The irony is all too apparent on this one. Security cameras we set up in our homes to keep us safe, can technically be used for another purpose… to see when the coast is clear for a robbery.
International researchers from The Queen Mary University of London and the Chinese Academy of Science recently found “they could tell if someone was in, and even what they were doing in the home, just by looking at data uploaded by the camera and without monitoring the video footage itself.”
The study used data provided by “a large Chinese manufacturer of Internet Protocol (IP) security cameras.” These cameras are used to monitor homes remotely on the internet via video, but research is showing the information “can reveal privacy-compromising information.”
Gareth Tyson is the author of the study and explains that un-encrypted data uploads increase when a security camera is recording movement. An intruder monitoring the system can see that motion, and even tell how fast an individual is moving. Tyson says the risk is when a household is targeted with a device to monitor traffic.
While this attacker would need technical knowledge to monitor and understand the data they’re seeing, Tyson says there’s a chance programs could be developed and sold online that would do it for them.
This specific kind of attack hasn’t happened yet, but it seems only a matter of time before hackers see a potential profit in determining when someone is home, and when they’re not…
Is there a way to make these devices safer? Tyson suggests the companies should “randomly inject data into their systems to make it harder for attackers to spot a pattern.” Seems simple enough. His team is currently working out the kinks to ensure privacy while maintaining camera performance.
Camera systems are simple, and designed to be so to keep manufacturing costs down and product widely available. By creating a more intelligent design the camera system can “understand what the motion is, assess the level of risk, and only upload it and alert the user in a case where the camera feels that it’s worthy doing,” Tyson explains.
This study is the first to investigate risks posed by video streaming traffic. Just in time as the global market for security cameras is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2023.
Gareth Tyson’s study does note that while data from the popular Nest and Xiaomi brands (owned by Google) were not analyzed, they present the same privacy risk. We expect to hear more on their progress as indoor security cameras continue to grow in popularity.
Looking for managed cybersecurity services? DarkHound SecOps has all the data protection you need, contact us today (714) 266-3790 or [email protected]
Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/IhcSHrZXFs4