HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Home video surveillance cameras are an extra set of eyes to watch your property, but the security systems also post a very serious risk.
Since many home surveillance systems connect to smartphones through the Internet, someone else could be watching your home – and you would never know it.
“They’re putting themselves out there for anyone to log into and view their activity online,” said John Sancenito, president of the Harrisburg-based security firm INA.
Sancenito showed ABC27 News how real the threat is. We were able to go online and watch live video feeds. We saw a people at work and a man on his computer at home.
“Here’s this woman walking around her house,” Sancenito said. “These are all pictures of things that are archived in the system.”
People probably have no idea they’re live on the Internet. It can happen if the system isn’t password protected.
“It’s not very difficult with most systems,” Sancenito said. “Some of the systems are not designed to have a password and they’re very rudimentary systems and cameras.”
If your system is not secure, you could end up on a website where companies charge a fee to let people view thousands of cameras all over the world. Sancenito says it’s legal if you don’t have a password.
“It’s no different than if you open up the doors to your home and let anyone walking by see inside,” he said. You’ve put it out there, you’re not taking any steps to safeguard your own privacy.”
Why would someone want to watch you in your home?
“There’s a lot of people who – that’s their entertainment, watching little clips of other people’s lives,” Sancenito said.
The potential is there to go beyond creepy to criminal.
“Here’s an individual who obviously is concerned about somebody stealing his tools,” Sancenito said. “You can see though that he’s got his cameras connected online. Now, anybody can view that. I don’t think it would be too difficult to find out where he lives.”
Some websites will even pinpoint the camera’s location.
“In some cases, you can actually narrow it down to a particular neighborhood or maybe even identify the building in which they’re in, especially if you have the video feed as well,” Sancenito said. “It wouldn’t take much to drive around the neighborhood and find the house that matches up with what you’re seeing.”
It may be scary, but the solution is simple.
“I think that if you’re going to use technology, you need to understand the technology,” Sancenito said. “Take some time to read through the documentation, understand the software settings, understand the privacy settings and use them.”
Sancenito says you should use a strong password with at least one uppercase letter, at least one lowercase letter, at least one number, and at least one special character.