We all want security and the expectation of privacy that comes along with it. We want the confidence that what is ours ––our things, our spaces, and our information––is protected.
Most people pay at least something for peace of mind. To get there, we are willing to spend our own money on things that don’t benefit us in any other way. They simply protect our privacy and our property; Security software, door and security cameras, security services, the occasional locksmith, a few hundred to replace that lost or washed car key. When we spend that money, we make a bet the company’s product or service will do what we expect; that is one definition of security. After all, “Security is a system performing as expected.”
Sometimes that doesn’t work out. In just the last month, there has been a lot to talk about with security cameras being … insecure.
The security camera brand eufy™ has been reported as having effectively unauthenticated access to their customers’ live camera video. These security cameras were advertised as “end-to-end encrypted,”; and that term in security is supposed to mean both ends are secured.
In another case that bears a cautionary tale for us, two men made a concerted effort to find the passwords of user email accounts associated with Ring doorbell cameras. They then decided it was fun to place calls to local police and use the cameras to record the emergency police responses. The hoax reports were not trivial; one involved alcohol, minors, and gunfire in a residence. This makes a more concerning twist on that practice (called “SWAT’ing”) – if that can be more concerning. This is not just a cautionary tale about using strong passwords for your email account. When we decide which security camera to buy, we need to take a good clear look at what it can do.
Someone buying a eufy™ camera a year ago might not have had the time or technical ability to test their online site for such a thing, but someone today would be well informed to search online for what they might be buying into. Knowing what even a couple of people can do “for fun” with a person’s email account might be a good thing to keep in mind when you are setting up your security camera. If you’re asking yourself, “Is it safer to put a camera on your door”? That’s a start and your call to make, but it’s also safer to make sure you control and trust those who can access it once it’s there.
You don’t buy a Roomba as a security device, well, unless it’s a vain attempt to keep the cat out of the living room- but iRobot, the maker of the Roomba, too, had a problem. One of their vendors breached their and their customer’s trust by sharing the imagery from the Roomba’s cameras. The most cited image, in that case, was a woman indisposed in a bathroom. iRobot has had a good track record for privacy and the security of the software used both by the vacuum and when they are internet-connected to the servers online. This news comes this month as well while iRobot is pending sale to Amazon, a company with a different history of privacy.
To bring these three recent stories to a central theme, when you value your privacy so much as to put your money into security, the confidence you are buying needs to be well established by you. Look into the company you are buying from and the history of the product; for scams that target people who might have it specifically. Think about what the product does, how it is secured, and where the data it collects is stored. Ask yourself questions like our stories here suggest; “Is the convenience of having a live video feed of your front door worth the effort to give it a strong password?”, “Do I want a camera roving the house that puts those pictures online?”, “Do I trust this company?”.
Security is something you can spend a little or a lot of money on, but good security only comes when you take some time to make sure it’s secure and that you can trust who’s providing you with the product or service.