Cyber criminals can work out if people are away from home by examining information transmitted over Wi-Fi by home security cameras, say scientists.
Internet-connected security cameras that track potential burglars, such as Google‘s Nest Cam and Amazon’s Ring range, can be interfered with by attackers.
These devices, which are becoming an increasingly common feature of people’s homes, generate huge amounts of hackable personal data.
UK and Chinese researchers got access to a data set of smart home camera uploads from an undisclosed device maker.
They found online traffic generated by the cameras, which are often triggered by motion, could be monitored and used to predict when a house is occupied or not.
A lack of traffic throughout a working day could indicate that a homeowner is out, for example, leaving the home vulnerable to a burglary if linked with address data.
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Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Queen Mary University of London tested if an attacker could infer privacy-compromising information about a camera’s owner from simply from tracking the uploaded data passively without inspecting any of the video content itself
IP home security cameras are internet-connected and can be installed in homes. Many have the ability for owners to remotely monitor them online via a Wi-Fi link.
This connection — and when it is activated — can be hijacked by hackers, even if the content of the videos is encrypted.
These cameras are growing in popularity and the global market is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2023.
‘Once considered a luxury item, these cameras are now commonplace in homes worldwide,’ said Dr Gareth Tyson, a senior lecturer of internet data science at Queen Mary University of London, who worked with researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
‘As they become more ubiquitous, it is important to continue to study their activities and potential privacy risks.
‘Whilst numerous studies have looked at online video streaming, such as YouTube and Netflix, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study which looks in detail at video streaming traffic generated by these cameras and quantifies the risks associated with them.
‘By understanding these risks, we can now look to propose ways to minimise the risks and protect user privacy.’
The researchers even found that future activity in the house could be predicted based on past traffic generated by the camera, which could leave users more at risk of burglary by discovering when the house it unoccupied
WHAT IS THE INTERNET OF THINGS?
Although the term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) first appeared in 2005, there is still no widely accepted definition.
The term generally describes a concept where normal everyday objects that are becoming connected to the internet.
IoT includes gadgets bought by consumers, as well as products and services designed for businesses to help machines ‘communicate’ with each other.
Nearly anything can be turned into an IoT device—from watches to fridges and lightbulbs.
The majority of internet traffic is now video, dominated by the likes of Netflix, YouTube and live e-sports service Twitch, the researchers say.
However, the advent of low-cost internet-enabled cameras has resulted in ‘the arrival of a rather different type of video streaming service’.
While Internet of Things (IoT) home security cameras were once considered a luxury, they have since entered the mainstream and brought fresh privacy and security concerns with them.
Home security cameras follow an on-demand model, where video is only streamed when a user requests it, or when motion is observed.
Researchers used data from a ‘major’ home internet protocol (IP) security camera provider, which the team wouldn’t disclose to MailOnline.
‘We signed an NDA [non-disclosure agreement] when analysing their data,’ Dr Tyson said.
‘Basically, this company shared data allowing us to characterise the scale of the problem across hundreds of thousands of users.’
The data set covered 15.4 million streams from 211,000 active users and contained a mix of free and premium users.
Internet-connected security cameras to track potential burglars, such as Google’s Nest Cam and Amazon’s Ring range, can be interfered with by attackers
Assuming the role of the attacker, the scientists evaluated the potential privacy risks for users of the increasingly popular security devices.
Researchers tested if a real-life attacker could gather privacy-compromising information about a camera’s owner from simply tracking the uploaded data passively without inspecting any of the video content itself.
TIPS FOR SMART HOME CAMERA USERS
Change any passwords: Many wireless cameras have weak default passwords, such as ‘admin’.
Set a secure password connecting three random words that you’ll be able to remember.
Keep your camera updated: Not only does this keep your devices secure, but it often adds new features and other improvements.
If in doubt, unplug it or turn it off: No one wants to have to worry about someone snooping in on their home, so deactivate the camera if you’re at all concerned.
If you do not use the feature that lets you remotely access the camera from the internet, it is recommended you disable it.
Attackers could detect when the camera was uploading motion and even distinguish between certain types of motion, such as sitting or running, they found.
This was done without inspecting the video content itself but, by looking at the rate at which cameras uploaded data via the internet.
Scientists even discovered that future activity in the house could be predicted based on past traffic generated by the camera, which could leave users more at risk of burglary by discovering when the house is unoccupied.
