Convicted: burglars busted by Cocoon

Two burglars have been convicted by Cocoon! Wearing balaclavas, the criminals broke into a home in Scotland unaware that it was protected by a Cocoon smart home security camera. Their movement triggered Cocoon to automatically record video, helping the police to identify and successfully prosecute them.

The family who were victims of the burglary are sharing their story in hope it will let others know the importance of having a home security system. To respect their wish to remain anonymous we will call them Mr and Mrs Smith.

Convicted by Cocoon

Mr Smith often works away from home for long periods. He bought a Cocoon for peace of mind, so he’d know his family were safe when he wasn’t there. It proved itself just before Christmas last year when Mr and Mrs Smith were in Tenerife enjoying a family holiday. Their home was broken into at night, and Cocoon caught it all on camera using its built-in night vision.

The burglars triggered Cocoon which sent notifications to both of their phones and recorded video of the unfolding events. Being on holiday, the couple weren’t checking their phones very often and missed the alerts – but Cocoon had their back. Automatically recording the break-in and saving it all in the Cocoon app. Mr and Mrs Smith could access all the video footage later, even though the thieves had cut their Cocoon’s cable!

On realising what had happened, the couple got in touch with the local police, sharing with them the HD video Cocoon had captured. Armed with video evidence, the police were able to identify the burglars and to bring criminal proceedings against them.

The court found them guilty. Which means Mr and Mrs Smith hope that soon they’ll have the stolen gadgets and jewellery, including a sentimental engagement ring, returned to them.

Feeling safe with Cocoon

Explaining what a relief it was that the burglars were brought to justice, the couple explained, “It’s all down to the video really,” said Mr Smith. “The video and audio Cocoon captured was amazing. Within a few hours, the police used the video to get a search warrant, which ultimately led to two convictions.”

Mrs Smith found the video too upsetting to watch but expressed how comforting it was knowing her home security worked. “It’s a really good thing we have Cocoon. When Mr Smith first suggested I said we didn’t need it, but I’m obviously now very glad we have it. Because of Cocoon, the police had so much evidence against the burglars.”

She continued, “if we hadn’t had Cocoon we wouldn’t have been able to get them arrested or to get our stuff back. The video’s so clear even though our house was dark, the police said: “thank god you had that”. It’s such a horrible experience, especially while away on holiday, I’m just so glad Cocoon was there.”

What if burglars cut the power?

We’ve designed Cocoon to look after your home even if thieves try to interfere with it. If armed it saves 30-second loops of HD footage, constantly recording over the previous 30 seconds. By burning over what’s not needed Cocoon protects your privacy, not storing the everyday goings-on in your empty home. If something triggers Cocoon to alert, it securely pushes the previous 30-seconds to the cloud while continuing to record the unfolding event. Giving you evidence from before the event happened. For example, imagine a thief peering through your window before attempting to break in? You would have their face caught on video and saved securely in the cloud ready for you to download in Cocoon’s mobile app.

The burglars did cut the cable on Mr and Mrs Smith’s Cocoon but, because of the 30 second pre-recording and secure cloud storage, Cocoon still provided plenty of video evidence for the criminal case. Capturing 30 seconds of video before the first attempt at a break-in, and continuing to record. When cutting Cocoon’s cable the burglar had to get very near to Cocoon’s HD camera, unwittingly giving the police a high definition close-up image of himself!

It’s for cases like this that we designed Cocoon to record in these 30-second loops. Safely storing video in the cloud for seven days, to easily download on your phone at no extra cost. With Cocoon, you’ll never miss an important moment.

Prevention and peace of mind

While we all hope not to ever need home security, the peace of mind it brings makes it a worthwhile investment. It can be confusing to choose the right system for you, our home security guide might help.

Whatever you choose, we recommend making it clear that you have home security installed on the outside of your property. When burglars break into a home they are calculating the odds of getting caught, having a visible security system will deter the majority of burglars. Every Cocoon comes with a window sticker for exactly this reason.

There are a small number of professional burglars who break into houses no matter what precautions are in place. When this is the case, a ringing alarm simply won’t cut it. Installing a security camera will give you a much better chance of helping the police to catch and prosecute these criminals. Video footage can get justice, and your stolen belongings returned to you.

As Mrs Smith said, “I’m just so glad Cocoon was there.”

 


 

Keeping your gadgets safe and secure

Most of us are now connected through our phones and gadgets from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. We’re constantly sharing personal data, so it’s important to be savvy and secure in how we use our gadgets.

