According to the FBI’s 2017 Crime Statistics Report, a burglary occurs every 23 seconds in the U.S. This adds up to 3,757 burglaries in a day. As of now, only 17% of U.S. households have been equipped with home security systems, but the numbers are expected to increase. While the installation of security systems can significantly decrease the chances of a break-in, it is also important to understand the type of data that is collected by home security agencies. vhomeinsurance analyzed the privacy policies of home security agencies to understand the data collected by them and present it to homeowners in a more user-friendly manner.
Home security agencies claim that information is collected from homeowners to provide better services to them. At the time of customer registration with home security companies, they request certain information from homeowners such as name, billing address, shipping address, contact details, and payment details. Also, when homeowners subscribe for monitoring service, the home security agencies request for some additional information such as the number of family members living in the household, safeword, and login credentials. They also request emergency contact information to alert the concerned person in case the alarm is triggered or in the event of any unusual activity.
Home security agencies can also collect data through the various devices installed in households. For example, a security camera is one of the primary security devices installed in homes. Additionally, home security agencies can collect audio recordings and video footage that are recorded by the security camera. Apart from this, home security companies can also collect data such as ambient light, temperature, and humidity from sensors installed in households.
When visiting the company website, some information about the users such as IP address, browser information, unique device identifier, name of ISP, and O.S. version will be collected automatically by the website. The considerable amount of personal information collected by home insurance companies raises the question of how far homeowners are willing to trade their privacy for security.
Households equipped with security systems lead to lower home insurance rates. A study conducted by the public university UNC Charlotte on habits and motivations of burglars revealed that 60% of burglars would change their minds had there been an alarm installed. The decrease in the possibility of a break-in encourages insurers to provide better discounts to homeowners.
While we can not deny the fact that security systems decrease the possibility of a break-in, they are not free from vulnerabilities. Automated home security systems are under risk from cyber-attacks, where hackers gain access to sensitive information such as credit card details, real-time audio recordings, and video footage. Home security companies themselves admit that they won’t be able to guarantee the security of the information collected by them.