An attacker with access to this ‘passive network data’ may be able to infer the camera owner’s household activity by inspecting home security camera traffic.
For example, a camera consistently uploading motion-triggered video at 6pm might indicate that family members arrive home at that time.
The team found that premium users are more vulnerable to privacy risks due to their heavier usage and the exclusive availability of the motion detection mode, which was not available for normal users.
‘Home security cameras have become a commodity which will likely increase in usage,’ the researchers conclude in their report.
‘As they are often placed in intimate locations, it is important we continue to investigate their activities and potential risks.’
The findings are being presented at the virtual IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications this week.
According to Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, smart home camera firms should implement their own layered controls to ensure that IoT devices aren’t accessible from the public internet.
Consumers, meanwhile, can ‘harden’ them where possible by changing default passwords.
Consumers should also review whether all of their IoT devices are essential or simply ‘nice to haves’.
‘It could be the difference between suffering a security incident or not,’ Malik told MailOnline.
Boris Cipot, senior security engineer at Synopsys, said there is currently no standard around the minimum data security and access requirements that IoT devices need to satisfy before they hit the shops.
‘While the users do need to be encouraged in configuring security settings based on their risk appetite, users cannot be expected to be security experts,’ Cipot told MailOnline.
‘Responsibility ultimately falls to device manufacturers who must provide devices that don’t require users to actively configure their devices to be secure.’
WHICH SMART HOUSEHOLD GADGETS ARE VULNERABLE TO CYBER ATTACKS?
From devices that order our groceries to smart toys that speak to our children, high-tech home gadgets are no longer the stuff of science fiction.
But even as they transform our lives, they put families at risk from criminal hackers taking advantage of security flaws to gain virtual access to homes.
A June 2017 Which? study tested whether popular smart gadgets and appliances, including wireless cameras, a smart padlock and a children’s Bluetooth toy, could stand up to a possible hack.
The survey of 15 devices found that eight were vulnerable to hacking via the internet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections.
Scary: Which? said ethical hackers broke into the CloudPets toy and made it play its own voice messages. They said any stranger could use the method to speak to children from outside
The test found that the Fredi Megapix home CCTV camera system operated over the internet using a default administrator account without a password, and Which? found thousands of similar cameras available for anyone to watch the live feed over the internet.
The watchdog said that a hacker could even pan and tilt the cameras to monitor activity in the house.
SureCloud hacked the CloudPets stuffed toy, which allows family and friends to send messages to a child via Bluetooth and made it play its own voice messages.
Which? said it contacted the manufacturers of eight affected products to alert them to flaws as part of the investigation, with the majority updating their software and security.
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Average worker gets ‘career burnout’ at age 32 – and 59% say they do MORE hours working from home
Long hours, extra work and the feeling of having to ‘always be on’ are making people experience career burnout by an early age of 32, a new survey reveals.
Approximately 59 percent of the respondents blamed it on working long of hours, noting the increase started when they transitioned to remote employment due to coronavirus lockdowns – some have worked an extra 59 hours in five months.
Other responses include not taking enough days off, pressure to complete more tasks and just under half of the participants dealing with burnout have quit their job because of the exhaustion.
However, the survey found that those who fall in Generation Z are already worn down because of the ‘always on’ work culture.
Long hours, extra work and the feeling of having to ‘always be on’ are making people experience career burnout by an early age of 32, a new survey reveals
The study, commissioned by The Office Group, asked 2,000 people about their feelings towards work and what factors may play into their exhaustion.
The results show that a majority are burnout – and the average is the young age of 32.
Previous research has shown that the feeling typically starts around 35 and peaks when an individual is in their 50s – but this was before millions of Americans began working from home.
The coronavirus started making its way through the US earlier this year and by April many had transitioned from the office to their homes – and the new survey reveals it has taken a toll on some.
Approximately 58 percent of the respondents blamed it on working long of hours, noting the increase started when they transitioned to remote employment due to coronavirus lockdowns – some have worked an extra 59 hours in five months
Approximately 59 percent of respondents said they are putting in more hours now than before the lockdown and one in three blamed their exhaustion on the stay-at-home protocol, StudyFinds reports.
When asked to give details about why this time has been difficult, 31 percent reported feeling obligated to burn the night oil since their office is now home.
There was also 27 percent who said they miss the socializing with colleagues.