It’s no use being over cautious, or the real value of the technology is lost – imagine being so worried about your phone being hacked, that you never use the messaging apps? Instead, it’s about being smart with your gadgets.

Technology is fun and useful but is also a portal into a huge amount of your personal data. Our security experts have compiled 5 simple tips for keeping your gadgets safe and secure.

Install the latest software and app updates

Don’t ignore the push notifications suggesting you update your phone software or the apps you have installed. If possible, set them to happen automatically in your phone settings.

They’re important, often containing vital security updates to protect your devices from the latest viruses and hackers. As viruses and hackers are always evolving, so must the technology you use. Last year’s apps will be nowhere near as secure as last week’s when it comes to keeping your data and devices safe.

Reputable companies like Cocoon regularly push updates to your devices and apps, these help ensure that you’re as well protected as possible. Cocoon’s team of security experts are frequently updating our technology, it ties to our mission of making it easy for you to feel safe. The updates aim to give you the same peace of mind that our home security device does.

Use new and robust passwords

We all know that having decent passwords is key to staying secure when using connected devices, phones and online services, yet many of us use the same password for everything. We’ve written about easy ways to make your passwords more secure before but the key thing is to avoid repeatedly using the same password, which is why we recommend using a password manager.

Two-factor authentication will really help to boost your online security too.

It is bad practice but some gadgets come with a default username and password. This is despite the fact it’s one of the leading points in the UK Government’s IoT security guidelines. It is important that you have unique passwords for your key accounts, including your bank accounts, email and connected home gadgets.

John Berthels, our Head of Software, says: “Default user/passwords on devices are a wide-open gate, defeating any other security you may have.  Attackers will work off lists of known user/password pairs, either logging straight in (after fingerprinting your device) or simply try them all.”

“Higher-quality devices (like Cocoon) won’t ship with default logins (or any logins at all!). Whenever you buy a new device you should check for this, always setting a strong password. You also need to check for this any time you reset a device.”

Secure your devices with a screen lock

Your phone is often the key to your data and other gadgets, so it’s important it stays secure. Screen locks provide an extra layer of security to your device. They mean that someone can’t pick it up and immediately have access, instead needing to enter a PIN, pattern, password or fingerprint.

While most modern multi-camera facial recognition systems are reasonably secure (requiring elaborate tricks to bypass them), the earlier systems found on some Android phones can be fooled with a simple photo of you. Something often found in the wallet you’ve lost along with your phone. John and Nick instead recommend using a fingerprint lock or pin code longer than 4 numbers. While not unbreakable, these methods are much harder to trick!

Be careful when using public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks pose an increased risk due to the fact anybody can use them, including hackers and criminals. Look out for duplicate hot-spots, particularly at airports, designed to trick you into connecting. If unsure, it’s always best to ask a member of staff what the official Wi-Fi address is. Wherever you are, if connecting to a public Wi-Fi, we recommend you avoid transferring any sensitive information (such as card details) while connected to public WiFi. If you’re just browsing a few simple things can keep you secure.

According to John, it’s not always easy to check if a site is secure. Modern browsers are getting better at making it easier, here are two key things he suggests you look out for:  

  1. “Be careful of HTTP websites, as any data you share on them could be intercepted. Check that every page on the sites you visit has a URL that opens with HTTPS. That “S” is important, it stands for secure. Most browsers illustrate this by showing a small padlock in the URL bar (see the image below).”
  2. “Is the site name what you expect? Does the website address show what you think it should? Be careful, anyone on the internet can set up a secure site, so you may be expecting “https://login.appple.com” but actually, be directed to “https://apple-login.badguy.com“. See the problem? Rogue Wi-Fi hotspots can also be set up to redirect you to similar but malicious websites. Whenever using an internet connection other than your own, double check URLs.”

https secure url in browser example

Nick Gregory, our Data Security Expert, also recommends “installing a low cost but trusted VPN (Virtual Private Network) app. This will give you a secure way to get online even if using a public WiFi spot. There are a few in-browser VPNs you can try too.” TechRadar has compiled a list of the best free VPNs, give them a try to browse safely on public WiFi

Delete old data and accounts

How often do you enter your details into a website or app when signing up or accessing something? That’s a lot of your data, all of which you’ve consented to share. With GDPR entering European law in May 2018, managing your data should get much easier. Even with GDPR it’s still worth keeping track of what is out there about you. You can then remove your information from sites you no longer use.

We recently discovered a smart tool to manage this. Deseat.me allows you to remove any data that’s old and you no longer want to share.

You can read all about deseatme, and how it deletes your old data, here.