Can home security cameras be hacked?

Installing security cameras to monitor your home is a top security measure. But could some cameras be vulnerable to being hacked?

We live in the age of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and our homes are becoming ‘smarter’ every year. This includes internet connected fridges, TVs, thermostats and cameras.

Cybersecurity experts Kaspersky mention the following about the growth of IoT:

“Some devices are rushed out without paying adequate attention to IoT security issues. When devices are superseded by new products, manufacturers don’t always make much effort to support them with security patches. That’s a stark contrast to computer hardware and software, where you’d expect regular updates to address security vulnerabilities and improve operations.”

Hacked cameras

Anything connected to the internet could be open to compromise, if precautions are not taken by the developers and individual users. A 2020 investigation by ‘Which?‘ revealed that over 100K wireless indoor cameras in the UK could be vulnerable to being hacked.

We don’t have to search far online to learn about incidents regarding modern home security cameras. These incidents usually resulted from software flaws, stolen passwords, weak passwords or even lack of procedures and safeguards in the developing companies. There have been cases of rogue company employees spying on customers via their home security cameras.

In conclusion, the vast majority of major home security camera devices have not had any issues, but it’s wise to be very cautious. After all, the aim of the security camera is to protect us.

10 tips for your security camera setup

1. Research

Pick a well-known and established brand. Secondly, do check that the product model is positively reviewed online. Thirdly, ‘Google’ the name of the company for any security breaches (or hacks).

2. Find a reputable retailer

Buy the device from a reputable retailer, as they should be running the proper checks on companies. It’s very easy for someone to set up an account and sell products via online marketplaces.

3. Check the security credentials of the camera company

This includes asking where the footage is stored and how it’s accessed. Firstly, who has access? Secondly, how long is the footage stored for? Thirdly, is the camera footage password protected? Finally, is the data encrypted and to what level? Then compare the results with other companies – most will have dedicated security pages, or FAQs on their websites.

4. Change the device’s default password

Ensure the password is of good quality/strength. You can test password strengths on Bitwarden. For example, a password of “123456” would take “less than a second” to crack. This is compared to a password such as “[email protected]@w” which would take “centuries” to crack.

5. Don’t reuse passwords that you use elsewhere

The website ‘Have I Been Pwned’ reports website/company breaches, which include the likes of Facebook. Their website also allows you to check your personal email address.

6. Change your password every three months

7. Activate two-factor authentication

If the security device’s account provides the option for it, do consider turning it on (if it’s not on by default). This might include the account sending you a one use password/code to your mobile to enter each time you log in.

8. Ensure the device is on the latest version (firmware)

Software patches are often released to resolve security issues.

9. Check other devices on your home network

Ensure they have unique passwords and the firmware is on the latest version. This is to avoid someone gaining access via them to the rest of your network. An extra tip is to consider ‘network segmentation’ (a ‘Google’ search will show you how to do this).

10. Change your router’s password

If it has never been changed from the default.

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