Most people are aware that using smart devices or internet-connected tech can open you up to privacy issues. After all, we’ve all seen news stories about spying or peeping due to smart device hacking.
Many of these stories are about outside cybercriminals taking advantage of loopholes in the system to gain access to security footage or other personal information. Not many involve security issues caused by employees of smart tech companies. Tap or click here to see why five smart video doorbells recently failed security tests.
However, one recent and scary issue with hacking does involve an employee of a security company. In this case, the employee was using customers’ security cameras to spy on women. Here’s what happened and who was targeted in the hack.
Here’s the backstory
Earlier this week, Telesforo Aviles, a 35-year-old former technician for security company ADT, admitted to federal prosecutors that he accessed more than 200 ADT customer camera feeds to spy on them. Aviles said he targeted particularly attractive women to watch them at home as they undressed, slept or had sex.
According to the guilty plea submitted by Aviles in court, the ADT tech not only spied on the women but secretly accessed the customers’ accounts more than 9,600 times during a four year period.
While working for ADT, Aviles would determine which women to target and note where they lived. He would then add his personal email address to their ADT Pulse accounts to access their video feeds. In some cases, Aviles would tell the women that he needed to temporarily add himself to their accounts to test their security system. In other cases, he would do so without notifying the customer.
Adding his email address to the women’s accounts allowed Aviles to watch the customers’ security camera feeds undetected through the ADT Pulse app. Aviles was eventually caught, but not before accessing over 200 Texas-based video feeds nearly 10,000 times.
ADT first alerted customers to the incident in April 2020 on its website.
Federal charges were brought against Aviles in October 2020 after several women filed suit against ADT due to the security breach. He is only facing up to five years in prison for pleading guilty to computer fraud. ADT is now facing three different lawsuits related to the incident.
Why does it matter to you?
This privacy breach is a big deal for anyone who has a security camera system in their home. There have been other spying cases via security cameras, but those are usually criminals who gained access through weak security measures. In this case, an employee was responsible for the hack, which means there could be similar issues or occurrences in the future.
According to the court record, one defendant, who was still a teenager at the time of the security breach, found that Aviles accessed the home security cameras of her parent’s home at least 73 times between 2017 and 2020. This included footage from her bedroom.
There are other concerning issues raised in the court documents, too. One of the lawsuits claims that the flagrant security breach was discovered not by ADT but “by luck and happenstance.”
“A customer, reporting a technical issue, inadvertently revealed the unwanted third-party access,” the lawsuit alleges. “But for that event, ADT would be unaware of this invasive conduct.”
What can you do about it?
Given the seriousness of this issue, it’s important to understand there are privacy issues to protect yourself against from if using systems like these. Not only are you at risk of being hacked by cybercriminals, but you could also be at risk of company employees spying on you.
To avoid being watched via your security cameras, you should take time to secure the cameras inside your home.
- Locking down your cameras. This can be done by using strong, unique passwords and 2FA when available.
- Adjusting the camera settings. You should also adjust the important settings on your camera for optimal security. You can learn how to do that by tapping or clicking here.
- Staying on top of updates. Any firmware updates need to be completed ASAP. This helps to patch weaknesses in the system and keep out unwanted viewers.
- Buying brands you can trust. There are tons of camera options out there, but don’t buy from brands you don’t recognize. Try the brand Kim trusts and uses, SimpliSafe. Protect your home with SimpliSafe. Visit SimpliSafeKim.com today, for a special offer just for you!
Security camera systems can be a useful tool in deterring crime and keeping an eye on your home, but you need to take steps to protect your privacy if you use one. Outsiders can access these devices if you aren’t on top of securing them, so make sure to follow the tips above to avoid spying or hacking issues. This will help keep you, your privacy and your home safe.