Who’s really monitoring your home security system?

Who's monitoring your alarm system?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The “do it yourself” home security market is booming right now. Companies like SimpliSafe offer a wide variety of products that protect every window, room and door in your home from intruders to fires and everything in between all monitored 24/7 by employees ready to dispatch police. If an emergency happens and the company can’t reach you, then SimpliSafe and other companies offer the option of allowing their staff to access the cameras and advise first responders what they see.

Security consultant Mike Silva says in some cases, if you want police to respond, you have to have some kind of verification.

"Either they call you and you say the bad guy is here, that’s one way to verify. The other way is to use either a microphone or camera or both to hear what’s going on and see that something is truly going on... it’s not a false alarm,” Silva said.

According to Safety.com, monitored alarm companies generally don’t have unfettered access to your cameras. Instead, they receive alerts prompted by your in-home sensors. They only receive information and video when it warrants.

Silva says some companies like Ring use a cloud-based service to store data and that can possibly lead to privacy issues.

"You are always at the risk that somebody in that organization or some hacker could get access to that data,” Silva said.

John Orange who lives in Jefferson County claims someone interrupted his kids basketball game last year. Orange says an unknown voice came on through his Ring speaker system which is attached over his garage. He says that unknown person started talking to his kids and encouraged them to get closer to the camera. That incident is a part of a federal class action lawsuit he and others recently filed against Ring and its parent company Amazon.

"He was pretty freaked out by it and pretty alarmed…that a security device that he purchased to maintain the security of his home was infiltrated,” Ryan McGee, Orange’s attorney in Tampa said.

McGee tells WBRC says after the incident, Orange changed the camera’s password and enabled two-factor authentication. Before that, the lawsuit says Orange believes Ring did not provide customers the ability to protect their systems with two-factor authentication. The lawsuit says the Ring camera systems are “fatally flawed” going on to say the company does not fulfill its promise of providing privacy and security for customers.

"We’re looking to get business practice improvements so that these types of issues aren’t as rampant as you see in the news and we can improve their businesses and their approach to security and their approach to people’s privacy,” McGee said.

Silva says the chances of something like this happening to you are slim.

"When you have millions and millions of these things out there, the chances of that happening to you specifically are pretty small. It’s one of those things that are possible but not likely,” Silva said.

Ring released the following statement to WBRC about the lawsuit:

“At Ring, our top priority is the safety and security of our customers. We understand that Ring users put their trust in our products, and we strive to maintain that trust. While we do not comment on ongoing litigation, it is important to note that there is no evidence that Ring’s systems or network were compromised. But we have taken the issues seriously and plan to launch new user privacy controls. We will continue our long-standing commitment to making our Ring devices even stronger and more secure than ever.”

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