Comments

antibozoNovember 19, 2005 1:48 PM

I wonder where Dr Schneier's comes down on the use of fake surveillance cameras. Offhand, it seems to me that to the degree that cameras /might/ deter any crime, fake cameras would do as well, while they have no direct impact on privacy. On the other hand, each surveillance camera, real or not, inures people to the general surveilling ambience.

Bruce SchneierNovember 19, 2005 2:20 PM

"I wonder where Dr Schneier's comes down on the use of fake surveillance cameras."

Like any other security countermeasure, they have their uses. It's basically an economic consideration: if the security device is common, a fake one is just as good -- and cheaper -- than a real one. But if too many people use the fake, then the bad guys adapt.

This is true for fake cameras, fake burglar alarms, fake anti-shoplifting systems, etc.

I wrote about this in Beyond Fear.

jammitNovember 19, 2005 2:21 PM

@antibozo
While it's true that blinking LED's do deter crime, I believe the sheer number of fake cameras in the comic illustrates the over use of false security implementation.

PraveenNovember 19, 2005 9:18 PM

Schneier,

The cartoon was good, but can you give us your take on the fake security systems.

I think that it will prevent crime atleast to some extent.

Praveen

Bruce SchneierNovember 20, 2005 10:27 AM

"The cartoon was good, but can you give us your take on the fake security systems.

"I think that it will prevent crime atleast to some extent."

Well, they'll move crime around.

But sometimes that's okay. If you're a store owner, and you install a camera -- or a fake camera -- and the burglars rob the store next door, that's a win. If you're the local police, that's a waste of money.

Brian HurtNovember 20, 2005 2:02 PM

This isn't nearly as funny as it might be. A convience store I worked at many years ago (since closed and torn down) had done the same thing- they had a box with a lit LED and a lens that looked sort of like a security camera, except that it wasn't a camera (trust me, the guy running the store was way too cheap to pay for a real security camera- those things cost money!).

ProbitasNovember 21, 2005 10:13 AM

One thought on fake security cameras in the real estate arena is the liability that ensues when somone relied on the implied security, and then wants access to the tapes to solve some mystery/crime. "I only moved into this building/parked my car in this lot/rented this office because of all the security. You lured me into this with false promises of security."

Davi OttenheimerNovember 21, 2005 11:31 AM

Fake cameras are just a form of social engineering. They are a tool to shift behavior, rather than any true control (they can't actually prevent anything, and they certainly don't detect).

In fact, a big problem I have seen with fake cameras is that they are intentionally obtrusive and therefore have most of the undeseirable effects of surveillance systems (altered behavior can often mean resentment, restlessness, all leading up to extra time/cost to keep the innocent aprised of their rights) and virtually none of the desired effects. The cartoon expresses this sentiment, to some degree, as people almost instantly figure out that the cameras are fake -- very poorly (socially) engineered.

Personally, I always tell people cameras themselves have no preventive capability. They may fit into a form-factor that has a cultural or social effect on people, just like a giant sign that says "don't steal". I also say they may be used as a detective control so effectively that people learn not to take their chances, but they are not a preventive control...maybe you could say something like cameras don't stop crime, people do.

@ Bruce

I think it would be appreciated greatly if you mention when a link/thought is from a comment(ater). You usually give credit to people writing on other sites, why not give credit to those who write on yours?

"Posted by: Lowell Gilbert at November 18, 2005 08:47 AM"

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/11/...

Davi OttenheimerNovember 21, 2005 11:33 AM

"If you're a store owner, and you install a camera -- or a fake camera -- and the burglars rob the store next door, that's a win. If you're the local police, that's a waste of money."

Unless the camera provides information necessary to lead to a conviction, and then they are as useful as eye-witness accounts.

Bruce SchneierNovember 21, 2005 11:54 AM

"'If you're a store owner, and you install a camera -- or a fake camera -- and the burglars rob the store next door, that's a win. If you're the local police, that's a waste of money.'

"Unless the camera provides information necessary to lead to a conviction, and then they are as useful as eye-witness accounts."

I think you missed my point. If the burglars rob the store next door, there's no cameras providing any information leading to any conviction.

My point was that moving crime from store 1 to store 2 doesn't matter if you're concerned with the overall crime rate, but very important if you are the owner of store 1.

Davi OttenheimerNovember 21, 2005 12:12 PM

"If the burglars rob the store next door, there's no cameras providing any information leading to any conviction."

Maybe. Conviction is not always as swift or effective as we might like, due to trade-offs.

"My point was that moving crime from store 1 to store 2 doesn't matter if you're concerned with the overall crime rate, but very important if you are the owner of store 1."

True, unless store 1 has assets of higher value or assets that can cause greater residual harm than items in store 2. From an economic standpoint, even at the macro level, isn't it better to shift crime away from your most valuable assets and deal with it where the stakes are lowered?

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