Privacy-Preserving Cameras: New Tech for Home Security –

Smart cameras are everywhere today, from robot vacuum cleaners to baby monitors, smart fridges, and home security systems. While these cameras offer much convenience, they pose a risk to the privacy of users.

In response to rising concerns about the safety of smart cameras, researchers from two Australian universities are collaborating to develop a new type of smart camera that scrambles footage to protect users’ privacy.

How does this work? And can these new cameras protect your privacy at home?

How Smart Cameras Put Your Privacy at Risk

Whether you’re aware of it or not, smart devices at home can put your privacy at risk. You might not think a smart fridge or baby monitor infringes upon your privacy, but since it’s connected to the internet, hackers can target these devices to access valuable private information.

Take surveillance cameras, for example; what happens if recorded footage from your home ends up in the wrong hands? We’ve seen this happen already. In July 2023, NordVPN found a website illegally streaming footage from over 1600 home security cameras without their owners’ knowledge or consent.

To counter this threat, researchers from the University of Sydney and the Queensland University of Technology are developing a new type of camera that processes and scrambles camera footage before it can be hacked.

As a result, cybercriminals won’t get to watch your children sleep or steal personal information from hacking smart devices in your home. The new technology could improve privacy and security in schools, airports, hospitals, and other places.

Privacy-preserving cameras that distort images

Robots and many smart devices in our homes don’t need to see a “full” image to execute their tasks. In most cases, they can do their job just as well using distorted imagery — color and pattern recognition is enough.

Previous attempts at obscuring images have not been successful in fully protecting people’s privacy, as malicious actors were still able to reconstruct the images. Now, by segmenting the processing within the camera itself, researchers have managed to stay one step ahead of attackers.

The research team, who published their findings in the Journal of Responsible Technology in March, claim they’ve tried to hack the cameras themselves and could not reconstruct the footage. To fully verify this, they’ve invited the cybersecurity community to try to do the same.

How to Improve the Security of Your Smart Devices

There are a few ways you can optimize the security of the smart devices at your home, even without robotic privacy-preserving cameras. Here are a few tips:

  • Set up a VPN on your router: All smart devices in your house are connected to the same network. Installing a VPN on your router will encrypt all traffic on this network, making it much more difficult for cybercriminals to hack your system.  
  • Review privacy settings: You can improve the safety of your home security system by reviewing the privacy settings of these devices and ensuring they have the latest security updates.
  • Invest in a full security suite: We recommend getting a full security suite to limit the chances of falling victim to cybercriminals. A security suite comes with many benefits, including secure cloud storage (for recorded footage) and antivirus (to block malware).

Surfshark has a fantastic security suite and a top VPN that you can easily install on a router. Have a look at the Surfshark website to learn more and get a free trial to test the service hands-on.

We’ll keep you posted on any developments regarding privacy-preserving cameras!


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