6 Ways Your Security Camera Can Be Hacked and How You Can Stop Them

One of the biggest concerns with security cameras is the possibility that they can be hacked. While it is possible that your camera can be hacked, there are basic steps that you can take to reduce the chances that you are hacked.

In this blog post, I will discuss the 6 ways that your camera can be hacked, and all the ways you can stop them.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Hacking a security camera is a serious issue for you for a couple of reasons. First, if someone has hacked into your security camera, what else have they hacked into of yours? They could have hacked into your computer or smartphone, or they could have accessed your information from the manufacturer. Knowing where the intrusion came from is important when working to prevent hacking.

Second, do you want a camera that is there for your protection turned on you, watching you and your families every move? There have been multiple stores in the news where the security cameras where compromised and criminals were watching them, instead of protecting the family 

Through your computer

Your computer (or laptop) is one of the easiest ways to hack your security camera. Also, you can take basic steps to protect your computer and security camera.

How they access through the computer

There are a few ways that criminals can access your security camera through your computer. The easiest way is when a computer doesn’t have a username and password. In older models of Windows, a username and password weren’t required. When the welcome screen appeared, you just hit enter to log in.

Another easy way to hack a computer is to use basic username and passwords. Usernames like “admin,” “user,” and the like, combined with passwords like “admin,” “1234” are simple ways for users to hack your computer. 

A third way hackers enter your computer is through downloading harmful software. If you download harmful software hackers can access all sorts of information on your site. 

Once hackers are able to access your computer, they have the ability to access your camera hardware. They can disable, manipulate, or break your camera.

There are simple ways you can prevent hackers from entering your computer 

How to stop hackers

There are very simple ways you can prevent hackers from getting into your computer.

First, give your computer a username a password. Giving your computer a username and password will prevent basic hackers from entering your computer. Make your username something other than your name. In addition, give your password log in name. Do not give your, a password that is directly associated with you.

Second, do not download software that you do not trust. In general, be suspicious of anything that is not directly from the manufacturer. If it looks suspicious, then it probably is. This rule of them goes for emails, websites, or things sent to you from someone else.

Third, update your computer. Updates from your operating system usually contain security fixes, if you don’t update your computer your computer will be more prone to being hacked. You can even schedule updates to happen when you are not using the computer. Update your computer today. 

Through your router

The second easiest way to access your security camera is through your router. Like your computer, there are simple steps you can take to prevent your router from being hacked. 

How they access through the router

Routers can be hacked because most have default passwords that are available through the manufactures website. Most router usernames are “admin,” or “user.” In addition, default passwords are “password,” “admin,”  “pword,” or some variation.  

Another way hackers gain access through your router is through friends and family. When you give your friends and family access to your wireless network, you are trusting that their computer or smartphone has not been hacked.

The third way criminals can hack your computer is by not updating your router’s firmware. Firmware is code in your router, and many other devices, that tells the hardware what to do.

Like computers, router manufactures create and send firmware updates to fix problems with the router. Often times firmware updates include security fixes. If you don’t update your router with the newest firmware, your router can be prone to hacks. 

Another easy way to hack into your router is by having a very easy wifi password. Easy passwords make easy targets. If you password doesn’t include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a symbol, your password is too easy. If your password is a name or sequential number (1234) than it is too easy.

Along with easy passwords, keeping your default wifi password can lend itself to hacking. In an effort to make installing routers easier, many internet service providers (ISPs) per configure your wifi username and password. While this makes for a faster installation, multiple people now know your username and password. There have been many reports on cable installers behaving badly with user data.

How to stop hackers

Like computers, there are a number of easy steps to take to reduce the chances of your router being hacked.

The first step you should take is changing your username and password. To do this, you will need to log into your router. The steps to log in to your router can be found online. Just search the name of your router manufacturer.

If you do not know the name of the manufacturer, flip your router over, it should have the serial or part number. Once you’ve found the serial number, enter that into Google. Next, go to the manufacturer’s website for directions on how to change your router’s username and password.

Now that you have mastered the steps of changing the username and password, change your wifi username and password. I recommend not making your wifi username “smiths house router” because hackers now know the house they are hacking.

Change your password to something difficult. Give your router password a long string of letters, numbers, and characters. The longer the better. 

While you’re in the router, the final step you need to take is to make sure your firmware is up-to-date. There should be a section called “firmware.” Once you find it, there should be a section that says “check for updates.” If you don’t see this section, look on your router’s website.

Making sure that your friends and family have update computers and phones can be a difficult conversation. To prevent having a “tough talk” simply create a guest network for them to use. A guest network will allow them to access the internet, but it will also keep you safer because they will be on a different network from your devices. 

A guest network can be created one of two ways. You can log back into your router (which should be easy, because you’ve just done it) and create a guest network. There should be steps either in your router or online to create this network.

A second and easier way is through your routers smartphone app. If your router has a smartphone app, then it should have the ability to create a guest network.

Through your security camera system

The third way to hack into your security camera is through the security camera itself. This applies to homeowners that have wireless or Power over Ethernet (PoE) systems. If you own a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system, it is possible to be hacked, but it is a little more difficult.

How they access through the security camera 

The first way they can access your security camera is by not changing the default username and password. Much like routers, security cameras have default usernames and passwords to make installation easy. Failing to change the username and password will make hacking into this system even easier.

