ALBANY, New York: Alex Monticello installed a doorbell camera in his home for convenience, so he could see who was at the door and whether or not a delivery had arrived. He hadn’t expected to film himself falling on the ice.
Monticello, unscathed in the fall, posted the clip on social media to the delight of friends and family – joining the thousands of people who have discovered that their home security technology offers something beyond surveillance: entertainment.
The internet is full of both heartwarming and shocking clips captured by security cameras: a Georgia delivery man who noticed a family on his way had welcomed a baby, so he recorded a message on the doorbell camera and mentioned his own newborn or the Kentucky tornado. which rips the coating while the camera stays in place.
But is your home really safer?
“The last 10 or so years have been incredible for home security,” Tim Rader, senior director of product development and engineering at ADT, told a Houston Chronicle reporter in December.
ADT is a leading home security provider, with more than six million residential and business customers.
“The move from wired to wireless has allowed companies to put sensors in places we couldn’t get to before. Then quickly upgrade to next-gen systems, with smart home technology that can immediately identify if a window has been broken or which room a fire has started.
Wireless technology has also paved the way for homeowner-installed systems, said Doug Woodard, director of customer experience at SimpliSafe, which launched DIY home security products in 2006.
“People are becoming more comfortable with installing and connecting home technology. They now have an accessible and affordable way to customize and install their own security system without a long-term contract,” he says.
Whether you are planning to install a new home security system or just want to upgrade your setup, there are certain factors to consider. Even the most basic online searches will return dozens of comprehensive home security system reviews, which is a good place to start.
A spokesperson for Ring, one of the popular DIY systems, did not reveal sales figures but said the “company’s mission to make neighborhoods safer drives us to innovate and invent products on behalf of customers,” and “regularly hears from customers who have shared stories of how their Ring products have helped protect their homes.”
Adam Smith, owner of Audio Obsessions in Albany, installs home security systems. The difference between what Smith offers and common DIY systems is that most of them store images in the cloud. If Internet access is interrupted, the video captured by the cameras will be lost. Systems installed by Smith store footage on a local server.
Smith is nonetheless impressed with the rapid advances in out-of-the-box home security. One change is the image quality. Only 10 years ago, security cameras were analog. Now, eight-megapixel cameras are common, meaning video is clearer than ever.
The second change is the low light sensitivity. Cameras equipped with an LED floodlight that turns on at dusk allow the camera to better capture what is happening in front of it.
Finally, artificial intelligence comes into play. Systems can tell the difference between a falling leaf, a passing animal and a person.
The smart technology also makes watching videos easier, Smith noted. Rather than watching all the footage collected by the camera, the technology allows the viewer to select events.
Albany-Evangelist Jordan Carleo and Kate Carleo set up Google Nest cameras outside their Albany home to record the whereabouts of their young children. Mission accomplished, with a few added bonuses – multiple videos of Carleo-Evangelist falling while going about house maintenance chores.
A video shows 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 patio into the snow, then his five-year-old son in the time, laughing with pleasure. Another clip shows a neighbour, dressed only in shorts, chasing his dog through the family’s garden.
Although easy to install and use, cloud-based cameras pose another risk: hacking. This is what stopped Monticello from installing cameras in his house.
In December, the Greater Houston and South Texas Better Business Bureau issued a warning to consumers after incidents of hacking. Unsecured or undersecured devices give cybercriminals the opportunity to break into private networks. From there, these hackers can compromise devices and even overload them, so that they become unusable or interfere with transactions, the Houston Chronicle reported.
A few safety tips to remember
Treat your smart devices like computers. Essentially, these devices are like computers, so use the same common sense you would use to protect your laptop. Create a secure, password-protected network to connect to the Internet. Also change the preset password provided to you when you received your router. Use multi-factor authentication to secure your connections – everywhere. Never download or install files from unverified sources.
Keep your smart devices up to date. Manufacturers will do their best to fix security vulnerabilities. System updates should be done regularly, but they are essential to protect ALL your devices.
Use firewalls. Any device that connects to the Internet must be protected by a firewall. Be sure to enable your device’s built-in firewall settings, ensuring they are turned on and also use a router with a firewall enabled.
Secure your network. Make sure your home wireless network is secure by having proper passwords and up-to-date software. –Times Union, Albany, NY/Tribune News Service