Privacy concerns these days center on freely-shared data--pictures and posts meant for friends and loved ones but collected for the benefit of marketers or fraudsters. Of all the scary things on the web, the old-fashioned internet creeper ranks pretty low. But hundreds of thousands of people have unsecured, internet-enabled cameras, allowing hackers and even casual voyeurs an unrestricted view into their daily lives.
To illustrate this point, online security outfit Uppersafe began an uncomfortably simple demonstration. Along with French agency Herezie Group, they spent a week secretly monitoring 20 webcams streamed on publicly available websites. They noted the needs and habits of unsuspecting homeowners and tracked their IP addresses to find out exactly where they lived. Then, in the spookiest act of altruism we've ever seen, they sent mail.
To a woman who struggled to plug in her phone, a longer cord. To a man who broke a glass, a replacement. A woman who ran out of ketchup received a refill. Each package met a need no one else could have known about, and only by calling a phone number on the box could recipients find out who had been watching them.
Of the 20 unwitting subjects, eight allowed their voiced and blurred faces to be used in the campaign. But all of them should be reexamining their firewalls.