Weird home security camera mix-up streams video to wrong person

swann smart security camera review facing right
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

A security slip-up with a home security camera sounds absurd, to say the least, but occasional reports of such happenings suggest the matter needs to be taken extremely seriously when it occurs.

An odd story out of the U.K. this week explains how a woman with such a camera started receiving live footage to her smartphone. But it wasn’t from her camera.

Instead of showing the interior of her home, the woman, Louisa Lewis, found herself looking at a family she didn’t know, in a kitchen she didn’t recognize. The voice of a child could also be heard off-camera, the BBC reported.

Lewis owns the Swann Smart Security Camera, a compact, wireless device for both indoor and outdoor use.

She said she’d been using the camera since last year and had had no issues with it until last weekend. According to Lewis, she was out of her home when she received an alert from the camera to her phone, suggesting the device’s motion sensor had been triggered.

She immediately realized the footage streaming to her phone wasn’t of her home and instead showed what appeared to be a family in their kitchen. She assumed it was a technical error and thought she could ignore it. But then several more alerts came through showing video of the same location.

Lewis contacted Swann to explain what was happening, but the company reportedly took two days before the erroneous streams were stopped.

Swann: ‘Human error’

A Swann spokeswoman told the BBC the issue was caused because two cameras had been made with the same “bank-grade security key, which secures all communications with its owner,” something the spokeswoman put down to “human error.”

She said it happened “after the [family] connected the duplicate camera to their network and ignored the warning prompt that notified: ‘Camera is already paired to an account,’ and left the camera running.”

The spokeswoman expressed regret that the matter hadn’t been dealt with more quickly, and said changes had been made for any future cases.

But most concerning of all, Swann said it was yet to identify the family so it could inform them of what had happened.

Swann has been in the business of security monitoring for 30 years and now runs a global operation. Its website features a large range of security systems alongside a slogan that says “Security made smarter.”

The company called the incident a “one-off,” but the BBC’s report notes a similar episode just last month when another owner of a Swann camera received footage from a pub that happened to be a short drive away. The recipient of the video told the pub owner about what had happened. Swann put the error down to both users registering their products with identical usernames and passwords, though the report claimed this not to be the case.

While we’ve heard in the past of smart monitoring devices being hacked, incidents where the feed simply turns up on the wrong device seem rare.

Swann told Digital Trends it’s been in contact with the affected customers “to sincerely apologize for the recording error that took place when using our security cameras. We acknowledge and regret the concern and inconvenience caused to all parties involved.”

It added: “We take the security and privacy of our customers very seriously and are taking corrective action while investigating this issue further as our highest priority.”

Updated on 29 July: Added statement from Swann.

Smart Home

4 small appliances that have changed the way we cook food (for the better)

These are exciting times for home cooks seeking to advance or simplify their technique in the kitchen, thanks in part to four small appliances that have made a splash in the past few years. Here’s why you should consider buying them.

Ready for his close-up: Another man was caught licking a Ring video doorbell

A man in Lake Worth, Florida was caught on film licking a family's video doorbell. This makes the second incident like this in just over a month, after another doorbell licker was caught in California.
Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.
Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.

Google might release a smartwatch and multiple Pixel phones in 2019

Google seems to have a lot planned for 2019. According to a report, Google is planning on releasing multiple new Pixel phones, a smartwatch, a new Google Home, and a Nest Security camera this year.
Smart Home

What exactly is Alexa? Where does she come from? And how does she work?

While "Alexa" has become synonymous with products like the Amazon Echo, you can't actually go out and buy an "Alexa." So what is Alexa? How does she work? Here's everything you need to know about Amazon's virtual assistant.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Clean up with these Presidents’ Day sales on washers and dryers

Clean up with these Presidents' Day weekend sales on washers and dryers. We picked the top washers and dryers from six major online merchants, but there are many more choices. Altogether the six sites have 920 washers and dryers on sale.
Product Review

Packed with features, the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired makes home security a breeze

With an integrated spotlight, crystal-clear video, and color night vision, this device makes home security a cinch. Here's why we like the Ring Spotlight Cam Wired as a great choice for outdoor home security.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.

KBIS 2019: LG adds Tovala’s meal platform to its array of smart oven add-ons

LG Electronics USA is launching new partnerships at KBIS 2019, including a new app integration into its smart ovens that will add Tovala's meal delivery and preparation platform. LG also features partnerships with SideChef, Innit, and Drop.
Smart Home

Amazon may be close to opening its first cashier-free store outside U.S.

Amazon could be on the verge of opening its first cashier-free store outside of the U.S. after a recent report claimed the company has secured retail space for a location in central London.

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…
Smart Home

Perlick brings a bigger, bolder version of its high-tech fridge to KBIS 2019

Milwaukee-based manufacturer Perlick has been making refrigerators for nearly 50 years. It will be unveiling a bigger, bolder version of its popular column refrigerator at KBIS 2019.