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The Dangers of Hackers: How to Protect Your Security Cameras

security cameras

The Dangers of Hackers: How to Protect Your Security Cameras

For every security measure you take in this increasingly connected world, another potential risk arises. Studies have proven that security cameras provide a great burglary deterrent to both your house and the surrounding neighborhood. It’s increasingly important to own one if you live in an area prone to these types of crime.  

However, risks of hacking rise every time a camera hooked in some way to the web is installed in your home. If you’re not careful protecting yourself from hacking, there could be scary consequences

What Hackers Can Do

The most frightening thing a hacker can do is use your security cameras to tell when you’re out or on vacation. As you’ll learn, hacking can be done from close by or thousands of miles away. 

And it doesn’t have to just affect your home or office’s security system. If your lights are automated and connected, if your thermostat is automated and connected, if your fridge is automated and connected, they can all be controlled. 

If a hacker is too far away to physically steal anything, they might decide to rocket up the thermostat or break the lights. If you use your cameras to monitor your kids, a hacker could be using them to watch them too.

Each of these connected devices also presents an opportunity to access your network. 

Hacking also robs you of a very important sense of privacy. What we do in the seclusion of our own home is something worth protecting. A right to privacy is a foundational part of our national identity. 

Being hacked robs not just you of that right but puts your family in the way of prying eyes. What’s the use of spending your money for a roof over your head and walls around you to keep you safe if they can be penetrated so easily?

For these reasons, it’s important to know the best ways to prevent yourself and your cameras from hacking. 

Hacking Security Cameras Locally

Local hacks are the hacks that take place within the local network. This doesn’t mean having to get into your house anymore, either. We’re far from the days where a hacker needs to pose at the cable guy to get access to your network.

A local network could be your wifi, which can be accessed within a certain range. A hacker would simply need to guess your wifi password.

Most security cameras hooked up to your wifi network are not securely encrypted or protected by an additional password. If someone can guess your wifi passcode, someone can seize control of your security cameras. 

The first step to prevent a local hack is to check what network your cameras are connected to. Make sure your wifi password is a strong one, there are places you can check to make sure its strong enough. 

There are a couple tips to keep in mind when coming up with your new and improved password. First, make them long with a complex combination of numbers, letters, symbols, and spaces.

It’s easy to rely on familiar information like pet names, kids’ names, birthdays, or addresses but fend off the urge. Any information about you that is easy to find should always be avoided.

Next, you need to add an extra password protection to your security cameras. These passwords should preferably be encrypted.

Hacking Security Cameras Remotely

Remote hacks are the scariest of all because they can happen from anywhere. Many security cameras will be connected through their own internal network where security measures may be lax.

In a number of cases, the username and password for these internal networks don’t stray far from “admin” and “password,” their default settings. It is vital you change these default passwords to something custom and strong. 

Internet sites exist that specialize in taking advantage of security cameras remaining on their factory settings. A number of security camera vendors display their default username and password on their website for all the world to see. 

They do this to make it as easy as possible for the consumer. It is then up to the consumer to make sure that there are extra layers of security created for your wireless devices.

Mobile Phone Exposure

Another easy way to expose your security cameras to the dangers of the open internet is through their mobile phone compatibility. One of the best things about modern security systems is you can monitor them from anywhere.

There’s nothing better than having a bit of peace of mind on vacation after making sure that nothing is amiss at home. Several systems even have their own app dedicated to streaming your security camera footage directly to your smart phone.

However, this will leave another access point open for a hacker to get through. If your phone is not secure, and most people’s phones don’t have the same wireless security as their desktops do, you may be exposed. 

How To Know You’ve Been Hacked

It’s difficult to tell if your security cameras have been hacked. A simple way is to make sure nothing abnormal is going on with them. You can make sure they don’t seem to turn off or on again by themselves or if they are moving abnormally.

Many security cameras now come with motion record and scheduling options. You can set up certain times for when your cameras will take pictures indoors. They will also capture 30-second videos when they sense any motion in or around the house.

If either of these functions is disabled, alarm bells should go off in your head. Someone may have compromised your network. They may have seized control of your cameras.

This may not be enough, however. A hacker and thief simply need to monitor cameras that should already be on to know when you are not home. 

Poor Performance

A telltale sign could be the security cameras performing poorly or more slowly than usual. Cameras usually have a limited amount of memory, so when their CPUs are put into overdrive when a hacker is using them the system will slow down. 

Another method is to check the IP history of the cameras. If you see a strange IP in the system’s history, you’ll know that someone has tried to access the system.

Still, this isn’t a perfect detection method because it also might mean your network is slowing down for benign reasons. The best defense against hacking is preventing the act in the first place. 

Check For Firmware Updates

The first thing to do is to check if your security cameras have upgradable firmware. If your camera is modern, the manufacturer should be checking for weak points in the camera’s hardware. If they find one, they’ll issue a firmware update. 

Making sure to check for firmware updates on a regular basis could go a long way in future-proofing your security cameras. The manufacturer’s website is a good way to check for any new updates.

If your cameras are not receiving routine firmware updates, you might want to consider getting in the market for something new.

Secure Your Wireless Network

This should be done regardless if you have security cameras or not. An unsecured wireless network could leave you and all of your wireless devices vulnerable. 

The best defense would be to use Wifi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) technology to encrypt your network passwords. Most newer routers support WPA2, which remains as the strongest encryption program that can be accessed. 

Keep Your Security Cameras Local

Another good defense against hackers attacking you from the internet is to keep your cameras off the internet. 

You can set your cameras up on a local network by assigning them non-routable internal IP addresses. 

Every router comes with a preset private local IP address. Be sure to change this before adding your cameras to it. As we’ve talked about before, these default settings are not secure and you want to keep any strangers from knowing your private IP address. 

If possible, it may be wise to resort to a wired security camera system. It could be a pain to deal with the wiring, but a wired system is much more difficult to hack into. 

Get Familiar With VPN

The virtual private network is one of the best defense against a singular hacker you can get. It operates as a tunnel of sorts that connects you to a remote server which connects to the internet.

By accessing the net through this private server you create a buffer for yourself from the internet at large. Most networks are hacked because people don’t protect their access point.

When you log onto the internet directly, there’s a through-line which can be traced back to your computer and your local network.

With VPN, that through-line gets distorted, making you more difficult to hack. If your security cameras access the web through a VPN, they will have an extra layer of protection from potential hackers. 

Firewalls

Firewalls are extra layers of security that use a series of configured rules to control the flow of incoming and outgoing traffic to and from the internet. 

Firewalls are built as watchtowers that scan whatever information may be coming in or out to make sure there is nothing malicious in it. Imagine a filtration system, firewalls operate much the same way. The filter takes the flow of water and makes sure all the debris and bacteria are stopped from getting through at a certain point.

Firewalls do this by enforcing a set of rules designed to root out hackers. Over the years firewalls have had to become more and more complex in order to keep up with the variety of ways hackers have devised to sneak through.

You can place firewalls on any local network you choose. However, it is wise to leave the configuring and installation of a firewall to a network security expert.

Invest In The Right Equipment

You likely invested a great deal of time and energy in choosing the perfect security camera system to fit your needs. You should invest an equal amount of time in finding the right equipment to complement your new security system.

CUJO

CUJO is one of the best firewalls on the market. Plug it into your router, and the firewall will analyze all your local traffic data. It then sends its finding to the cloud for further analysis. It can be very difficult to discover your security cameras have been hacked. With a firewall, you will increase the odds of finding out if anything is amiss.

Anti-Virus

Anti-virus software serves the same kind of purpose as the firewall. These programs can provide an extra layer of filtration in order to keep harmful malware from infiltrating your system.

Anti-Jammers

Anti-jammers are designed to detect and disrupt jamming devices. Jamming devices are one way thieves can knock your security cameras out of commission without having to hack the cameras. With anti-jammers, you can be assured that at least this one method will not be used against you.

Password Encryption

Password encryption software makes encrypting your vital passcodes a breeze. For hackers, these days, regularly changing your password isn’t enough anymore. Encrypting your passwords has become a vital part of layering your home security.

Now let’s review. Hacking can be done by someone around your neighborhood or someone far away. To protect against this, you need to have a secure network. Change your wifi password frequently and make sure it’s strong.  

Look up what your security cameras default IP address and username and password are and change it if possible. Invest in a firewall and a VPN. Make sure your network is WPA2. Stay current with your camera’s firmware updates.

There are a number of important reasons to install security cameras in your home. Just make sure to cover all your bases when you do!

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