In-Home Delivery: What Are the Risks?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 by under Cameras, IoT (Internet of Things), Lifestyle, Personal Safety, Security

Would you let a stranger drop off packages inside your home while you were away? Companies like Wal-Mart and Amazon now allow couriers to open your front door and put purchases directly inside your home.

Read along for the benefits and risks associated with in-home delivery.

How Does In-Home Delivery Work?

To understand how in-home delivery works, let’s look at Amazon Key, which was launched last year, as an example. Using a unique Amazon camera called the Cloud Cam and an Amazon-compatible smart lock, Prime members in select cities now have access to in-home delivery. Here’s the step-by-step process:

  • Once Prime members have signed up for the Amazon Key kit, they can either install the system themselves or utilize Amazon’s free installation service.
  • After the kit is installed, users can select “FREE in-home delivery” during the checkout process for any order.
  • On delivery day, users receive notifications in the morning and right before the package arrives to inform them of when their packages are expected.
  • The courier will knock on the homeowner’s door first, and then request access.
  • To request home access, the courier scans a barcode on the package that sends a signal to Amazon for delivery verification.
  • Amazon reviews the credentials, and sends a signal to the Cloud Cam to record.
  • The courier then accepts a prompt on his or her app to access the home.
  • The package is dropped off inside, and the courier shuts and locks the door.
  • Once Amazon verifies the door is locked, the user receives a notification with a short video of the delivery.

Wal-Mart’s program, which delivers groceries straight to your fridge, follows a similar   process as Amazon. The only difference is the brand of smart locks and cameras used.

Is In-Home Delivery Safe?

In-home delivery services like these are convenient, but are they safe? Amazon claims the internet-enabled Cloud Cam reinforces the service’s safety by allowing customers to monitor the delivery in real-time. However, security researchers proved there is a way to disarm the system. Here’s how it works:

  • The courier obtains access through the app like they would for a routine delivery.
  • Instead of relocking the door upon exit, he or she runs a laptop program that hacks into the customer’s router and disconnects the camera from the network.
  • With the camera disabled, the viewer receives a frozen image of the closed door.

Although Amazon says they notify the customer if the camera is offline for a significant amount of time, they are still working on a software update to fix the issue. The same hack can be applied to Wal-Mart’s system.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

If you do choose an in-home delivery service, we recommend installing back-up security cameras that you can monitor in the event the delivery service’s cameras are hacked.

Although providers claim couriers are “thoroughly vetted,” you can never be too cautious when it comes to your family’s safety.

Remember, you can always opt out of the service if it makes you uncomfortable.

How do you avoid in-home delivery risks? Share in the comments below.

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