Are cloud cameras secure? No. They are the opposite of what constitutes security.
If you cannot handle the picture of hard, unflattering reality, stop reading here. I do not aim to please.
Let's Take the Red Pill (?)
But for those of us who prefer to have a valid distinction between left and right, let’s talk about the false sense of security that cloud cameras provide.
Why Cloud Cameras Are Not Secure
In this article, cloud cameras constitute those cameras which connect and upload to the internet and interface with your phone, often using “cloud services” to store your images and video.
Here are the main points of compromise and vulnerability in these cameras:
#1: Your Phone
A security system is only as secure as it’s weakest point. Which is why we immediately start with your smart phone (especially an iPhone).
In the workflow of most cloud-based security cameras, your smartphone is the main interface.
Why is this a bad thing?
Your smart phone is smartly engineered with a purpose of invading your privacy and is full of security vulnerabilities, starting with the plethora of apps that exploitatively upsell, data-mine, and spy on you.
Your cloud-camera’s main interface is therefor fully reliant (and compromised) by your smart phone, which is, in it’s most basic form, a very public and hackable computer.
#2: The Cloud
Read the next sentence out loud. It will resonate better:
“My cloud-camera uploads all it’s images and video to the internet."
Is your cloud camera installed at your house? Then this is the preferred sentence to read out loud:
“My cloud-camera uploads my personal life to the internet all day and night long."
Unless you filming a reality show, this might not be what you want.
Ever heard of Shodan? https://www.shodan.io/ Shodan is where hackers, governments, and average cyber-peeping-toms are enjoying the show your cloud camera provides.
Shodan is where even entry-level bad-guys can find your compromised camera to watch you, your children, your visitors, and your coming and going. And Shodan is just a random, clearnet example.
The cloud itself is a vague term, but companies (yes, even so-called security companies) use it to datamine images of your life, house, and business for all sorts of things unrelated to your security, such as training AI. They have plenty (and I do say plenty) of incentive to sell your images and video to analytics companies for a “good purpose”.
Your trusted cloud-security company can be easily compromised. Hackers are not merely individual people, but entire groups, and in some cases, entire governments.
Even if your camera alone is not compromised, the service-providing company that stores your video can be compromised. And, are they required to tell you if they’ve been hacked and your images have been leaked?
If they must choose between the reputation of their company, and being honest to you, which will they pick? That is a simple question with an easy answer.
#4 The User
Oddly, the single and most compromising agent in the security system (besides the smart phone itself) is the user.
Most people who are seeking the low-price consumer-level cloud-cameras are not experienced in their operation. Hence, anything from a software misconfiguration (varies by app) to an overly-simple password will be the second greatest point of compromise in the entire system (the iphone, of course, being the first).
The Correct Alternative to Cloud Cameras
You get what you pay for.
Hire an actual professional: A specialist security company.
A good, experienced, security company knows the issues stated in this article, and is qualified to set you up with a system that will do it’s job: Protect you.
Cloud, cameras, Exploit you.
Pick your security friends well.
Author Leo Blanchette