When I installed a video-cam at my son’s suggestion my feed was full of video-doorbell footage, mostly of package pirates, walkers and wild animals. I just realized how many devices were likely recording my daily walk up and down the street here on Devonshire in Seven Lakes.
It’s clear consumers really do believe the best home security cameras and the best video doorbells are an essential tool when it comes to deterring burglars, one in five US homes has a home security camera installed, according to security site Safety.com’s recent home protection survey.
But can these cameras really stop you getting burgled?
As far as Luke Harris, a former burglar-turned-security-consultant at the smart alarm firm Boundary, is concerned, home security cameras really do make thieves think twice before breaking into your property.
“In a burglar’s mind, when they are scoping out a property, they want to be in and out as quickly as they can, with as little chance of getting caught as possible.
This means that any visual or physical deterrent – whether it be outdoor lighting, a security camera, or a visible alarm – can put them off,” Harris told TechRadar.
Harris was just 12 years old when he started breaking into his neighbors’ houses to steal cigarettes. Having been kicked out the family home at 15, his descent into criminal activity continued, as he regularly committed burglaries, until at 26 he decided he had had enough
Their popularity has drawn the attention of law enforcement (not to mention hackers), which raises new issues for people looking to set one up.
They’re in demand in part because professional systems can cost hundreds of dollars to install, along with steep monthly fees. You can buy a smart camera for as low as $50, pay around $4 a month for cloud storage and get activity-based notifications on your phone.
Cameras are convenient for knowing when packages are delivered or when the dog walker drops off the pooch while you’re not around. But they capture sensitive data that’s sent from your home to company servers—and you should know how to protect your footage from being seen or shared without your permission.
Logitech’s Circle View smart camera works with Apple’s HomeKit and provides end-to-end encryption for extra-secure video capture.
Amazon owned Ring gave surveillance footage to law enforcement 11 times this year without a warrant or customers’ consent. In the past, hackers with stolen credentials broke into Ring camera web portals and scared the living heck out of unsuspecting families with the devices’ two-way talk capabilities.
When Ring, Google’s Nest or Arlo send footage from the camera to the company’s servers, that data is automatically encrypted. Translation: It’s protected if a hacker gains access to those servers.
However, the companies themselves can decrypt that data and—if legally or morally compelled—share it.
When you set up a camera outdoors, often mounted at the doorbell, see if it’s pointed at any area that would be considered a private space such as, for example, a neighbor’s bedroom. Generally, public roads and your own front porch are OK.
Make sure you have a long, unique password and two-factor authentication protecting the camera account, as well as a strong passcode on your phone.