What is Radio Frequency (RF) Jamming?
Radio Frequency or RF Jamming is one of the easiest methods of defeating a wireless burglar alarm system – the wireless equivalent of cutting the wires on a traditional wired system. Wireless security systems – and anything that runs off a wireless signal – communicates via radio frequency (RF). Jamming is when those signals are overpowered by an even stronger signal – essentially a signal that is “louder” and drowns out the regular wireless frequency.
Jamming A Radio Frequency Is Easy
Jamming a signal requires nothing more than a signal jammer, which can be found online for as little as $10 or creatively fashioned out of readily-available radios and electronics with a little help from some online tutorials and videos. Even an everyday walkie-talkie can be strong enough to jam a consumer-grade alarm system.
Burglar alarms operate by sending a one-way signal from the sensor or contact to the alarm itself when the sensor or contact is tripped. Jamming this signal is thus especially easy, simply by programming a radio transmitter or jamming device to the right frequency and aiming it at the alarm – preventing the alarm signal from ever reaching it, in what is similar a Denial-Of-Service cyber attack. This is especially true for wireless and smart home alarm systems, which usually feature less powerful signals, are less likely to be encrypted, and less likely to have anti-jamming techniques and software built-in.
RF jamming an alarm signal requires knowledge of what frequency the alarm runs off, as well as some basic knowledge of how they work. Figuring these frequencies out is not too difficult, however, as all wireless devices are legally required to display the frequencies on which they run. If the burglar can determine which system you run, they’ll be able to easily find the frequency somewhere online. Most devices broadcast in the 400mhz range, and equipment in that range is usually quite easy to come by.
How To Combat RF Jamming: Software and Systems
To prevent signal jamming, the best burglar alarms systems now come with anti-jamming systems, which can recognize any attempts at jamming the signal; when the detected level of noise (signal) is above the set threshold level, it will either sound an audible alarm warning you, or directly contact the alarm monitoring company about an attempted break-in. Even many home security systems have effective anti-jamming algorithms, which will send alerts to your smartphone or device, alerting you to suspicious behavior or an attempted attack.
Are Jamming Attacks Likely?
Jamming attacks are not extremely likely, unless your home or business is valuable enough to be targeted by dedicated, sophisticated and experienced burglars with ample time for planning and acquiring the right gear. That being this technology is becoming more and more available, and burglars are taking advantage of it.
Most burglars are likely to target unsecured homes instead, and attempt to simply break their way in, as opposed to expending the effort to jam your wireless system. Crimes of opportunity – where the owners forgot to lock the front door or close a window – are also much more likely.