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Peekay

Engineers code - is my alarm secure?

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Peekay

I'm a consumer and not an electrician but I hope someone can provide a definitive answer to this question.

 

I have a problem with a stalker who once worked in the alarm industry. I have reason to believe he recently gained access to my house and silenced the alarm, then reset it on leaving. I was baffled by this as I did not believe he could possibly have obtained my user code, however a friend said he might be able to silence and reset the alarm with the alarm company's engineers code.

 

All the house alarm forums I have looked at say that the engineers code alone will not silence an alarm on entering the property if it is ON. I did however read one comment that said he could use the engineers code to secretly add himself as a user if the alarm was OFF.

 

I don't think he had opportunity to access the keypad with the alarm off, but I then began to worry that the alarm company may have set a default user 02 for engineers to use and it was the user 02 code that he had obtained.

 

Anyway, today I changed my user 01 code, deleted the user 02 code and deleted the DURESS code. The system isn't monitored but I believe that the DURESS code will still silence it.

 

So my question is, have I done enough? The alarm is very old (an Acccenta 8) but at present I am not convinced that a newer system will provide any better protection if all someone needs to silence it is a code that a disgruntled alarm engineer may have posted on the internet.

 

Any advice from the community would be very much appreciated.

 

P.S. How he got hold of a door key is an ongoing investigation :-(

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Sharpend

Why not just replace your door locks? 

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Doc Hudson

How old is the alarm.  Who installed the alarm,  Does the alarm actually work when you test it, When was the battery last replaced. If you fit a new system you can decide what the user and engineer codes are, so only you will be able to do anything with the system. 

 

Doc H.

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Peekay

@Sharpend I have most certainly changed the locks ☺️ The alarm is old but I recently did a walk round test and the contacts and PIRs work fine. I don't particularly want the engineers code, I'm happy to let the installer service it, I am just concerned that someone who discovers their engineer code can silence my alarm. I have contacted them but they just seem keen to sell me an upgrade. 

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Andy™

engineer codes cant usually be used to disarm / arm an alarm, they can only access engineer manual. depending what alarm you have, it might have an event log

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Peekay

Thx Andy. That's what I was led to believe.

 

I am still disturbed to think that someone (perhaps a contractor working inside your property) could use the alarm company's engineers code to add a new user when the alarm is off. My keypad just has buttons so there would be no way to know if that had happened.

 

The system that the alarm company want me to upgrade to has an event log.

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Sidney

TBH you would be better off installing a decent CCTV system. At least that could be used as evidence as to who’s approaching your property etc. 

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Sharpend

Sensible choice from Sidney there. 

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Richard-the-ninth
10 hours ago, Andy™ said:

engineer codes cant usually be used to disarm / arm an alarm, they can only access engineer manual. depending what alarm you have, it might have an event log

 

That's not actually true.

An engineers code can set / unset the alarm Provided it was the engineer who set it.

The idea is the engineer can set / unset the alarm during the "service" to see / find out does the alarm actually work.

 

But if the customer has set the alarm, the engineers code does not work.

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Andy™

thats why i said usually. but even in your example, it wouldnt have worked anyway

 

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Peekay

Thanks Richard-the-ninth (and everyone else) for adding some clarity to this. But the question remains,  if my alarm is off, could you add yourself as a new user if you knew the alarm installer's engineers code? 

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Andy™

depends on the alarm, most basic ones only have 1 user code, but others do have multiple users. what alarm do you have?

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Peekay

It's an ADE (Honywell) Optima Accenta 8. According to the manual it has 2 users (only recently discovered by me) plus a fake DURESS user. The DURESS user is only supposed to be set up if the alarm is connected to an external monitoring company, but any code set for it will silence the alarm. 

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binky

First off, very sorry to hear you have a stalker, that is a terrible thing!

 

Secondly, there are numerous cameras at reasonable prices with internet link to your phone. Any disturbance and it sends a message to your mobile, also you can check the house before entering. This maybe of more use to you? Nest cam is a popular example, but many cheaper units exist.

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Peekay

Just to give you guys an update on this, I asked my engineers code question via the Honywell website and much kudos to them for responding, particularly as they typically only deal with business enquiries. Anyway, from the horses mouth, despite its age this alarm is no different from most and it cannot be unset using just the engineers code if a user has set it. Needless to say my installer (who said that it could) will not be getting the job of upgrading it. I am now resigned to the fact that my intruder had obtained my user code somehow. The new system I have been given a demonstration of has key fob access (so you don't need to give anyone a code) plus an access log. It also has a speech dialer that will call me if the alarm goes off. Thx once again for your comments and advice. 

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SLIPSHOD & SLAPDASH

Did you have dirty/worn buttons that make it easy to see the 4 buttons pressed -  also did you have a code that was your or wife/daughter/sons birthday/anniversary etc .  I dont do that many alarms nowadays but it still amazes me that male customers 90% of the time will ask me to put 1966 in for the code & women their anniversary or child's birthday dates.  Most people  over 55 their code starts 195- .   Of course my views only .

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Peekay

You are so right about people using their year of birth as a PIN. That wasn't the case with my alarm but since I have been talking with friends about the issue a couple have confessed to using that to unlock their mobile phones. The key fob alarm system sounds a lot more secure. If my keyholder loses their fob I can change the matching user code but I don't have to tell them what the code is. If I lose my fob I can still use my code to get in. The event log will log user IDs against access events. As a couple of forum users  have recommended I have ordered a CCTV system and I now keep my spare house keys in a key safe bolted to the wall instead of a cereal bowl ! 

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Sharpend

You mean you bolt them to the cereal bowl  now- smashing idea at least you’ll hear someone take them. 

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Andy™
4 hours ago, SLIPSHOD & SLAPDASH said:

Did you have dirty/worn buttons that make it easy to see the 4 buttons pressed -  also did you have a code that was your or wife/daughter/sons birthday/anniversary etc .  I dont do that many alarms nowadays but it still amazes me that male customers 90% of the time will ask me to put 1966 in for the code & women their anniversary or child's birthday dates.  Most people  over 55 their code starts 195- .   Of course my views only .

 

not just your opinion. id say the majority of alarm codes start 194-198. i usually tell them to use another

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