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The Truth about Cell Jammers

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The Truth about Cell Jammers
March 1, 2020
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The Truth about Cell Jammers

This post was originally published in April 2014. It was updated in March 2020.


A Frontpoint customer presented us with this question on Facebook:

“My area has had several burglaries, and police report the thieves are using jammers to prevent alarm systems from accessing a cellular signal while they burglarize the houses. Is my Frontpoint system susceptible to this type of device?”

Questions about Wi-Fi or cellular monitoring and its reliability in the presence of a jammer have popped up more often in recent years. And this continues to be a question for those with (or considering) a wireless home security system.

A jammer is an illegal device that blocks wireless signals using radio wave frequencies. Under the Communications Act of 1934, using one is considered a form of property theft. More importantly, these devices could prevent someone from calling 911 in the event of an emergency or crime. While the use of jammers is illegal in the United States, it has not stopped some people from using them.

In this blog, we discuss the types of jammers, how jammers impact home security systems, and how to protect your home.

Types of jammers

There are three types of jammers used to block different types of wireless signals:

  1. Cellular jammers specifically block cellular signals, meaning cellular devices. If a jammer is active, your cell phone will not have a network signal.
  2. Wi-Fi jammers create a frequency to block Wi-Fi connections and disable devices “from connecting to 3G, 4G, GPRS, or cordless Wi-Fi networks.”
  3. GPS jammers block satellite frequencies. GPS jammers are less relevant for home security systems but often used to deflect surveillance or spying.

Regardless of the type of frequency used, some burglars may try to use a wireless security camera jammer to block security cameras.

How

jammers impact home security systems

Jammers can disrupt the signals of cellular and Wi-Fi-based home security systems. Your cameras and sensors will not break, but the ability of the sensors to transmit a signal will be limited. This probably is not the answer you wanted to hear—but home security is unlikely to be impacted.

There’s a reason both new and old home alarm companies are choosing wireless technology. Here’s why:

Real burglaries versus Hollywood

Hollywood movies and television often portray burglaries as pre-determined, meticulously planned, and skillfully executed events. In reality, these crimes are rarely carefully orchestrated. The vast majority of burglaries are random, opportunistic acts.

Additionally, burglars are much more likely to be carrying wire cutters, a hammer, or a screwdriver (all easily accessible household items) rather than a security camera jammer. As we mentioned, jammers are illegal for commercial use in the U.S. Although burglars have a disregard for the law, taking the step of obtaining or creating a jammer is expensive, complicated, and likely not worth the risk.

Jammers are not reliable

If a burglar chooses to use a jammer instead of wire cutters, hammers, or screwdrivers, there is no guarantee it will work.

The cellular or Wi-Fi frequencies found in home security systems vary from provider to provider and model to model. Some belong to different carriers, while others feature newer technology—and technology is continuously changing. The burglar would need to match the security system frequency exactly to block the signal.

Additionally, jammers have a limited range based on their quality. Expensive jammers have a longer range than more-affordable jammers—and a burglar would be more likely to buy a cheap jammer if they bother to buy one at all. If a customer places their security system hub in a recommended location— away from doors and windows—a burglar will have a hard time knowing if they’re in range for the jammer to work.

And as a burglar lurks outside waiting for a jammer to work, you are more likely to capture them on a security camera.

Picture of the Frontpoint Outdoor CameraPicture of the Frontpoint Outdoor Camera
Frontpoint’s Outdoor Security Camera has an industry-leading detection range and infrared vision, letting you capture crystal-clear video, day or night.

Wireless home

security is secure

There are a lot of reasons why a burglar simply won't make an effort to lug a security camera jammer around the neighborhood. The combination of planning, unreliability, and high price make it extremely difficult to justify the tactic—especially when standard household tools are (unfortunately) often more effective.

We understand that our customers and home security shoppers are concerned with jammers. And we hear you! We do everything we can to give you peace of mind—not only by providing the best cellular DIY security system available but also by giving you the information you need.

Check out this blog to learn how wireless security cameras help police catch burglars.


Frontpoint makes life easier and more efficient. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.

