Whether they are for indoor or outdoor use, security cameras have quickly become one of the most popular and effective home security devices. However, just as you may use them to keep an eye on your property, cyber-criminals can use hack them to stake out your property. If you own a security camera or are considering purchasing one, follow these five tips to make sure your video feed is for your eyes only:
#1: Use strong passwords
It sounds like an obvious solution, but you may be shocked by how frequently people (and businesses) set up security camera systems and don’t change the default username and password.
When setting up your cameras, be sure to use a strong password. Experts will tell you it’s best to create passwords that combine letters (both upper and lower cases), numbers and symbols. The more complex, the better. A strong password is your best defense against hackers.
#2: Secure your home wireless network
Securing your WiFi network is another seemingly obvious strategy for protecting your WiFi-connected home security camera and other devices against hackers. This may include using WPA2 encryption, giving your home router a stronger password, updating the default SSID (ie. network) name, and/or turning off guest networking and sharing.
We also recommend placing your security cameras on a network of their own. Isolating your cameras to a single network means that if the cameras are somehow compromised, the hacker won’t be able to gain access to any of your other devices. If you want to take it one step further, you can also use a virtual private network (VPN) to further regulate which of your devices will be able to access the network the security cameras are on. You may also opt to log any activity on the network to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is occurring there.
Installing a firewall between your Internet connection and all of your devices is one more way to protect yourself. This may require the help of a professional.
#3: Regularly update your security camera’s firmware
Manufacturers of home security cameras periodically update their firmware to fix bugs and enhance product performance. Sometimes these bug fixes solve security flaws, so make sure you are always using the most recent update.
#4: Turn off remote online monitoring
Many WiFi-connected security cameras support remote viewing, which allows you to monitor your home through an app or website when you are away. The ability to log into your security camera remotely is part of the appeal, but app and/or website access can expose you to hackers if your passwords aren’t strong. If you’re worried, simply consider turning off remote monitoring when you aren’t using it.
#5: Purchase your home security camera from a trusted source
Whether a DIY solution or a locally monitored home security service, there are many sources to choose from when shopping for WiFi-connected home security cameras. Do your research to ensure you’ve got a reliable one that offers excellent customer service.
Many widely available wireless home security cameras that you can get at big box stores like Home Depot, Walmart, Best Buy or Amazon, authenticate users without requiring them to create passwords. This vulnerability can make your network susceptible to hackers.
And stay away from used security equipment. A bargain may be enticing, but you won’t know who has previously accessed it or whether any unauthorized modifications have been made. Spending the extra money on new equipment will be worth avoiding the potential problems.
If you do go with a locally monitored service, ask your account manager about the precautions they take to protect their products.