Written by JJ
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008
You have to read this one, don’t you? The title is just too catchy to let go.
If you read my recent post on “Ignorance Without Bliss”, you know I was helping out one of my SMB friends, the owner of ‘This Office’ in the story. In my follow up, I told you about the vandalization of the business. And I told you that story so I could tell you this one.
I was at my office the day they found the business had been vandalized. After staying late to work out the password issues and finish up with their PC, I actually had to head straight over to our local ISSA meeting. It was our annual wrap-up and board elections, so it lasted a bit longer. After the meeting, I went along my merry way to This Office to deliver their clean and accessible PC. Finally, I made it home just before midnight.
At 11:48 pm I pulled up to my house. With all the neighbors already asleep, it was dark and lonely at the end of our cul-de-sac. As I got to the middle of the circle I stopped- my garage door was wide open. The position of the house and the garage made it’s gaping hole obvious from all parts of our street, and the next one up. It was also garbage day, leaf pickup day and recylcing day, so I have no clue how many strangers passed by. Nor did I have a clue how long it had been exposed like that- possibly since I left for work at 8:00am – potentially 16 hours of a poor defenselss house. Which may not have been an issue, had it not been my habit to leave the door from the garage to the house unlocked – all the time.
It was freezing outside, so I sat in my warm car while I thought about my options. I called a couple of local friends, but got no answer. My normal instinct would be to go on inside, check it out and move on with life. But with the recent ‘issues’ at This Office, including the breaking, entering and vandalizing the day before, I did some re-thinking and called the non-emergency number for the local police department. I explained I felt pretty sure someone’s opener happened upon my code but… better safe than sorry.
Everything was fine. Three uniformed officers came. They came, they searched, they conquered the empty house and then let me inside.
So it got me thinking. What are the chances of a modern rolling-code garage remote ‘stumbling’ upon another code? Old garage door openers were just remote transmitters, like those used in bomb detinators. Then I guess we moved to coded sets, programmed with dip switches on the transmitter and receiver. (I used to use one of my Dad’s old red plastic dip sticks to put my hair up in a bun) :)
But now…. NOW we have rolling code systems that should make it practically impossible (so they say) to open the wrong garage door with a stray remote. There are about 9 houses which could be in ‘clicking distance’, including 3 angled from other streets.
So, is my garage door opener a dumb bomb detinator? Do I need to dig up that dip stick again? Is it likely someone was trying to ‘hack’ my garage door? Or, are the probabilities of a duplicated code-hopping remote being within range of my house the most likely answer to today’s riddle?
Who knows. But, my lesson was learned. Now I religiously lock the door inside the garage… just in case.
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