Breaking the Code

A key point of entry into your home for thieves is the garage, and if you own an older type garage door opener, your home could be vulnerable.

The weakness of these units is the frequencies that operate them, using something called “fixed codes”. Fixed codes were initially developed years ago to combat a shared frequency problem. If a homeowner wanted to change the frequency, all he or she had to do was preset a digital code by switching eight to 12 “Dip Switches” on the receiver and transmitter. Whatever number sequence selected for the receiver (garage door motor) had to be the same for the transmitter (remote).

Multi-Code System

With this multi-code system, garages were secure again. Or were they?

Now a new problem developed. Burglars were scanning these frequencies with something called a “code grabber”. Criminals were able to defeat the multi-code system by grabbing codes from homeowners who were leaving their homes. There were basically two types of scanners. The first type scooped up the code when the homeowner pushed the garage door to either open or close it.

Once displayed on a screen, the criminal could immediately re-transmit the signal to open the door. The second type of scanner would automatically attempt every possible combination in a very short time. It didn’t take long for the frequency numbers to show up and the crook to enter the garage.

This caused garage door opener manufacturers to switch their transmitter/receivers to something called “rolling code” technology. For the “rolling code” to work, both the transmitter found in the remote and the receiver found in the overhead garage door opener must react with each other and have the same code generator.

After one code is used, both devices roll out a new code and continue to work together. Because the frequency codes are constantly changing, this technology prevents crooks from capturing codes and gaining entry.

New garage door openers can be securely locked when the door is down and can also monitor against attempted forced opening. Once the door is down, if an intruder tries to pry the door up, the locking system will reactivate the opener to the closed position.

Provide Temporary Passwords

If you have a system that allows you to control the opening and closing of the door from an outside keypad, did you know you can provide temporary passwords to friends or service people without having to reveal your own personal identity code? Did you also know you could program a temporary password (numeric) for a limited number of activations for a predetermined number of hours of operation?

How about coming home to automatic lights that stay on in your garage for up to 4 1/2 minutes before automatically shutting off? This is a standard feature today with most garage door openers. You can also program your vehicles built-in remote to accept a frequency code, enabling you to control the lights and opening from the comfort of your own automobile.

Going on vacation? Here’s a great security feature. Just push and hold the vacation button on the main panel until you see a light flashing. This signifies you have now blocked all outside frequencies while away.

Once a new homeowner takes possession, they often don’t change the frequencies on the garage door remotes or outside keypad. This is very dangerous because previous owners may still have a remote to your overhead garage door. If this is the case, even though you spent money to have your locks rekeyed, you’ve still allowed access by an outsider who holds a garage door opener.

So why don’t new homeowners change their garage door remotes? The problem lies in the fact new homeowners are not aware their remote frequencies need to be changed or just don’t know how to change them. Here’s a tip. Check on the door opener itself. Often there are step-by-step instructions on the unit located near the motor.

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