Dr. Sarah Vohra said: ‘With almost a third of people saying lockdown has brought them closer to burnout, there is no question the pandemic has greatly impacted the nation’s collective mental health.’
‘Companies must put defenses in place and guard against elements which might cause stress and anxiety, and looking forward, they must make robust changes to ensure employees are protected, particularly during times of uncertainty.’
Along with working more hours, 39 percent of respondents blamed their exhaustion on not taking enough days off and 47 percent said the feeling stems from always having to be “on” while working.
What may come a surprise to some is that just under half of the participants said they have recently quit their job because they have been battling with burnout.
What are common signs of burnout and how can you treat it?
Burnout is a feeling of complete exhaustion and can make you withdraw from other people and develop a cynical attitude – especially towards your work.
Burnout can cause you to delay tasks that would have once been easy. In severe cases, burnout might make it hard for you to function at all.
When you’ve reached the point of burnout, it’s probably going to take more than a few new holes to fix the issue. You may need to take significant steps to reduce the amount of stress you’re facing and also draw on support from other people, including health professionals.
The Beyond Blue Support Service can help point you in the right direction. For other specific ways to cope with stresses at work, check out our Heads Up website.
You can find support services and advice for healthy ways to cope with stress here.
Source: Beyond Blue
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Orphaned chimpanzees are found to face lifelong setbacks, study reveals
A new report suggests that chimpanzees who lose their mother can face lifelong setbacks.
Scientists studying chimps in Ivory Coast’s Taї National Park found that male infants who lost their mothers, even as juveniles, had fewer offspring and were less competitive as adults.
Chimpanzees are raised almost exclusively by their mothers and stay with them until they are teenagers, a rarity in the animal world.
The researchers believe that, even when offspring are old enough to take care of basic necessities themselves, their mothers are still teaching them advanced foraging techniques and social skills necessary to thrive.
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A new study suggests orphaned chimpanzees face lifelong setbacks, even if they were juveniles when they lost their mothers. Researchers believe chimps learn advanced foraging techniques and social skills well into their teen years
A team with the Taï Chimpanzee Project and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology kept full demographic records and collected fecal samples to determine paternity on members of three distinct communities for more than 30 years.
They found that male orphans still failed to thrive even if they lost their mother when they were juveniles.
The team, whose work was published in Science Advances, believe mother chimps teach their young valuable lessons into adolescence.
They may know where to find the best food, said lead author Catherine Crockford, ‘and how to use tools to extract hidden and very nutritious foods, like insects, honey and nuts.’
Studying several communities of chimps in Ivory Coast’s Taї National Park for more than 30 years, the scientists found that male orphans had fewer offspring and were less competitive as adults
Access to more nutritious food may be why chimps and other great apes have relatively larger brains than other primates.
WHO’S SMARTER, A CHILD OR A CHIMP?
Most children surpass the intelligence levels of chimpanzees before they reach four years old.
A study conducted by Australian researchers in June 2017 tested children for foresight, which is said to distinguish humans from animals.
The experiment saw researchers drop a grape through the top of a vertical plastic Y-tube.
They then monitored the reactions of a child and chimpanzee in their efforts to grab the grape at the other end, before it hit the floor.
Because there were two possible ways the grape could exit the pipe, researchers looked at the strategies the children and chimpanzees used to predict where the grape would go.
The apes and the two-year-olds only covered a single hole with their hands when tested.
But by four years of age, the children had developed to a level where they knew how to forecast the outcome.
They covered the holes with both hands, catching whatever was dropped through every time.
‘Offspring gradually learn these skills through their infant and juvenile years,’ Crockford said.
‘We can speculate that one reason offspring continue to travel and feed close to their mothers every day until they are teenagers, is that watching their mothers helps them to learn.’
Co-author Roman Wittig speculates mothers might be passing on social skills rather than survival tips.
‘Again a bit like humans, chimpanzees live in a complex social world of alliances and competition. It might be that they learn through watching their mothers when to build alliances and when to fight.’
There is good news for orphaned chimps, though.
In January another study from the Planck Institute found more than a dozen orphaned chimpanzees in the Tai Forest had been adopted by unrelated members of their community.
Both males and females devoted large amounts of time and resources to protecting the young, seemingly in a show of chimpanzee altruism.
‘Some adoptions of orphans by unrelated adults lasted for years and imply extensive care towards the orphans,’ Planck Institute researcher Christophe Boesch told Live Science.
