Surveillance camera flaw gives woman live feed... into someone else's flat
Woman looking to monitor child and domestic helper gets live feed into another family's flat
A mother was shocked last week when she checked a surveillance camera set up in her home to watch her toddler and domestic helper - and discovered a live feed from a stranger's living room.
Now Anna - not her real name - fears more Hongkongers could fall victim to the mysterious security flaw. She also hopes the family whose flat she has been given unwitting access to will recognise their home in media reports and take down the camera.
Anna bought two Neo Coolcam cameras, costing HK$390 each, from the Golden Computer Accessories shop in Wan Chai a year ago. She stopped using them for a time, but set them up again a few months ago.
Four days ago, she logged onto the iPhone application on which she views the footage. But instead of seeing her daughter and the family's helper, she saw the flat of what appeared to be a Hong Kong family. "It was so strange," Anna said yesterday at her Tseung Kwan O home. She disconnected the camera in her flat, but the smartphone application continues to show live footage from the other flat.
"I went onto the HK Mums Facebook page and posted about it because many parents use these cameras," Anna said.
"I am scared that maybe someone could see my home before. I can zoom into the room, move the camera's angle, record the footage and take photos. It is dangerous because someone could take advantage of this."
When the Sunday Morning Post visited her yesterday, live footage of the stranger's home showed a Cantonese-speaking man, while the sounds of cooking could be heard.
Anna had previously seen a dog, possibly a poodle, in the flat.
She said she had not reported the matter to police, but hoped the family might recognise themselves in media reports.
"I saw what I think was a mother and her son having lunch. I could talk to them through the camera's microphone but I don't want to freak them out," she said.
Chan Kai-cheung, manager of the shop where the cameras were bought, said he had not heard of such a problem before.
They no longer stocked the items because the servers were unreliable, he said, adding that Anna's situation could be due to server security problems.
Professor Andrew Adams, an information ethics expert at Meiji University in Tokyo, said Anna's case showed the dangers of using an app to view a video camera.
Leung Siu-cheong, senior consultant to the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team, advised people not to use a default username or password when using such apps.