Here’s Why You Should Be Concerned About Cameras in Robot Vacuums

Dashia Starr
Updated Aug 10, 2020
1 min read
Your robot vacuum camera may be picking up more information than you’d expect. Here’s what you need to know.

Robot vacuums are the perfect smart home gadgets to help us clean floors without the heavy-lifting of a traditional vacuum cleaner. Smart vacuums can clean and recharge on schedule while you handle other chores or just relax. 

But there are a few concerns about some of the features built into them, including cameras. Should we be concerned about what information this smart gadget is picking up besides dust and dirt? 

How is My Robot Vacuum’s Camera Used?

First off, not all robot vacuums are equipped with cameras. For those that do, the camera is used to map out your home and completely clean the floors. TakeiRobot’s iAdapt® Localization Camera for example. Like most robot vacuum cleaners, it does not record or store any videos for your safety and privacy. And iRobot doesn’t share images or videos with third parties. 

Keep in mind that some of iRobot’s vacuums have the ability to create a map of a cleaning job and store it on the Cloud for it to be available to the user via mobile app. This is only possible if you agree for your map data to be viewable. 

Can My Robot Vacuum Camera Be Hacked?

Yes. Any device connected to your home’s internet has the ability to be hacked if connected to your home’s Wi-Fi. Fortunately, it’s less likely that you’ll run into any issues with videos or images if they aren’t stored.

Unfortunately, using the features designed to help your vacuum clean better also means you could be in for more trouble. According to ZDNet, some robot vacuums have less strict privacy policies and security measures that can allow hackers to control your robot vacuum, get network information and have access to the footage as it cleans. Depending on your network settings, hackers might even be able to pinpoint your location. Many vacuum cleaners overlook encryption, privacy and authentication measures that make it easy for hackers.

Why You Should Be Careful: Trifo Ironpie M6

The Trifo Ironpie M6 doubles as a robot vacuum cleaner and security camera to offer extra surveillance. Owners can use the mobile app to check on your home from virtually anywhere and keep your floors clean using voice commands. 

However, there have been many security concerns about this smart gadget. Earlier this year, the vacuum’s camera was easily accessible through connected servers. Other hacking concerns were brought forth including network privacy and data leaks. As of now, there haven’t been any publicized updates since researchers brought these concerns to light. 

Robot Vacuum Data Sharing Concerns

Your vacuum’s data is equally as important as camera concerns. Some robot vacuum providers do store (and even sell) your data. You can contact the provider to request that the data is not shared. Some robot vacuums, such as Roomba, work without being connected to your home’s Internet. You’ll have a clean floor and no risk of data being gathered, stored or shared. And you’ll still have smart home features including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. 

Some data can still be collected and shared with the user if they’d like — including the cleaning duration, mapping or any errors encountered. The data is accessible through the mobile app, but check to make sure this data is only available to you and not being sold for other purposes. 

Robot Vacuum Security Tips

Don’t shy away from buying a robot vacuum just yet. There are ways to make sure your data and privacy are protected. Here are a few tips as you weigh the pros and cons. 

  • Before you invest in a robot vacuum check out the features and what the provider is doing to protect your data. Be mindful of any red flags including selling or storing data.

  • Most robot vacuums have cameras for mapping. Make sure you understand how the camera is used and whether any videos or images are stored or shared. 

  • Keep your robot vacuum’s app up to date to get all the latest security and privacy features that make your gadget safe and easy to use.

  • If you choose to sell or get rid of your robot vacuum, the best thing to do is a factory reset to erase any data or settings that may be stored. 

Home Security Writer

Dashia Starr

Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.

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