Screw-up: Vivint Cloud Video

By: John Honovich, Published on Feb 11, 2013

Who can see your cloud stored video? For at least one Vivint customer, the answer is complete strangers. An ongoing concerns of cloud-based surveillance is privacy and security protections in place to prevent unauthorized viewing. In this note, we take a look at one example where 'remote video' went wrong, the questions it raised, and what alternatives avoid the problem.

Vivint's Mistake

The report below details the surprise a 'Vivint Video' customer experienced when he logged into his VSaaS account and reviewed video clips. Several of clips available for him to view were segments recorded by cameras from other user's accounts. See the video embedded below for more details:

This screen cap shows an example of the 'bug', consisting of another Vivint Video customer oblivious to the fact that others can see what his camera is recording:

In terms of mistakes, this gaffe ranks among the worst possible missteps a VSaaS provider can make. While the root cause of the problem appears to be technical and not malicious, the fact the event occurred at all indicates significant shortcomings in how Vivint's 'cloud' handles the video.

Widespread Problem?

In the clip, Vivint claims "this is the first time an event like this has been reported" and is investigating the issue in detail. Regardless of how widespread this particular issue proves, the customer detailed in the clip has been unnerved by the discovery, and lost confidence in Vivint's offering.

Adding insult to injury, the customer explains that he has repositioned his camera to disable their views, since Vivint "has locked him into a [service] contract" and he must "still pay for a security service he cannot trust". While unsatisfactory to most, this response is inline with both Vivint's sordid customer service reputation and the alarms industry in general that frequently requires multi-year monitoring contracts with punitive early termination penalties.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

VSaaS Risk

While 'hosted' service vendors downplay this situation from being possible with claims of 'bank-grade encryption' and 'accessible only by your password', it remains an inherent risk to most cloud-based platforms. As the situation above reveals, even password protected accounts and equipment can malfunction and allow 'your' video to be seen by others.

Aside from public-facing access, support engineers and administrators usually always have (and periodically may even require) visibility of recorded video and customer data. In terms of account support, troubleshooting, and maintenance having 'master access' means that no video data is 100% exempt from being viewed by others. Even when only a 'potential' issue, the risk of unauthorized viewing can be a deal breaker for VSaaS - often excluding it from high-security/surveillance applications.

Alternatives

Many customers choose to avoid the risk of situations like the above by simply avoiding VSaaS products. Others withhold serious consideration of the platforms until privacy and security of remote video can be absolutely assured - something that is not be possible. Until the time, we expect appliance based NVRs, VMS enabled NAS appliances, and small VMS servers to remain the preferred option for many end users. "Remote Accessibility" of video is becoming increasingly less difficult even with the full physical retention of all recorded video onsite.

Comments (15) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on VSaaS

Ivideon Russian VSaaS Profile on Jun 27, 2019
Ivideon was an early VSaaS entrant, initially focusing on the consumer market, claiming massive growth to IPVM in 2014. We spoke to Ivideon, to...
Directory of 60 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Startup Vaion Launching End-to-End AI Solution Backed with $20 Million Funding on Jun 17, 2019
An EU / USA video surveillance startup, Vaion, founded by ex-Cisco Senior Directors is launching an end-to-end VSaaS platform with $20 million in...
Directory of 30+ VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Jun 07, 2019
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers to help you see and research what options are available. 2019 State...
Startup Rhombus Systems Says Twice the Features, Half the Price of Verkada on Jun 04, 2019
Closed cloud systems may be the fastest growing segment of video surveillance with Meraki and Verkada. Now another California company is joining...
Alarm.com Favorability Results 2019 on Apr 15, 2019
The once dot com startup has evolved to become a core provider for home security and is now expanding into commercial. In their first entry in...
ISC West 2019 Report on Apr 12, 2019
The IPVM team has finished at the Sands looking at what companies are offering and how they are changing their positioning. See below for 50+...
Qognify Dropping Seetec and OnSSI Brands on Mar 01, 2019
Qognify is dropping both the Seetec and OnSSI brands, just over 2 months after acquiring OnSSI / Seetec and a week after sweeping cuts to the...
Solink Raises $12 Million - Company Profile on Feb 12, 2019
Most industry professionals have never heard of Solink, a company whose tagline is: It's time to revolutionize the way business uses...
Barnes Buchanan 2019: Despite 'Strange Narrative' Great Time To Be In Security on Feb 11, 2019
A "strange narrative" is being spun, said Michael Barnes at the 2019 Barnes Buchanan Conference. However, despite that narrative, it is a "great...

Most Recent Industry Reports

History of Video Surveillance on Jul 19, 2019
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going from VCRs to emerging into an AI cloud era.  The goal of this history...
Mobile Access Usage Statistics 2019 on Jul 18, 2019
The ability to use mobile phones as access credentials is one of the biggest trends in a market that historically has been slow in adopting new...
New GDPR Guidelines for Video Surveillance Examined on Jul 18, 2019
The highest-level EU data protection authority has issued a new series of provisional video surveillance guidelines. While GDPR has been in...
Wyze AI Analytics Tested - Beats Axis and Hikvision on Jul 17, 2019
$20 camera disruptor Wyze has released free person detection deep learning analytics to all of their users, claiming users will "Only get notified...
Anyvision Aims For 2022 Revenue of $1 Billion on Jul 17, 2019
Only 3 video surveillance manufacturers do a billion dollars or more in annual revenue - Hikvision, Dahua, and Axis. Now, Anyvision plans to join...
HD Analog vs IP Guide on Jul 16, 2019
For years, HD resolution and single cable signal/power were IP camera advantages, with analog cameras limited to much lower resolution and...
How To Troubleshoot Wiegand Reader Problems - Inverted Wiring on Jul 16, 2019
Wiegand is the dominant method of connecting access readers, but problems can arise for installers. In fact, one of the most difficult reader...
ZeroEyes Gun Detection Startup on Jul 16, 2019
A gun detection video analytics startup, ZeroEyes, is being led by a group of 6 former Navy SEALs, aiming to "save lives" by using AI to assist...
Motorola Acquires Watchguard, Adds to Vigilant And Avigilon on Jul 15, 2019
2 years ago, Motorola had no position nor relevancy to video surveillance. Now, they own major video surveillance, LPR and body camera providers...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Jul 15, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact