Why You Should—Or Shouldn’t—Buy A Home Security Camera
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Why You Should—Or Shouldn’t—Buy A Home Security Camera

How to protect your privacy and that of your neighbours by enabling encryption and other settings.

Mon, Aug 1, 2022 11:48amGrey Clock 4 min

When a thief emptied my mailbox a few years ago, I scoured the neighbourhood social network Nextdoor to see if it was part of a trend. My feed was full of video-doorbell footage, mostly of package pirates and wild parrots. I realised then just how many devices were likely recording my daily walk up and down the street.

Home surveillance cameras—from Ring, Nest, Arlo and others—are the eyes and ears of many neighbourhoods. Around 14% of U.S. households with broadband have installed an internet-connected camera, according to research firm Parks Associates. Their popularity has drawn the attention of law enforcement (not to mention hackers), which raises new issues for people looking to set one up.

They’re in demand in part because professional systems can cost hundreds of dollars to install, along with steep monthly fees. You can buy a smart camera for as low as US$50, pay around US$4 a month for cloud storage and get activity-based notifications on your phone.

Cameras are convenient for knowing when packages are delivered or when the dog walker drops off the pooch while you’re not around. But they capture sensitive data that’s sent from your home to company servers—and you should know how to protect your footage from being seen or shared without your permission.

Amazon.com Inc.-owned Ring gave surveillance footage to law enforcement 11 times this year without a warrant or customers’ consent. The company said the requests met its exception for emergencies. In the past, hackers with stolen credentials broke into Ring camera web portals and scared the living heck out of unsuspecting families with the devices’ two-way talk capabilities.

“Ring holds a high bar for itself and deeply scrutinizes each emergency request,” a spokeswoman said. The company might provide information to law enforcement when there is danger of death or serious physical injury, such as a kidnapping or attempted murder, she said. “These emergency requests are reviewed by trained professionals who disclose information only when that legal standard is met,” she added.

If you’re uncomfortable with a company making that determination, there are settings you can enable to prevent sharing, as well as platforms that make privacy the default. Here’s what you should think about when installing a smart surveillance camera.

End-to-End Encryption

When Ring, Google’s Nest or Arlo send footage from the camera to the company’s servers, that data is automatically encrypted. Translation: It’s protected if a hacker gains access to those servers.

However, the companies themselves can decrypt that data and—if legally or morally compelled—share it. A spokeswoman for Alphabet Inc.’s Google said that to date, the company has never given camera data to authorities without customer consent, but it reserves the right to do so if it considers a situation an emergency.

There is a method of protection, called end-to-end encryption, that would hide videos from both hackers and the companies. “It means that only your device, for example, your phone, can see the video that is recorded,” said David Choffnes, executive director of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute at Northeastern University.

End-to-end encryption, while recommended by Prof. Choffnes and others, isn’t always an option. Neither Google Nest nor Arlo offers the ability to fully encrypt camera videos. Ring has an opt-in setting for many products, but not its battery-powered models. A spokeswoman confirmed that Ring wouldn’t be able to decrypt such videos for law enforcement.

There are, however, trade-offs for turning on Ring’s end-to-end encryption. You can only view video on authorized mobile devices, not through your web browser. Some features are disabled, such as image previews within notifications and the ability to watch streams on other Amazon devices.

On Apple Inc.’s HomeKit Secure Video platform, end-to-end encryption is the default. The service requires an iCloud+ plan of 50GB or higher, though the videos won’t eat into your allotted storage. You need a home “hub” in the form of a HomePod, iPad or Apple TV. And, of course, everyone who wants access to the camera streams must use an Apple device.

There is a limited selection of HomeKit devices. I like Eve’s indoor cam for its slim profile, as well as Logitech International SA’s Circle View doorbell and camera for face recognition and outdoor use. Because all the footage flows through the Home app, it’s fine to mix and match brands.

Just remember that end-to-end encryption is only as secure as your devices. “If someone else can access your device or your passphrase—for example, a family member, or even law enforcement—they can see the videos,” said Prof. Choffnes.

Outdoor vs. Indoor

When you set up a camera outdoors, often mounted at the doorbell, see if it’s pointed at any area that would be considered a private space such as, for example, a neighbour’s bedroom. Generally, public roads and your own front porch are OK. Set up zones that only trigger recordings when someone enters that space. (RingGoogle NestArlo and HomeKit devices have this functionality.) Ring users can also set up privacy zones, which blackout areas from your camera’s field of view, so they aren’t recorded in videos.

Indoor cameras need slightly different considerations. Many people avoid putting them in bedrooms, for instance. These devices will be watching your personal spaces, so choose a brand with strong security and end-to-end encryption. Use activity zones and automation—such as only recording when you’re not at home or on a schedule—to limit the amount of footage collected.

Make sure you have a long, unique password and two-factor authentication protecting the camera account, as well as a strong passcode on your phone. With your login, hackers could watch and listen in on live video feeds of your home.

Let everyone in your household, including guests, babysitters and housekeepers, know there’s a camera around. (And, seriously, don’t be creepy about where you put it.)

You might already have a security device in your home if you have an Amazon Echo product. Microphones on Echo speakers are trained to recognize the sound of broken glass and smoke alarms. Echo Show devices with cameras can be live-streamed remotely.

To Post or Not to Post

Many brands let you clip recordings, which can then be posted to social media. Ring even has its own network, called Neighbours.

Even if you feel tempted to shame a person you suspect of wrongdoing, take a breath before sharing. It’s legal to record someone in public, where there is no expectation of privacy, according to law nonprofit New Media Rights. But the video could include landmarks that reveal where you live. And you should avoid situations leading to wrongful accusations or mistaken identity.

Ring has specific guidelines on what’s allowed on its Neighbors app. Sharing a video of a hit-and-run is OK. Posting footage of someone walking through an unfenced front yard isn’t.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 31, 2022.


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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.


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