A Mixup Let a Stranger Watch a Woman Through Her Security Cameras

Shelan Faith got a "terrifying" letter warning her that a stranger could see her, her child's room, and people ringing her doorbell through her home security cameras.

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Sep 6 2018, 4:15pm

Image: Shutterstock

Shelan Faith, a woman living in Canada, had two security cameras installed in her home: one to keep an eye on her front door, and one in her infant’s bedroom. In late August, she received a letter from a stranger describing the inside of her child’s room, her own physical appearance, and the appearances of people who had rung her doorbell.

"I don't think I stopped shaking for days… just to know that somebody could see into my home or access my home,” Faith told the CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster.

The incident sounds like something out of a thriller film, but the “terrifying” letter, as Faith described it to the CBC, wasn’t intended to be malicious. It was sent by another customer of Utah-based security firm Vivint—the company that installed her cameras and operates the platform they run on—to warn her.

According to the stranger (who was not named in the CBC report), when they logged into their own Vivint account, they were able to access Faith’s cameras. The stranger claims they tried to get Vivint to correct the issue before writing to Faith, but the company did not respond. The company told the CBC that it only heard of the issue when Faith reached out.

According to Vivint, the security issue was “human error” caused by an installation technician who used their own email address to set up a system for a customer who didn’t have one. It’s unclear how this all worked, but somehow, according to the CBC, the two systems were connected when the installer went to their next job.

Vivint customers also complained that they could spy on fellow customers in 2012, and the company told the CBC this was due to the outsourced tech platform they used at the time and moved away from in 2014. According to Faith, Vivint initially asked her to pay thousands of dollars in fees to disconnect her service, but it eventually did so free of charge.

There are better ways to alert a neighbour to a security concern than recreating a scene from Caché, but the warning prompted Faith to take down the cameras.

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