Warning to homeowners of the 'hidden risks’ of smart home security systems

Warning to homeowners of the 'hidden risks’ of smart home security systems

by Danielle Thompson (March 2020)

HOMEOWNERS across the North West homeowners are being cautioned of the ‘hidden risks’ of smart home security systems.

According to the latest study by insurance firm Ecclesiastical, one in four residents (41%) in the region are considering smart security cameras, while almost a quarter (23%) are also considering smart locks to bolster their security.

Neil McGuire, of insurance broker Lycetts is urging homeowners to consider the legal and insurance implications of smart security investments.

He said: “Tech advancements offer welcome opportunities for internet-connected devices to protect our properties and this latest study suggests many local residents are taking home security seriously and are looking to take advantage.

“Smart CCTV systems can have a particularly powerful role to play in helping to deter opportunist burglars, but we have seen a number of cases in recent months where these systems have been compromised. This has served to heighten concerns about the vulnerability of IP-based cameras to would-be hackers.

“The UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) recently launched a set of minimum requirements for manufacturers – but these are only a voluntary standard. People should consequently do their homework to ensure they are purchasing equipment that is as resilient as possible to cyber-attacks and data theft.

“Cheaper smart devices from less familiar brands will be more likely to harbour security flaws, and helpful independent advice is available from trusted consumer and technology websites that have assessed the potential of data security being compromised.

“Homeowners can also take further precautionary steps, including ensuring they download the latest firmware updates for their devices and that their system passwords are ‘strong’ and secure.”

When installing smart CCTV tech, Mr McGuire has also advised homeowners to ensure they are respecting the privacy of others and are abiding by their legal obligations under UK data protection laws.

If images are captured beyond the boundaries of properties, owners must have ‘clear and justifiable’ reasons for doing so. Guidance is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

Although smart security systems are unlikely to affect home insurance cover, McGuire recommends homeowners to err on the side of caution and check with their insurance provider. Smart locks, for example, which are automated with a smart key or PIN code, may not always conform with an insurer’s minimum security standards.

Mr McGuire added: “Personal cyber insurance should also be considered. Should a smart security system be hacked, a gateway may be opened to wider personal data. Personal cyber insurance can provide limited cover subject to suitable precautions being in place and may be available as an extension on some home insurance policies.”

According to the Office of National Statistics, 42,101 homes were burgled across the North West in the year to June 2019.

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