‘This includes being permanently associated with the orphan, waiting for it during travel, providing protection in conflicts and sharing food with the orphan.’
Boesch said he was particularly surprised to see males involved in rearing the adopted infants, since parenting is the purview of females.
‘Some of these adult males go really far in adopting a motherly role, carrying the baby on their back, sharing a nest, helping babies to climb trees, really caring a lot.’
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Coronavirus: Alarming video reveals virus-laden particles created by singing
Researchers in Australia believe singing, especially in a choir, could spread coronavirus via airborne droplets.
The findings come from a slow-motion video with special LED lighting which shows how otherwise invisible particles shoot from the mouth of a singer.
During an experiment, a person was asked to sing a popular scale and some sounds, such as ‘do’, ‘fa’ and ‘ti’, forced particles out at up to six metres a second (13 mph).
More than half of droplets produced by coughing travel at this speed, or faster, while only 15 per cent of particles created by talking travel at this pace.
Researchers suggest that extra precautions should be taken to mitigate against the extra dangers posed by group singing.
This includes rehearsals with fewer people, wearing face coverings while singing and extreme social distancing.
During an experiment, a person was asked to sing a popular scale and some sounds, such as ‘do’, ‘fa’ and ‘ti’, forced particles out at up to six metres a second (13 mph)
A recent piece of research found the amount of particles produced is the same, but did not account for speed.
This finding led researchers to believe singing was just as risky as talking, but the new research indicates singing poses extra risks.
For example, the quantity of particles produced when singing could saturate the air inside a room, making social distancing pointless.
A study from the university of New South Wales, Sydney, found the majority of particles produced during singing travel at less than 0.5 m/s.
However, they are spewed in all directions and are likely to not settle and drift on air currents.
In a room with air conditioning or a fan this would see the infectious particles stay airborne for long periods of time, travelling vast distances.
For the study, the singer remained at a relatively subdued sound range of between 66 and 72 decibels.
Singing in a choir has been heavily linked to previous superspreader events. Outbreaks at choirs in Berlin, Amsterdam and Washington were so severe that 75.6 per cent, 78.5 per cent and 86.9 per cent of people in attendance tested positive for COVID-19, respectively (stock)
Researchers in Australia believe singing, especially in a choir, could spread coronavirus via airborne droplets. The findings come from a slow-motion video with LED lighting which shows how invisible particles shoot from the mouth of a singer (pictured, diagram of the set-up)
‘It is also worth noting that some degree of variability is expected in the number of droplets expelled between different individuals, and due to other parameters, such as loudness, notes, consonants, and duration of each note sung,’ the researchers say in the study, published today in Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Singing in a choir has been heavily linked to previous superspreader events.
Outbreaks at choirs in Berlin, Amsterdam and Washington were so severe that 75.6 per cent, 78.5 per cent and 86.9 per cent of people in attendance tested positive for COVID-19, respectively.
‘The data presented combined with high infection rate among the choir members points towards the possibility of airborne spread of COVID-19 during singing events,’ the researchers write.
The study is the latest in a string of scientific papers investigating the danger singing poses in regard to the transmission of Covid-19.
Researchers at Lund University, Sweden studied the amount of particles emitted when we sing and found loud and consonant-rich tunes, such as Happy Birthday, spread a lot droplets into the surrounding air.
SAGE WARNED GOVERNMENT ABOUT SINGING DURING CRISIS
The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) earmarked live musical performances and choirs were one of the more risky events for Covid.
This was why music venues, indoor theatres and concerts were the very last amenities to reopen following lockdown.
In a report submitted sometime in June, SAGE said it had reviewed a number of international studies and found evidence to suggest that singing can produce more aerosols, or droplet nuclei, than normal talking or breathing.
Covid-19 is spread through respiratory secretions, which can take the form of large droplets or smaller aerosols.
These are either inhaled directly or transferred by the hands from surfaces where they have been deposited.
The document says that the smaller the particle, the further it can advance into the respiratory tract.
The authors said: ‘There exists some evidence to suggest that singing can produce more aerosols than normal talking or breathing; it may be more akin to a cough.
‘Singing for any appreciable amount of time therefore may present a risk for the creation of infectious aerosols and allow for infection transmission.’
The authors added: ”Therefore, at the present time the safest way for groups to sing together is to i) sing outside, ii) use the 2m rule to socially distance and iii) avoid face-to-face positioning.’
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