Home Security Systems, Safety vs Privacy - FOX10 News | WALA

Home Security Systems, Safety vs Privacy

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An intruder's at your doorstep…looking for a way inside.  It's an image no homeowner wants.  More and more do-it-yourself security systems are popping up on store shelves and making it really easy for people to monitor their property.  There are many brands to choose from, and all of them carry different options that allow users to keep an eye their home from their smartphone or tablet.

"Wired, wireless, there are a lot of different options," said Nicholas Karakatsoulis, Best Buy Sales Representative.  

All you need is your own WiFi and smartphone.  One smart home security system on the market is the Vivint.  It carries a wide array of products, and like most of its competitors, you can take your pick of door/window sensors, motion detector, glass break detector, flood/freeze sensors, smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector.

Vivint's doorbell camera costs $230 and offers you a first look at the front door. It resembles a normal doorbell, but with an added camera eye and a lighted button that triggers a chime from the SkyControl panel and notifies your mobile app.  Systems with two-way talk and one-way video mean you can see and speak to people at the door and they can hear and reply.   On-demand live video from the Vivint app allows you to view your front door remotely at any time. 

Mark Moore is with TSI Alarms and Audio in Mobile.  He believes that while DIY home security systems can be the less expensive choice for securing your home using a smart home security system, you'll still need to commit to monthly monitoring if you want full functionality.  "So if you do it yourself, who is going to monitor it? I know that there are a few options out there, but you're really relying on whether you've installed this correctly," Moore explained.

Moore adds that if you go it alone, with a DIY security system you run the risk of missing something.  By choosing a professional alarm installation, you benefit from a professional's experience.  Plus an installer can make sure your equipment is set up correctly, walk you through the ins and outs of your system, and make suggestions for how to best secure your home.

FOX10News spoke with Daphne Police about Moore's points.  They agree.  "The technology and what you can do to secure your home now...as the prices are going down...there so many neat things you can do.  But if you're not willing to follow through and do it correctly, yeah people can and will take advantage of you," said Captain Jud Beedy, Daphne Police.

Captain Beedy says while DIY home security systems often provide video of the crime in the act...helping to solve cases faster...a security decal in your window can be enough to keep the bad guys from getting in…in the first place.  
Then there's this…

FOX10News found other vulnerabilities with WiFi cameras that could leave you open to a different type of thief—a bad guy looking to steal your privacy.

"Sure does.  Computers are hacked every day...banking institutions...these big credit companies...so yes, somebody can do it," Capt. Beedy says.

Somebody can do it...and somebody has.  The FOX10 News' web department canvassed the internet and came across websites that stream thousands of private security cameras.  One site claims to feature feeds from IP cameras all over the world, including close to 5,000 in the U.S. alone.   A quick browse pulls up parking lots and stores but also living rooms 
and bedrooms.   How's that possible?  People didn't change their default password.
"If you're going to install these WiFi cameras, it would concern me so I would make sure that I changed the password, went through all the steps to lock it down as best I could so no one could get into it," Capt. Beedy warns.

Representatives from Vivint say its Skycontrol Hub has its own WiFi router that works across a private, encrypted WiFi network, separate from the homeowner's network to protect against hackers.  The company also suggests a professional installed Vivint system offers better security than a DIY camera.

While DIY cameras are a cheaper security alternative, TSI Alarms and Audio tells FOX10 News that it’s not concerned with WiFi systems impacting business.

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