How to Protect Your Home Security Camera From Being Hacked

Security cameras that are online are easy to hack. Here's how to stop a breach before it happens.

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Home security cameras offer peace of mind by letting you monitor your home environment. Smart cameras allow you to catch intruders, check on a young child playing in their room or eyeball your pets from anywhere via an app on your phone.

While smart security cameras are handy, they have a dark side, too. Youve probably seen scary headlines about people hacking home security cameras. For example, a familys camera was hacked, then used to scare the family into thinking that the United States was under a missile attack. In another incident, a childs bedroom security camera was hacked, allowing a stranger to talk to the child. Unfortunately, just about any device that is connected to the internet can be hacked. Still, there are ways to protect yourself and your home.

Is Your Security Camera Vulnerable to Hackers?

Probably. As mentioned above, if it connects to the internet, its vulnerable to hackers. Some cameras are more susceptible to hacks than others, but you can fight back. Cameras with two-factor authentication requiring a password can prevent easy access to your online account or app. Typically with two-factor authentication, a code is sent to your email or phone that you need to log in. Any Ring Camera and the Nest Cam Indoorcome with this feature. Some cameras, such as these Lorex cameras, dont need to be connected to the internet. You lose functionality but they cant be hacked.

Why Would Someone Want to Hack Your Security Camera?

In many of the cases reported, the hackers just wanted the thrill of scaring the owners. But these cameras can be easily used to discover personal information, or to capture images of people in vulnerable moments.

How to Prevent Hackers From Stealing Your Information

There are several ways you can protect yourself from hacking, besides two-factor authentication. Elena Mauer of SecurityNerd.com, an online resource that focuses on sharing knowledge about home security solutions, offered these tips:

  1. Set up a username and password that are complex and difficult to guess. Too many people just leave passwords as the default or use something simple like password or 1234 or their birth date. Passwords should be at least eight to 10 characters and include symbols and punctuation marks. Your camera, security system and WiFi router should each have their own username and password, and you should change them all periodically.

  2. Set up WPA2 security on your router, which requires each new device to submit a password to connect (contact your routers manufacturer to learn more). If WPA2 is not an option, consider buying a new router with this type of security.

  3. Dont access your security camera or your home security system from a public WiFi network. You might want to check in while youre at the caf or in the park, but these networks arent secure and hackers can use them to find your information.

  4. Many security systems and cameras allow you to check logins to see whos accessing your account. Check those periodically to be sure theres no unusual activity. If you suspect that someone else may have logged into your system, its time to change your passwords again. The password changing can be annoying, but its important.

  5. Stay on the lookout for any strange activity, like if your camera indicates its on when you havent activated it (usually a light comes on), or if it moves or pans on its own. That could mean someone else has accessed it.

  6. If youre giving friends or family members access, dont let them use your username and password. Create a separate username and password for them so that you can turn off access if you need to. Then you dont risk your password getting into the wrong hands.

What to Do If You Suspect Youve Been Hacked

First, unplug the camera from its power source. Then change the passwords on your cameras account, on the app and to your router. Finally, contact the manufacturer of the device and local law enforcement.