12 December 2004

Hey, digicam manufacturers, give us some security!

beagleboysAlong with laptop computers and cellphones, digital cameras are surely one of the most stolen 'personal accessories'. Cellphones have IMEI numbers, SIM card locks and passwords. Computers have operating system passwords and BIOS level protection, and biometric security devices such as fingerprint scanners are currently coming onto the market. Laptops and cellphones are still stolen in vast numbers, probably because thieves know that most owners don't use the security features available, but at least owners are being offered options.

But what are digital camera manufacturers offering by way of security features? Absolutely nothing, it would seem. How hard would it be, as a bare minimum, to password protect the memory card? This would allow the camera to be used without interruption, but require a password when the camera is connected to a PC to download images or when the card is placed in a card reader. On more advanced cameras, biometric devices could surely be incorporated into the hand grips or shutter release buttons. Canon already has technology to automatically focus on your desired subject by monitoring your retina. Could this not easily be used as a security device?

I don't know the perfect answer here, but I have yet to hear anyone even asking the question. I'd be interested in your views, and I encourage you to contact your favourite digicam manufacturers and get them working on some solutions.

Of course, the best security is some sort of visual deterrent, so that thieves can tell from afar that stealing your equipment is more hassle than it's worth. You can already use such devices as Tracer Tags, which are very effective against loss, and probably somewhat effective against theft. In Australia you can also buy Data Dots which are virtually invisible microdots you put all over your equipment and register with the manufacturer. Stickers then warn would be thieves that the equipment is protected. But any such system is heavily dependent upon a third party staying in business and doing its job properly, which is an unknown.

So it's over to you manufacturers. Give us simple effective security, and a nice big non-removable sticker to tell the world and I won't have to hang on to my camera quite as hard each night.Go to eebahgum!

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