How to Secure Your Nest Cameras and Other Smart Home Devices

Nest Labs, an American manufacturer of various smart home devices, recently had to encourage their customers to secure their accounts, as cybercriminals gained access to quite a few of them. The thought that some stranger could watch you in your home or speak to you and your family through your Nest camera is no doubt terrifying. Unfortunately, quite a lot of families have already reported experiencing this unpleasant situation. According to Google that acquired Nest Labs back in 2014, the hackers were successful because the victims were using compromised passwords. Further in the article, we not only discuss such incidents in more detail but also talk about what you can and should do to protect your Nest camera and other smart home devices to ensure your privacy.

How did hackers use Nest camera to attack its owners?

Most of Nest cameras allow talking through integrated speakers to anyone standing in front of the camera over the Internet. Thus, all that is left to do is to gain access to the user's Nest account. During one of the incidents, cybercriminals used the camera's speakers to make a fake emergency broadcast alert claiming North Korea was launching intercontinental ballistic missiles at the United States. The voice told the woman and her 8-year-old son to evacuate as quickly as possible. Naturally, both of them were terrified at first, but after checking multiple news channels, the woman realized something was wrong and called 911 and then Nest Labs.

Another incident scared a family with a 4-month-old as the hacker behind the attack threatened to kidnap the baby. At first, the parents assumed somebody was in their child's room, as they heard someone speaking in there. They rushed to their baby's room, but could not find anyone. Suddenly, the mother remembered a story she read about Wi-Fi camera hacking and realized what was happening. Once they turned off their Wi-Fi, the voice was gone. There were more similar reports about hackers terrorizing home camera owners or their children via integrated speakers, so this type of incident is nothing new. Yet the fact they keep occurring reveals most people are unaware of the threat behind leaving their smart home devices unprotected. The truth is, many of them can be used to spy on the user, steal his sensitive information, perform so-called DDos attacks, and so on.

How cybercriminals gained access to Nest cameras

Most victims blame the manufacturer for the incidents during which hackers used Nest camera to attack, but the truth is, the users could have prevented them if only they used a strong password or Two-Factor authentication. As we mentioned earlier, the only reason the hackers were able to use Nest cameras is that their owners set up compromised passwords when creating their Nest accounts. Compromised passwords mean the passcodes were leaked during some data breach that could have occurred on any website the victim was registered. In other words, the victims were reusing breached passwords.

What can you do to improve your Nest camera’s security?

What is important to realize is that data breaches occur every day and it is not safe to reuse passcodes. Meaning, when you set up a new account, you should think of a unique password that you have never used before. Especially, if the profile can let cybercriminals access your other accounts, sensitive information, or gain the ability to spy on you. Thus, the first thing you should do to secure your Nest camera is to replace its password with a unique and strong combination.

Users often reuse passwords or come up with weak combinations out of fear of forgetting them. However, forgetting a password should be your least concern, especially when there is software that can remember it for you. What we are talking about are dedicated password managers that can safely store your passwords in an encrypted vault. We offer trying out our password manager called Cyclonis Password Manager. It is free to use and it an offer various useful features, such as a Password Generator, Automatic Login, Private Notes, Two-Factor Authentication, and so on. With its help you can set up a strong random password for your Nest camera account that would be impossible to guess.

Next, Nest labs specialists highly recommend adding an extra security layer to all Nest accounts by enabling Two-Factor authentication. This would stop the cybercriminals from taking over the control of your Nest camera even if they knew the password. As you see, Two-Factor authentication requires more than just a password to log in.

How to set up Two-Factor authentication for Nest smart home devices?

The process is not as difficult as you may have imagined it, and if you complete the steps available below, you should be able to secure your Nest account with Two-Factor authentication with no trouble.

  1. First, you need to connect to your Nest account through the company's website and not the mobile application.
  2. Then click on your profile icon located on the screen's top-right corner.
  3. Select Settings and navigate to Account Security.
  4. Look for a toggle switch next to 2-step verification and slide it to turn the feature On.
  5. Insert a phone number to which you want to receive verification codes from Nest.
  6. The system will sign out all of your Nest devices.
  7. Log in again with your password and the verification code you will receive.

Smart home devices like Nest cameras are created to help us ensure our safety, but as all other devices connected to the Internet, they can be vulnerable to various cyber attacks. While it is essential that the manufacturer takes security matters seriously, it is as vital you do the same. Therefore, if you own a Nest camera or any other smart home device, we urge you to make sure you are not using breached, default, or weak passwords. If you want to know more about how to secure your smart home devices, we recommend continuing reading here.

March 4, 2019

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