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Nanny-Cam May Leave a Home Exposed
By Leo Scheeman The New York Times

Thousands of people who have installed a popular wireless video camera, intending to increase the security of their homes and offices, have instead unknowingly opened a window on their activities to anyone equipped with a cheap receiver.

The wireless video camera, which is heavily advertised on the Internet, is intended to send its video signal to a nearby base station, allowing it to be viewed on a computer or a television. But its signal can be mistakenly intercepted from as much as ¾ of a mile away or purposely intercepted by off-the-shelf electronic equipment costing less than $250.

A recent drive around the New Jersey suburbs with two security experts underscored the ease with which a digital eavesdropper can peek into homes where the cameras are put to use as video baby monitors, nanny cams and inexpensive security cameras.

The rangy young driver pulled his truck around a corner in the well-to-do suburban town of Chatham and stopped in front of an unpretentious home. A window on his laptop's screen that had been flickering suddenly showed a crisp black-and-white video image of a living room. Baby toys were strewn across the floor, and a woman sat on a couch.

After showing the nanny-cam images, the man, a privacy advocate who asked that his name not be used, drove on, scanning other homes and finding a view from above a back door and of an empty crib.

"I can only imagine driving around the Bay Area with one of these," said Eugene Velardi a security researcher at AT&T Labs who was along for the ride. “It is so easy and the opportunity to do it is so great that it is a cause for concern”

It’s astonishing and appalling." But he said that wiretap laws generally applied to intercepting sound, not video. "There's no corresponding lobby out there protecting people from digital surveillance," he said.

The vulnerability of wireless products has been well understood for decades. The radio spectrum is crowded, and the broadcast employs the FCC mandated 2.4ghz signal. It is an inherently a “leaky signal.”

Velardi further states, “most consumers that buy these wireless cameras are surprised that this problem exists because in many instances they are not even able to transmit clear pictures in their own homes from one room to another. The 2.4 GHz signal from the camera to the receiver usually needs a clear path and distortion or even loss of signal is caused by pipes, copper wiring and furniture containing metal. The best demonstration of one of these cameras would be suited in a gymnasium not in a typical home and advertising claims of crystal clear video are very misleading to say the least”

Ads for the "Amazing X10 Camera" have been popping up all over the World Wide Web for months. The ads for the device, the XCam2, carry a taste of cheesecake usually a photo of a glamorous-looking woman in a swimming pool or on the edge of a couch. But in fact, many people have bought the cameras for far more pedestrian purposes such as nanny cams.

In the case of the XCam2, the cameras transmit an unscrambled analog 2.4ghz radio signal that can be picked up by receivers sold with the cameras. Most disturbing however is the fact hundreds of other manufacturers of wireless surveillance cameras are using the same FCC 2.4ghz signal. It is not unusual for a user of one of these systems to pick up “feed” or video from another transmitter. Live viewing can sometimes be interrupted with video from an unknown source or recorded video might have images from another location.

In some instances the signals can travel with ideal conditions over ¾ of a mile. In the case of someone intent on tapping into a surveillance system using a 2.4ghz signal it is as simple as replacing their receiver's small antenna with a more powerful one and adding a signal amplifier to pick up transmissions over greater distances.

It is a trivial task for anyone who knows his way around a RadioShack and can use a soldering iron.

More recently, with the advent of wireless computer networks based on the increasingly popular technology known as WiFi, yet another new subculture has emerged: people known as "war drivers" who drive around with wireless laptops equipped with powerful receivers hunting for private video from a home or picking up signals from hidden cameras illegally installed in rest rooms and changing rooms in dept stores. These videos are now all over the internet on porno sites that generate profits from membership fees.

"Frankly, a lot of it is kind of dull," and most of the women being surreptitiously observed are probably nannies, said Tom Shavley the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. The company that sells the cameras, X10 Wireless Technology Inc. of Seattle, was created in 1999 by an American subsidiary of X10 Ltd., a Hong Kong company. It is privately held and does not release sales figures. A spokesman said the company had no comment for this article.

Products designed for the consumer market rarely include strong security, said Tad Vanson the chief technology officer of Cigital, a software risk management company. That is because security costs money, and even pennies of added expense eat into profits. "When you're talking about a cheap thing that's consumer grade that you're supposed to sell lots and lots of copies of, that really matters," he said.

Refitting an X10 camera with encryption technology would be beyond the skills of most consumers. It is best for manufacturers to design security features into products from the start, because adding them after the fact is far more difficult, Mr. Vanson said “The X10 cameras are only the latest example of systems that are too insecure”

Note: The above article refers to Wireless frequency surveillance cameras. They are cameras that have NO wiring between the camera and the recording station. They send their video via the 2.4ghz radio transmission signal that is then picked up by the other half of the system, the receiver. The receiver needs to be hard wired to a recording device which can be either a VCR, DVR or for just live viewing a monitor. This 2.4 GHz signal is now susceptible to be intercepted by anyone.

The Safe Home Covert Camera presented on our site is an all-in-one unit. There is NO radio frequency used and all the stored video is on the hard drive of the unit. It can NOT be accessed by anyone other than the sole owner.

The Wilife/Logitech surveillance system is sometimes confused with true wireless technology because there are also no wires connecting the cameras to the PC that stores the video. The signal however is NOT sent via radio transmission. There are NO transmitters, receivers and there are NO 2.4 GHz signals associated with this system.

It uses new technology called “line carrier”. All the video is transmitted over the existing electrical wires at the location and transferred directly to the PC. The existing electrical wires in essence are acting as the “hard wiring” that would be present in a surveillance system where an installer “runs” actual wires from the cameras to the PC, DVR, VCR or monitor. All the recorded video stays on the existing electrical wires and can ONLY be decoded by the encrypted small transfer unit that “picks up” the video and feeds it directly to the PC at the same location. There are NO transmission signals that can be intercepted or picked up by anyone.

The technology allows Wilife/Logitech to have infinite encryption codes and each and every system regardless if their production is in the billions can NOT communicate with another system. This prevents one user intercepting video from a neighbor in the scenario of condominiums in the same building or other applications where two users with separate systems share the electric wiring.

Rest assured a Wilife/Logitech Surveillance System is safe and secure and only the owner or user can receive the video.

To be fair and balanced wireless surveillance system using the 2.4ghz might just be a quick solution if for instance you just wanted to monitor in live time a baby’s room while you’re sleeping. If in fact the only video is that of an infant in a crib and there is nothing else to identify the home or the location, if this video was picked up by somebody it would be either very boring or cute.

BUT and we do say BUT, you need to know what is really involved in setting up a wireless frequency camera system. Read what NONE of the manufacturers will advertise or ever tell you. Setting up one of these can sometimes be next to impossible and although errant signals can travel nearly a mile, it is sometimes nearly impossible to get a clear picture even in the very next room.

Notwithstanding the serious aforementioned security issues, setting up a wireless camera and getting it to simply work requires a lot more than the advertiser claims. If the threat of your private video being intercepted is not a concern than you should understand this second obstacle you’ll face. (before you waste your money on this junk)

Impossible 2.4Ghz Cameras
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