Security Cameras Can Tell Burglars When You’re Not Home, Study Shows

schwit1 shares a report from CNN: Some popular home security cameras could allow would-be burglars to work out when you’ve left the building, according to a study published Monday. Researchers found they could tell if someone was in, and even what they were doing in the home, just by looking at data uploaded by the camera and without monitoring the video footage itself. The international study was carried out by researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and the Chinese Academy of Science, using data provided by a large Chinese manufacturer of Internet Protocol (IP) security cameras. Cameras like these allow users to monitor their homes remotely via a video feed on the internet, but the researchers say the traffic generated by the devices can reveal privacy-compromising information.

Study author Gareth Tyson from QMUL told CNN that data uploads of the unencrypted data increase when a camera is recording something moving, so an attacker could tell if the camera was uploading footage of someone in motion, and even different types of motion like running or sitting. The risk is that “someone who is specifically targeting an individual household rocks up outside with a device to try and start passively monitoring traffic,” he said. Tyson told CNN that an attacker would require a decent level of technical knowledge to monitor the data themselves, but there is a chance that someone could develop a program that does so and sell it online. Noting that he hasn’t seen any direct evidence of this kind of attack taking place, he said one potential use would be if someone wanted to burgle your house.

Tyson says companies could randomly inject data into their systems to make it harder for attackers to spot a pattern.

The study has been published at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications.