How to Protect Your Home Security Camera System from Being Hacked

Installing security cameras is a great way to boost your home or office security. However, they can be hacked like any other piece of technology and used against you by hackers. Cases of hacked security cameras have become all too common these days, so it's not surprising that a national survey conducted by Consumer Reports in 2018 found that 54% of Americans believed that a potential loss of privacy is a reason not to use smart cameras.

How do hackers hack smart cameras?

One of the most common ways to hack security cameras is via a technique called "credential stuffing." Hackers exploit user credentials from data breaches (sometimes shared by other hackers), to gain access to user accounts. Most users then re-use the same password or modify it only slightly, which makes it easy for hackers to access multiple accounts of the same user. Hackers have successfully cracked the login credentials for over 8.2 billion online accounts over the course of the last few years. The worst part is that companies who make these smart devices are not able to help you in any way.

"These companies aren't technically at fault," said Robert Richter, who leads security and privacy testing for Consumer Reports. "Most companies offer a two-factor authentication system that acts as an extra deterrent against attacks like this, but there is more that these companies could do, like encouraging people to use that added security feature by default," he added.

How to prevent hacks

You can never be 100% protected online or in life but there are things you can do to minimize the risks. Here are a few simple and easy tips to keep your smart devices safe:

Keep your smart camera's firmware updated.

Serious manufacturers will do their best to protect their cameras and clients. They release firmware updates that fix software issues and patch security issues on a regular basis. Certain models will automatically download and install firmware updates, but some others need you to do it manually. If you have one of the latter ones be sure you update them regularly.

Change your camera's default password.

Don't use your camera's default password, that's easily guessable by hackers, and don't use a password you use on another account either. Instead, create a new password for the smart camera specifically. Ideally, your password will be long and complex enough to be hard to crack through brute force tactics. You need at least 8 characters and don't be afraid to use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. The crazier, the better.

Use a password manager.

Password managers are very reliable programs that can remember your passwords for you. They can also sport other features. Cyclonis Password Manager offers a built-in Password Analyzer, Password Generator, Cloud Storage, an Auto-Fill tool, and much more. Why not give it a try? It's free.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication.

We've talked about 2FA a lot in the past. This secondary layer of defense will add another step between your account and hackers by requiring you to enter a one-time passcode sent via a text message, phone call, email, or authentication app that you must enter in addition to your username and password when you log in to your account. This is very useful because even if hackers acquire your password and username they still wouldn't be able to enter your account without that one-time passcode.

Amazon, Nest, and Ring smart cameras all have options for 2FA, however, many other brands do not. Make sure to check if the model you intend to buy has an option for Two-Factor Authentication.

August 9, 2019

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