Can Home Security Cameras Be Hacked?

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Person hacking into security camera on laptop (caption in image: Can Home Security Cameras Be Hacked?)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.

Article Overview

How Do Hackers Get In?

Password on screenThere 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.

What Can Hackers Do With Your Cameras?

Postman delivering package on security cameraOnce 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!

The Additional Risk Of WiFi

Man setting up an Arlo security camera outside (Caption: Best WiFi Security Camera)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.1

Camera Brands With A Poor Security Reputation

Nest Cam IQ camera

Some camera companies are in the news more often than others for hacking concerns, most recently Google Nest Cam and Ring.2 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.

Other 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 hacked camera views of 6 cameras from each of the manufacturers. In a twist of irony, the website is not secure (SSL) itself. Here is the most current list compiled from the data on their website.3

  • Axis
  • Panasonic
  • PanasonicHD
  • Linksys
  • Mobotix
  • Sony
  • TPLink
  • Foscam
  • Netcam
  • Defeway
  • 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.

5 Ways To Protect Yourself

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.Phone with VPN on screen (caption: Guide to VPNs: virtual private networks)

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 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.

Be sure to set up two-factor authentication for your camera. Some security camera companies like Ring and Nest offer it. If your camera doesn’t, you can set up your own.Security camera catching a mailman in action

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.

When Hackers Violate Security Camera Users

Unfortunately, security cameras get hacked. This 3-minute video from ABC News shows the violation and fear people feel when this occurs.

How To Protect Your Identity

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.

What steps are you taking to prevent your cameras from being hacked?

Sources: [1] KMVT, [2] The New York Times, [3] Reolink

About The Author:

Julie has been writing professionally since 2012. She is an active volunteer for a local arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country. Everytown does comprehensive research on gun violence and makes recommendations on how we can all make our communities safer. Her involvement with this organization has given her invaluable information about how to keep our kids safe.

She enjoys writing not only about gun safety, but from family-related content to informative articles about technology, events and healthcare. In her free time, you might find her hiking, trail running, biking or swimming. You might also find her in the kitchen where she loves to cook and bake.

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