Cloud-Based Doorbells and Data Breaches | Are You Putting Yourself In Danger?

June 22, 2021 7 min read

Cloud-Based Doorbells and Data Breaches | Are You Putting Yourself In Danger?

I’m sure you have a plan prepared for when danger comes knocking on your front door.

You probably have plans A-Z ready to go. But what would you do if the threat didn’t knock but decided to use the doorbell instead?

Once upon a time, the only reliable means of protecting your home from invaders was with a deadbolt and a double barrel.

In today’s technology-reliant society, we find ourselves updating our home security systems to fit a more modern approach.

Many homeowners have exchanged the dead-bolt and double barrel for technologically advanced, cloud-based security systems.

An entire house can be locked, unlocked, and kept under constant surveillance with an app on your phone.

With the ease and accessibility of technology to make protecting your home a breeze, why would we ever question the degree of security our devices can provide to us.

But, have you ever stopped to wonder, “what protects the technology that protects your home?”

The Pros of Cyber Home Security

pros of home security

There are many pros to having a digital home security system:

  • It allows you to sleep safely and soundly at night.
  • Ease of access to surveillance
  • The presence acts as a deterrence.
  • Remote monitoring from your phone.
  • Security checks are provided at leisure.
  • Instantly notifies law enforcement in the case of a break-in.
  • Verbally command your home’s smart devices to lock the doors.
  • Live-feed video surveillance of people approaching your door.
  • Impressive to friends, family, and neighbors.
  • It protects you and your home.

We have home security systems that notify local authorities after detecting forced entry with pressure pads, infrared motion sensors that will detect movement inside your house, and automatic deadbolt locks that guarantee you never leave home with the doors unlocked again.

In the past two decades, home security services have seen an explosion in the popularity of Cloud-Based Doorbell Cameras.

A doorbell that not only has a nice tune but also comes equipped with a security-grade motion-sensor camera and an intercom system built right in.

The doorbell connects to your phone through a cloud-based server.

So you can greet anyone who stops by as if you were there to greet them yourself personally.

Cloud-based Doorbell Cameras?

doorbell camera

Let’s say you are eagerly awaiting a package.

The company’s delivery person knocks once and begins counting to ten.

After waiting only 8 seconds for someone to answer the door, they turn around and walk back to the truck with your package still in hand.

You finally get to the door and find a note reading the equivalent of better luck next time.

These security camera doorbells detect a person’s movement the second they begin to approach your house.

It then sends a notification to your phone with a live video feed of the action occurring before your front door.

After informing you of your visitor, you’ll have eyes on them before they even have the opportunity to place one foot on your “Welcome” mat.

Most models come with an intercom option that allows two-way communication—allowing you to speak with the visitor directly from the safety of your phone.

That way, you can tell the delivery person to drop the package off at the door, and you’ll “get it when you’re good and ready.”

You can also keep an eye on it while it sits on your front porch and captures any would-be package thieves from stealing it.

While it can not physically prevent them from stealing your package, it does act as a deterrent.

Most people will think twice before stealing a box when there is a camera staring them down.

You are literally giving the gift of sight and communication to your front door.

We’ve come so far with technology, haven’t we?

Ding-Dong! The Free Trade Market is Here

As we progressed further into the 2010s, the technology to produce the device became affordable enough to enter mass production.

Many home security centers were bundling Doorbell Cameras with their security packages. Stand-alone devices were offered at retailers.

Law enforcement provided them as incentives to anyone who wanted to make the neighborhood safer.

Battery-powered models were an alternative to hardwiring. The market was becoming flooded with a variety of available models.

With a vast number of doorbell cameras finding themselves installed onto America's front door, there were inevitably going to be problems.

Data Breaches and Vulnerabilities

data breaches and vulnerabilities

The quick production process left massive vulnerabilities in the device’s cyber security.

Many doorbell camera models suffered data breaches, exposing the personal information of their customers.

However, problems began to arise due to the rushed production process and lousy computer programming.

Several significant security companies were exposed for offering doorbell camera services with massive cyber security vulnerabilities.

Such vulnerabilities allowed for data breaches, allowing unrestricted access to steal a homeowner’s personal information.