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Comments
Tom
September 17, 2014 at 6:50 PM
Can we back up the cellular system with an analog line and have both?
Jamie Botzer
September 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM
Hi Tom, that's a great question. We want our customers to have the safest product on the market, and that is a cellular system. We understand why you might want some sort of backup and we do offer other solutions for those customers who live in an area that does not have any cellular reception. These instances are handled on a case-by-case basis. Of course, we want you to feel good about your home security. If you give us a call, one of Support Specialists can get a better understanding of your home security needs and provide recommendations.
chris
January 30, 2015 at 10:25 AM
The arguments used to minimize the jammers' effectiveness are extremely weak... and please, stating that security companies are quick to pick up new technology is a complete nonsense. You are still using wireless technology of the 90's... probably unencrypted etc?
KB
April 7, 2015 at 3:51 PM
I have to agree with Chris, the arguments for the safety of your systems is pretty weak, basically siting the laziness of burglars which could be a baseless assumption, what are the stats? How many burglaries have been executed using this technology and where? How many of your systems have been hacked? What steps is Fronitpoint taking as a precaution or are you just hoping that all burglars, rapists and murderers are cheap, lazy and low-tech?
J Cohn
July 24, 2015 at 5:52 PM
I should think that a partial Faraday cage that blocks all but line of sight to the nearest cell towars would help. They'd have to know where the cell towers were in relation to the location so they could stand in line with the communications. Put the antenna in the ceiling or on the second floor and the first floor can be blocked from the cellular jammer.
aetheriadraconis
February 5, 2016 at 5:58 AM
Yes, "keep alive" ping every N seconds is the only way to protect against jammers, but I don't think it's feasible using modern GSM/4G networks, because it will require uninterrupted connection. Another real problem is jamming of the wireless sensors themselves and these jammers are available, despite what article says. The only real guard here would be installation of wired sensors/cameras, which is, of course, much more expensive.
Dennis
September 18, 2015 at 4:13 AM
With all the technology floating around there must be a way for the Frontpoint system to be designed to send a unit specific pulse of some kind to the monitoring outfit every 15 sec or so. The receiver would expect a pulse from the unit on that interval; not receiving it would indicate a communication problem, perhaps a jammer. A lost communication alert could be initiated to a monitoring person, who would call the appropriate folks. We have two numbers for them to call, that are not normally at the same location. So some contact could be made. If the incidence of jammer use is as low as you say, and the pulsing electronics is automatic, the added cost should be reasonable for those who feel they want it. Just a concept - the devil is always in the details, but I expect it could be figured out how to do it.
Anonymous Coward
September 28, 2015 at 6:32 PM
"Sensors will not be affected, as they operate on a separate military-grade frequency, but are limited in range." There is no such thing as a "military grade frequency". Due to the low power output of the sensors they can be jammed very easily (easier than the cellular radio). In fact using language like that could even be considered false advertising. I would be TOTALLY shocked if the sensors are not in the ISM band. Radio technology is moving faster than companies like this can move. Software defined radios are all the rage currently and could EASILY be used as a jamming device. Even worse is this technology could potentially allow thieves to know when people are home by monitoring the signals coming from the sensors.
kathleen
February 29, 2016 at 1:56 AM
My system was jammed Repeatedly. Burglars are sophisticated. That is utter nonsense that they don't use jammers I BET 90 percent of them do. Security companies have to catch up. My life was ruined over this major home invasion and theft.
Aaron
September 12, 2016 at 9:35 PM
More details about this event would be appreciated. Sorry you had to deal with this horrible experience.
Jim
May 28, 2016 at 5:07 AM
I have been pre wiring homes, installing and programming systems from DSC, inter logic, and Honeywell for about 5 years and have worked on both commercial and residential panels. Individual wireless transmitters and receivers are supervised and enrolled with the panel by serial number. That means that they send a signal to the panel on a set interval. If the panel does not see a signal from that specific serialized transmitter it will trip the alarm. It would take fairly sophisticated frequency sweeping to detect a specific frequency to mess with then also send that signal at predetermined intervals. A simple "jam" would be detected almost immediately. They could however jam you cell signal slightly more easily, however the customer would then be getting phone calls from there monitoring company and an eventual police dispatch. I don't know a lot about front point specifically but the word "jam" is being used fairly loosely here. Hope this helps someone. This started as a Google search of ways I could improve on my own installations while I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room at 1:00 AM.
George Clooney
July 18, 2016 at 9:16 PM
Seems to me that doing all types of fancy configurations or algarythyms would not make a bit of difference. If someone is jamming the wifi signal in the building, all wifi is blocked including the signal coming from the cable/wifi company. Thus it does not matter if the alarm is smarter as if the cable box is not smarter, game over.
Ana hall
July 25, 2016 at 10:01 PM
Our house was recently burglarized, the burglar was warned ( by cell phone) that we had pulled not the street making the getaway easy. I was thinking perhaps a cell phone scrambler would be my answer but now I'm worried my alarm will be affected. Thoughts?
Katie Rynex
August 1, 2016 at 7:00 PM
Ana, if you were to use a cellphone scrambler this would effect your panels communication to the monitoring station. We hope that this answers your question and ask that you please let us know if you have any other questions!
Theresa mcdermott
October 30, 2016 at 1:43 AM
Can neighbor use jamming device to cause my swann surveillance camera to blurr for the amount of time to do vandalism
Jane Ruddick
January 3, 2017 at 2:38 PM
I live in Costa Rica in the mountains..My one and only neighbor has sued me, case was dismissed..Now, as a pay back his alarm has been going off at night only for going on two weeks...We have called police, our attorney, etc...NOTHING.. How can we block the signal to shut off? We cannot cut any wires or go in there and take the speaker off, we would be the first they would suspect..It is his party house, he is Costa Rican, lives in another town. He is a real slime bag..Get so drunk, shoots guns into the air, music like at stadium level...HELP
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