The OpSec Blog

Security and privacy information and advice at home and abroad.

Save Money on Security Without Being Cheap

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Usually one of the first “casual conversation” questions I get at social functions is “How can I be safer?”  It’s a good question, and not one that most people give a lot of thought.  By the time I toss out a few ideas I get a perplexed look: “You mean I don’t need to get an [expensive] home alarm system?”  Nope.  Read on for seven simple, effective, and (where applicable) cheap tips for staying safe or enhancing your personal security posture.

1)  Don’t save your credit card number online.  This is less of a privacy risk these days, but it has two major benefits.  First, in the event of a data breach you won’t need to worry as much about changing your credit card and being without what’s usually the most common method of payment in many developed countries.  Second, it forces you to think about your purchases instead of being able to simply click a button to pay for something.

2)  Invest in a good flashlight.  My wife and daughter both have the small, extremely bright Streamlight Microstream flashlight to use when they’re walking in the dark.  Not only is it blinding (loss of vision is a significant hindrance for an attacker) if looked at directly, the solid construction gives you something to strike back with if all else fails.

3)  Make simple travel plans.  Things can go wrong on even the most routine trips.  Everyone in my family has gotten into the habit of telling someone else where they’re going and roughly how long they expect it to take.  If they run past their estimate we get a phone call or text with a status update.  Quick status updates can help responders localize a problem and provide peace of mind for loved ones.  If you’re going to an unfamiliar area print out a map (Google Maps works well) with your route on it so you can find your way back if you get lost.

4)  Leave some lights on at night.  If you’re worried about energy savings, buy some high-efficiency light bulbs.  While this tactic is more for high-crime areas, giving the appearance that someone is awake is a major deterrent to common burglary.  The cost of leaving a few extra lights on at night is probably going to be less than 5% of your monthly electricity bill.

5)  Keep a small but complete first aid kit in your home and vehicle.  You can buy them pre-made from Amazon (example) or make your own.  It should contain several sizes of band-aids, a small roll of medical tape, several rolls of gauze, a cold pack, a small tube of neosporin, and some sterile gauze pads.  These supplies should run you less than $15 and if used quickly can prevent nasty infections for common household cuts and scrapes.  For a more serious injury you can buy valuable time for first responders to arrive and provide professional care.

6)  Take a defensive driving class.  While this is one of the more expensive recommendations in my list (probably a few hundred dollars), most insurance companies offer a discount for drivers who have completed one.  While you can’t measure the dollar value directly if you use the skills you learn to avoid an accident, it’s fairly safe to say that it can pay for itself in a major way.

7)  Use the privacy controls in your social networking profiles.  Limiting what the general public can find out about you makes it hard for criminals to target you with spearphishing attacks and raises your own awareness about what information others have access to.  I recently did an audit of my Facebook profile and was perturbed to see that while only my friends could see my pictures, anyone could see pictures of me that my friends had tagged me in.

Got any tips for staying safe or secure that won’t break the bank?  Discuss in the comments.


Written by OSB

14/02/2012 at 13:18

Posted in Safety, Security

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. Buy a gun. Learn its safety and learn to use it! If you live in VA, you can openly carry a gun without a permit, and you can concealed carry with a permit which isn’t hard to get as long as you aren’t an ex-con. If you are attacked and your life is in danger, putting a bullet through the perp’s head can serve as a warning for any other perps who try to fuck with you. It is our 2nd amendment right. Fight crime, shoot back!!!

    jay watkins

    16/02/2012 at 18:51

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