Protect your assets: A buying guide to office security systems

Antivirus software protects your data, but a robust security system protects your PCs and everything else in your office.

By Michael Brown, PC World |  Security, physical security

A system consisting of just the control panel and one stick-on door/window sensor costs less than $300 ($239 for the control panel and $33 for the sensor). In addition to purchasing the equipment, you'll need to pay $43 per month for central-office monitoring and Web access/control. FrontPoint does not require customers to sign a long-term contract, but the company does encourage such a commitment, as it slices $300 off the price of the equipment in exchange for signing a 36-month service contract.

In addition to intrusion sensors, a FrontPoint system can accommodate surveillance cameras, lighting controls, keyless-entry locks, a thermostat, motion sensors, and even water sensors (for detecting a burst pipe or a flood). You can tie the cameras, sensors, entry locks, and lighting controls all together at the control panel.

As a result, when someone opens a door using the keyless-entry lock, for example, the lock sends a message to the control panel to disarm the alarm system. A lighting-control module, meanwhile, can simultaneously switch on a light when someone opens a door at night. And you can program the cameras to record a video clip automatically when an alarm event is triggered. The cameras themselves are outfitted with motion sensors, too, which is handy for monitoring access to a particular area of your building.

A FrontPoint system consisting of the control panel, two door/window sensors, two indoor night-vision cameras, one motion sensor, one lighting-control module, one in-wall light switch, one panic button, and a thermostat costs $980 (before a $300 rebate). Support for the automation features increases the monthly monitoring fee to $50 per month.

FrontPoint offers smoke and heat detectors for fire detection for residential installations, but not for commercial environments. "In many jurisdictions," Rogers explains, "fire alarms must be a separate system. Commercial fire systems are highly regulated and can be fairly expensive to set up."

If you find yourself forgetting to activate the alarm system, you can configure it to send you a reminder at a specified time, up to seven days a week. also recently added a geo-services feature that can send you an SMS alert reminding you to arm the system when you leave a "fence" (a perimeter around your office that you've drawn on an online map) or when you arrive at another fence (a perimeter around your home, for instance). This last feature is currently available only for Android and iPhone smartphones.

Will It Fit Your Needs?

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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