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Do you ever feel like someone’s watching you? In our technology-driven world, we use security cameras in our homes and businesses to help us maintain a proper level of security and keep an eye on what’s happening around the clock.
At home, these cameras don’t just play an integral role in security; they also keep us connected to our family members and pets when we’re away.
While security cameras make us feel connected and safe, what happens when we’re not the ones watching? What happens if a hacker gets into your system? It’s essential to understand how hackers can breach your cameras and how to protect yourself.
- How Do Hackers Get In?
- What Can Hackers Do With Your Cameras?
- The Additional Risk Of WiFi (IP Cameras)
- How To Know If Your Camera Has Been Hacked
- Camera Brands With A Poor Security Reputation
- How To Protect Your Security Camera From Being Hacked
- 5 Ways To Protect Yourself
- When Hackers Violate Security Camera Users
- How To Protect Your Identity
There are a few ways that hackers can get into your home security cameras.
Credential stuffing is when hackers use your personal information, typically from a large data breach, to gain access to your cameras. Hackers openly share this information online with each other and then use large scale automated login requests to find usernames, email addresses, and passwords that will work. It’s the most common way hackers get into security cameras, and you’re most vulnerable when you use one password for multiple sites.
Hackers can also breach your cameras through targeted credential cracking attacks, where a hacker tries to get into a specific home or business using personal information to guess user names and passwords. This type of hacking, however, is much less common with home security cameras.
Once they gain access to your security camera, hackers can see everything you can see. If you have pan, tilt and zoom capabilities, they can use those features to adjust the position of your camera.
Hackers can use two-way audio to listen to your conversations and potentially frighten you and your family. Children are known to be especially vulnerable to this breach.
The other thing to consider is that after a hacker gets into your security camera, they may be able to get into other connected devices in your home. For example, they may be able to hack into your home security system and smart locks.
It’s frightening to think that someone who has access to your personal information could disarm your alarm and unlock your doors!
WiFi is a wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to allow devices to communicate. Because of this, it’s not the most secure way of transmitting information. It’s even riskier when unencrypted data, aka unprotected information, is being sent through the manufacturer’s app or website. However, WiFi is incredibly convenient, and there are a lot of excellent WiFi security cameras on the market.
Officer Lia Medina of the Jerome, Idaho Police Department sees the value in security cameras and how they can aid law enforcement but also considers the security risks.
Anything that is on WiFi has the ability to be hacked, so making sure that it is pointed in appropriate directions, where if someone was viewing through your camera lens, what would they be looking at? Hacking is very rare, but the possibility is there, if it’s going through WiFi.
How To Know If Your Camera Has Been Hacked
Here are six telltale signs to look for that your security camera has been compromised.
1. Check for Unusual Camera Movements
If you have a camera that offers pan and tilt movement, you can monitor it to make sure it only moves when it’s supposed to. If you see it moving on its own, that may be a sign your camera has been hacked.
2. Strange LED Behavior
If the LED screen on your camera comes on or off on its own, or seems to have a life of its own, you’ll want to make sure your camera hasn’t been accessed and is being controlled externally.
3. Unexplained Sounds
This is only going to apply to cameras that support microphone audio (i.e. you can speak through the camera). This is common in doorbell cameras. If your camera speakerphone is producing weird and unfamiliar sounds and voices, it’s possible that a hacker has gained access to your camera.
4. Change In The Security Settings
It’s always a good idea to lock down your camera by taking advantage of its security features. At the very least, use a strong password and connect the WiFi via a secure protocol. And – make note of your settings and periodically check in on them. If they’ve changed without your influence, there’s a chance a hacker has gained access and adjusted them.
5. Unusual Data Usage
If you have a way of monitoring your camera’s data usage, keep tabs on how much data is typically used. If that usage suddenly spirals out of control, it’s a sign that someone has accessed and is manipulating your camera.
6. Unauthorized User Access
Many camera providers will send you an email or text alert if they detect that there has been an unusual login to your cameras. Make sure you are receiving these alerts and keeping tabs on them. And if you’re not sure if your camera brand offers these alerts, don’t hesitate to ask your provider, or check with us in the comments.
Some camera companies are in the news more often than others for hacking concerns. Even top name brands such as Google Nest and Ring have been compromised in the past. Some of that has been from mass data breaches.
Ring is saying that mass data breaches are the culprit but are currently in a lawsuit that claims differently. They have implemented a new privacy dashboard and two-factor authentication. Google also blames mass data breaches and has warned customers to update security settings.
Manufactures are being called out for producing unsecured cameras. The website Insecam.org finds unsecured cameras around the world, lists the manufacturers and allows you to see the camera views. In a twist of irony, the website is not secure (SSL) itself.
Here is a list of manufacturers that have produced vulnerable cameras. This is by all means not an exhaustive list, and many of the issues have been corrected in newer models, so check your model number. Reolink has a guide on choosing secured IP camera manufacturers.
- Webcam XP
The best way to keep your cameras safe is to research the model you plan to purchase and follow our tips on how to protect yourself in the next section.
While there are no hack-proof security cameras, there are several ways to secure the cameras you have.
1. Protect Your WiFi
Protecting your WiFi is step one if you’re using a WiFi home security camera. Be sure to secure your router by activating the encryption option. You should also change the name of the network so it’s different from the default name because default names are more susceptible to hacking.
Set up a virtual private network, or VPN. This digital barrier will reroute your network traffic through a hidden network server to keep your system secure.
Another critical part of WiFi security is to lock down your system so it will only accept your devices and reject unauthorized devices. You also need to think about the password security we discuss below in regard to your WiFi.
2. Keep Your Passwords Strong
The easiest way to keep your cameras safe from hackers is to change your password regularly and never use the same password for more than one account. Never include personal information like birthdays or names in your passwords. Doing this makes you an easy target. Create complex passwords that string together random characters with a combination of numbers, symbols and both uppercase and lowercase letters.
If you want a simple way to keep up with all your passwords, get a password manager like Dashlane or Lastpass. These managers can generate, store and automatically insert your passwords online.
3. Update Your Firmware
Camera manufacturers don’t like it when criminals hack their cameras. They typically respond by releasing a firmware update to help keep your cameras protected. Firmware updates are only helpful if you use them, so be sure to make these updates as soon as possible.
4. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a second factor, after your user name and password combination, to allow you access to your account. It is often something only you have access to and is sent to you through email, text or even an app or website. A new code is generated for each login and provides an extra layer of protection against hackers.
5. Pay Attention To Position
While home security cameras allow us to see what’s going on in and around our homes, you need to be thoughtful about where you place them and the areas they cover. Keep in mind what a hacker would see if they got in.
Unfortunately, security cameras get hacked. This 3-minute video from ABC News shows the violation and fear people feel when this occurs.
Security camera hacking is rare, but you need to protect yourself to make sure you don’t become a victim. Stay informed and follow our guidelines to maximize your online safety.
Also make sure you are aware of the other ways hackers can violate you and your personal space. Read our comprehensive guide to protecting your identity to help ensure your sensitive information stays protected.
Feeling good about your camera security? Let us know in the comments!Tagged With: