Smart Home

Home security cameras catch more than intruders

ALBANY, New York: Alex Monticello installed a doorbell camera at his home for convenience, so he could see who was at the door and whether or not a delivery had arrived. He didn’t expect to film himself falling on ice.

Monticello, uninjured in the fall, posted the clip to social media to the delight of friends and family – joining the thousands of people who discovered their home security technology provides something beyond surveillance: entertainment.

The Internet teems with clips both heart warming and shocking, captured by security cameras: a Georgia delivery person who noticed a family along his route had welcomed a baby, so he recorded a message on the doorbell cam and mentioned his own newborn or the Kentucky tornado that rips off siding while the camera stays put.

But is your home really safer?

“The past 10 years or so have been amazing for home security,” Tim Rader, senior director of product development and engineering at ADT, told a Houston Chronicle reporter in December.

ADT is one of the leading suppliers of home security, with more than six million residential and commercial customers.

“The pivot from wired to wireless allowed companies to install sensors in places we couldn’t get to before. Then, fast-forward to next-gen systems, with smart home technology that can immediately identify if a window has been broken or in what room a fire has started.”

Wireless technology has also paved the way for homeowner-installed systems, said Doug Woodard, chief customer experience officer with SimpliSafe, which launched DIY home security products in 2006.

“People are increasingly comfortable with installing and connecting home technology. Now they have an accessible and affordable way to customise and install their own security system with no long-term contract,” he says.

Whether you’re thinking about installing a new home security system or just want to upgrade your setup, there are some factors to consider. Even the most basic of online searches will return dozens of comprehensive reviews of home security systems, which is a good place to start.

A spokesperson for Ring, one of the popular DIY systems, would not reveal sales numbers but said “the company’s mission is to make neighbourhoods safer motivates us to constantly innovate and invent products on behalf of customers”, and “regularly hears from customers who have shared stories of how their Ring products have helped them protect their homes”.

Adam Smith, owner of Audio Obsessions in Albany, installs home security systems. The difference between what Smith offers and the commonly-found DIY systems is that most of them store images to the cloud. If Internet access is disrupted, the video the cameras capture will be lost. The systems Smith installs save footage to a local server.

Smith is nonetheless impressed by the rapid advances in out-of-the box home security. One change is the picture quality. Only 10 years ago, security cameras were analogue. Now, eight mega pixel cameras are common, which means the video is clearer than ever.

The second change is low light sensitivity. Cameras equipped with a LED spotlight that comes on at dusk allows the camera to better capture what happens in front of it.

Finally, artificial intelligence comes into play. The systems can tell the difference between a falling leaf, passing animal and a person.

The smart tech also makes reviewing video easier, Smith noted. Rather than watching all the footage collected by the camera, the technology allows the viewer to pick out events.

Jordan Carleo-Evangelist and Kate Carleo of Albany installed Google Nest cameras outside their Albany home to record the comings and goings of their small children. Mission accomplished, with some added bonuses – several videos of Carleo-Evangelist falling down while going about the tasks of home maintenance.

One video captures him raking snow from the roof after a heavy snowstorm in 2019. A snowshoe-clad Carleo-Evangelist can be seen falling off the edge of his deck into the snow and then his son, five years old at the time, laughing with delight. Another clip shows a neighbour, dressed only in shorts, chasing his dog through the family’s backyard.

While easy to install and use, cloud-based cameras have another risk: hacking. It’s what kept Monticello from putting up cameras inside his house.

In December, The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas put out a warning to consumers after hacking incidents. Unsecured or under-secured devices give cybercriminals an opportunity to intrude into private networks. From there, these hackers can compromise devices and even overload them, so they become inoperable or interfere with transactions, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Some safety tips to keep in mind

Treat your smart devices like computers. Essentially, these devices are like computers, so use the same common sense you would use for keeping your laptop safe. Create a secure, password-protected network to connect to the Internet. Also, change the pre-set password given to you when you received your router. Use multifactor authentication to secure your logins – everywhere. Never download or install files from unverified sources.

Keep your smart devices up to date. Manufacturers will do their best to patch security holes. System updates must be performed regularly, but they are vital for protecting ALL your devices.

Use firewalls. Any device that connects to the Internet should be guarded by a firewall. Be sure to turn on your device’s built-in firewall settings, making sure they are enabled and also use a router with an enabled firewall.

Secure your network. Be sure your home’s wireless network is secure by having proper passwords and up-to-date software. – Times Union, Albany, N.Y./Tribune News Service

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2022/02/14/home-security-cameras-catch-more-than-intruders

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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