts you at risk.
6. Home Safes
A sturdy home safe can play a critical role in your overall home security. A safe that’s permanently-affixed to your home provides you a safe place that you can securely store money, documents, and other sensitive information.
The fact that you have a safe doesn’t exempt you from the possibility of anything bad happening to the things that are in there. But it does give you another layer of security against maliciousness and misfortune. And remember, layers are the name of the security game.
What About Cyber Security?
Although it’s not as directly tied to bad guys physically hurting you on your homestead, cyber crime is a very real threat that all of us face today. With the click of just a few buttons, hackers can gain access to any unsecured information that is on the web. Things like your address, your driver’s license, passport, birth certificates, marriage certificates, credit cards, health information and much more.
Cyber security measures encompass things like password protection, email encryption, secure document storage, online profiles, hardware protection (for files that are stored on your local machine), and more.
In addition to all the physical measures that you take to secure your homestead, you would do well to consider and implement cyber security measures as well.
Remember, with the click of a button, our passwords send money, authorize contracts, and in every way imaginable, sign our lives away. So it’s important that they be stored somewhere safer than a Chili’s napkin, or the back of a crumpled up business card in your wallet.
Last Pass, a web based company founded in 2008, provides users with a free “1 size fits all” password manager. By setting up an account with them, I could have remote access to a secure listing of every username and password I have–the cyber equivalent of a key cabinet.
Not only that, but after I had installed Lastpass, it automatically searched my computer for any passwords being stored or cached locally on my computer. Once it found them, it gave me the option to store them and then delete any remnants entirely from any computer “log files.” This keeps them out of reach from malicious spyware. Bingo.
Two minutes and a few mouse clicks later, I was bounding towards the light at the end of the password tunnel. This was too good to be true. But too good or not, my passwords were being snugly tucked away in their bed of Last Pass’ double encryption, with their respective descriptions and website urls.
It gets even better.
Not only will Last Password store all your passwords for you, but it also gives you the option to automatically populate forms with your pre-stored data. What does that mean? It means that I never have to enter my stupid billing and shipping information again, when I’m buying books at Amazon or shoes from Zappos. Anytime you navigate to a website that has a form to fill in, Last Pass automatically sniffs it out and give you the option to fill it in with the single click of a mouse, using your pre-stored data.
Is there a mobile application for cell phones?
Of course…you knew there would be. There are iPhone and Windows Mobile apps available to make it even more disgustingly convenient. This opens up a whole new world of capabilities to store not only your online passwords, but also things from the offline world too. Things like: car registration, insurance information, gate codes, lock combinations, or other important notes.
What About Security?
Even though a lot technical things go way over my head, I was curious to know just what it is that makes Last Pass so secure. Apparently there many, many components, and after scanning through some reading on “host-proofing”, “salt-dashing” and various and sundry other terms, I realized that unfortunately these were pretty much over my head too.
For me, the big thing that I do understand however, is that due to the multiple types of encryption, my information is encoded BEFORE it even gets to the server to be stored. Everything happens on my computer before it’s sent (when you’re using Last Pass in web mode, that is). It’s like using a combination lock on your storage unit that the facility manger never knows.
Unfortunately, the negative side of this is that if you ever do forget your “all-in-one-ultimate-final-torch-to-burn-all-torches” password, you’re screwed, because they never knew what it was to remind you. But that’s a price I’m definitely willing to pay in return for security and a sane mind.
I’m sure I still have several more corners to turn in the world of identity protection and security, but finding a safe and effective solution to manage my passwords has been a tremendous step.
I promise I don’t have an affiliate account with Last Pass. I’m sure there are other wonderful password managers out there–some probably even better. Last Pass just happened to enter my life on a dark and frustrated night, and offer me some much-needed reprieve. For me, it’s turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. But whether you sign up for an account with Last Pass, or opt for another password manager, do yourself a favor and simplify your life by letting technology be your memory bank and your identity watch dog.