5 steps to protect your security cameras from hackers

Houses without any security systems in place are 2.7 times more likely to be broken into, according to a 2003 study in the UK.

Security camera systems are a good answer against this risk. Easy to install and use, it has become a popular solution in recent years.

Despite the ease, reports of compromised security camera systems are rising. Hackers can gain access to live footage and use the built-in speakers and microphones.

One such case happened with Amazon’s Ring system. Four days after installing it, a couple in Mississippi had to shut it down again after an intrusion. A hacker used the speakers to shout racial slurs at their 8-year-old daughter, leaving the family distressed.

This doesn’t mean security cameras are unsafe. It only means you need to take some extra steps to ensure everything is set up correctly.

Here’s what you can do to protect your privacy:

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1. Research the manufacturer

When choosing a security camera system brand, there are two options.

While newer brands offer attractive software and hardware, established companies have more experience. Going with the latter can be a good option if this is the first system you’re installing.

Always do your research before buying. If a particular camera catches your eye, did it run into any problems in the past? Have they been fixed? How does the company handle these problems?

2. Change the default passwords

Common access points for hackers are through your Wi-Fi or a vulnerable camera. Default and weak passwords are to blame.

To avoid making things easy, change the default password of your Wi-Fi router, as factory passwords can be found online. The next step is to also use a custom password for the security camera system’s apps.

Longer passwords filled with mixed characters are usually safer. Aim for at least 6 characters, upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and a couple of symbols.

If you find the new password hard to memorize, you can use a password manager. It allows you to securely store all the complex passwords under a master password. You can enjoy extra safety without straining your memory.

3. Keep the firmware up to date

If you’re not very familiar with computers, you might not have heard of firmware. This is the software directly embedded in hardware, a code controlling the basic functions of most gadgets.

This firmware is also responsible for some security features, which is why it is important to keep it up to date. Refer to your system’s manual on how to do it.

Don’t worry, although the term firmware sounds complex, updating it is usually simple.

4. Look for two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security you can add to many services.

After entering your user name/password combination, 2FA requires an extra piece of information before logging you in. This can be a security question, a biometric pattern, or an authenticator code.

Look for a security system that can provide this extra layer of security. Even if your credentials are compromised, 2FA can keep attackers out until you change your password.

5. Turn off remote online monitoring

Remote online monitoring is a feature that allows you to see the video feed of your cameras while you are away.

While this is convenient, consider turning it off when you’re not using it. If you don’t, hackers could try to access this stream and see inside your house without your knowledge.

Keeping your home safe

These are five simple steps you can take that will prevent the most common exploits. 

By researching manufacturers, using strong passwords, updating firmware, enabling 2FA and managing your remote monitoring settings, you’ll have an easier time keeping hackers out. 

Your security camera system will do what it’s supposed to do: keep the burglars out, not be a silent backdoor for hackers to come in.

Photo by Niv Singer on Unsplash.

(This article wraps-up with a call to action: links to other pages on security camera solutions for homeowners, and a downloadable study in exchange for an e-mail address)

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