Several companies found themselves victims of cyber security hacks, after using encrypted networks to transfer information.

One major security company, Ring, decided to operate without the use of encrypted networks (those are the things that protect a user base's information) because of a sense that “encryption would make the company less valuable, owing to the expense of implementing encryption and lost revenue opportunities due to restricted access.”

They thought the company would be more marketable without an encrypted network...

There are not enough words to explain why this makes absolutely no sense.

The lack of internal security meant the company’s cloud-based connection granted any computer hacker free reign to access the companies’ user services illegally.

There was an open pipeline to collect security footage from archived servers, tap into live video feeds, and make it possible to turn an ordinary neighborhood’s surveillance system into 1984’s Big Brother.

Seeing as how all doorbell cameras are retrofitted to the house, or powered by batteries, the only way to connect with phones or smart devices is via Wifi and a cloud-based server.

The Cons of Cyber Home Security

Despite all these good things, there are some significant cons:

  • Data breaches
  • Exposed personal information
  • Your safety is in the control of a company
  • Flawed cyber security
  • Careless transference of user data
  • Stolen internet passwords
  • Company partnerships with law enforcement forgo warrant approvals for surveillance and invasive monitoring.
  • Cyber hackers taking control of your home’s security.
  • Unencrypted access to your live video feed

Who Watches the Watchmen? A Ring Leader?

big brother watching over

A leading home security company, Ring, was exposed for several flaws and controversies in their data privacy practices.

One flaw revealed a data breach that would allow computer hackers to access and steal internet passwords.

An investigation of the data breach concluded with the company transferring its user’s personal information over an unencrypted network.

Luckily this cyber security hack was discovered by what is known as a “White Hat” hacker in the digital world.

If you didn’t know, there are several types of hackers globally, and not all of them are bad guys.

The white hats look for flaws in a program to learn how to prevent data breaches and criminal cyber hacking. The issues didn’t stop there, though.

The promises of providing safety and security were starting to become a visible facade for home security companies who prioritized profit over solid security.

In 2019, Ring was exposed for forging video-sharing relations with over 400 law enforcement agencies.

The company’s agreement allowed law enforcement to forgo the need to obtain a warrant when requesting and collecting video footage from Ring’s security device users.

The recordings could occur inside or outside a user’s home and could be retained and shared by law enforcement however they chose.

The partnership has come under fire by multiple privacy advocate groups.

Protecting Yourself from Data Breaches

protecting yourself from data breaches

Is it worth it in the long run?

Of course, it’s worth it.

The small number of hiccups experienced in these cyber home security systems are minor compared to the amount of criminal activity they have prevented or stopped.

On average, 60% of burglars are deterred from breaking and entering by the mere indication of a present security system.

Ask yourself, wouldn't it be better to have it and not need it or wish you had it while recounting the value of everything that was stolen for your insurance company?

The advantages of installing a home security system speak for themselves.

The bonus of having a doorbell camera simply gives you one more line of defense against criminals.

Suppose you are concerned about any of the previously mentioned incidents happening to you.

In that case, there are some easy steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a data breach or a cyber security hack:

1. Avoid Using Universal Passwords

Using the same password for every account, regardless of security priority, is like a skeleton key.

Once someone finds out it fits the locks on your house, personal safe, car, etc., they can access everything you have.

2. Use Complex Passwords

The harder it is to guess, the harder it will be to invade your security.

3. Use Credit Cards with Security Alerts

The option to be informed when suspicious activity occurs on your account is a blessing. The charges can be disputed and reinstated in the event of theft.

4. Check to Make Sure Your Security Services are Up to Date 

Many people procrastinate when it comes to maintaining proper security protection.

Performing occasional tests to make sure every sensor and alarm is functioning should eliminate the possibility of an error when it matters most.

5. Don’t Connect Every Device to Your Security System

I know it’s pretty satisfying to tell Alexa to lock the doors and turn on the porch lights.

But if you’re nervous about one breach leading to a cascade of cyber security hacks, then the best approach is to not have everything connected if it’s not a necessity.

Protecting Yourself Today and Tomorrow

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