The second way they can access your security camera is much like the ways of hacking a computer or router. Weak or no passwords make for very easy targets. Passwords like “password123” will have your camera hacked quickly and easily. 

The third way hackers can gain access to your camera is through denial of service attacks. This DoS attack is when hackers attempt to make your entire internet crash by sending repeated requests to your network. Usually these type of attacks occur to entire ISPs, not to customers. If this does happen, contact your ISP immediately. 

Another way hackers can access your security cameras is though “packet sniffing.” Basically, packet sniffing is collecting data while it is in transit. Your camera breaks video recordings into small pieces of data and sends them someplace else using an internet connection. Packet sniffing lets hackers see or redirect the pieces of data to a different place.

How to stop hackers

The first way to stop hackers is to create a difficult username and password. If you are unsure as to how to create difficult passwords, there are online tools that can help. What I recommend is finding a tool online, use the tool, then modify the auto-generated password. I recommend modifying the password just in case the password generation websites get hacked.

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, make sure that your username is not “admin” or “user.” Try to come up with something that does not directly identify who you are, or where the camera is located. Using your home address for the username is a BAD idea.

Through free wifi

Free wifi from local businesses is great, but it also has a number of risks that can make stealing your information easy. In general, you should use free wifi as a last resort, not a first option.

How they access through free wifi

There are a few ways criminals can steal your information through wifi. First is the “man-in-the-middle” attack. This is like packet sniffing where a hacker waits between you and another party waiting for information. That other party can be a friend, family member, bank, or anything else that sends sensitive data.

Here is an example of a MITM in action. You arrive at a coffee shop that has free wifi. Before you purchase anything you log into the free wifi to check your bank account. You go to your bank, enter your username and password and nothing happens. You enter in the information again, the same result. After attempting to log in a few more times, you finally log in. You were unable to log in the first few attempts because your data was sent to the MITM.

A second way hackers can steal your information is by providing you with free wifi that seems like it is legit. For example, you arrive at a restaurant that offers free wifi. The restaurant provides customers with wifi called “myPlace.” Instead of logging into myPlace, you log into “screen.”

Once you’ve logged into the wrong network, any information you send or receive can be sniffed. 

How to stop hackers

The easiest and best way to prevent hackers from stealing your data over free wifi is to not use the wifi. For the most part, our smartphones have good enough data transmission and signal strength to satisfy our needs while we are on the go. If you want to work on a larger screen like a computer or tablet, you can “tether” your smartphone to your computer. Tethering is using your smartphone as the internet connection for your computer or tablet.

If you have to use free wifi, don’t send any personal information while using it. Go to sites where you don’t have to enter a username and password. If if the username and password are saved, it is very important to not use it. Each time you log into a website that requires a username and password, you have to resend that password.

Through your email

Another easy way hackers can gain access to your security cameras is through your email. Hackers can use a simple trick to access and control your camera, but there is an easy way to stop them.

How they access through your email

Hackers can attempt to access your security cameras through email by sending you an email requesting information from you. The email will read something like 

dear sir or madam,

Your computer or router needs to have an immediate update. This update need to be done today! Failure to update your camera today leads to your computer being disabled. click this link to have computer, router, or camera fixed.

Thank you tech support team.

This is clearly an attempt to phish data from a user. There are a number of ways you can spot phishing attempts. First, “dear sir or madam.” Usually, companies know your name or email address.

Second, the email requests a sense of urgency. “This need to be done today!” is a dead give away. They need to harvest as many usernames and passwords before google finds them and shuts them done.

Also, the wording and grammatical errors are also telling. The message is inconsistent by asking for computer, router, and camera information. They are trying to get any information they can before time is up.

How to stop hackers

The best way to stop hackers is by not clicking on the link suggested, and delete the email. Also, look at the sender’s name, it the name seems weird, it is a scam.

Another way to stop hackers is to check the manufacturer’s website. If you receive an email asking you to update your security camera, do to the manufactures website and verify that an update is needed. 

Through manufacturer

The manufacturer may be the biggest ways that you can get hacked, and there is little you can go about it

How they access through the manufacturer

Like many businesses security camera producers keep a list of all customers in a database. That list may include user contact information (name, mailing address, email address), camera(s) connected to the account, and passwords. If a hacker breaks into a manufacturers database, they have everything they need to harvest data from their customers. 

Another problem with manufacturers is that they may sell your information to third parties. This is an issue because now your information is in twice as many places. In addition, who knows how they plan to use that information.

How to stop hackers 

While it is more difficult to stop hackers that go this route, there are ways to reduce the risks. Do not give manufacturers any more data than they need. If they don’t require an email address, then don’t provide it. Another way to reduce being hacked through the company is by opting out of email. Request to be added to their do not contact list.

If you decide to be added to the do not contact list, it will be even more important to check the manufacturer’s website for updates for your security camera. 

Through the manufacturer part 2

More problems with the manufacturer.

How they access through the manufacturer

Manufacturers present two problems: shipping products with known security issues, and pushing new firmware.

In a rush to sell products many manufacturers will send out products that have known security holes, with the hopes that they will patch them later. This is a huge problem because hackers will quickly find the security hole, and exploit it. The manufacturer will always be playing catch up, trying to patch holes while hackers are finding more hold.

A second problem is that manufacturers may not push firmware to update the cameras’ hardware. As hardware ages, what worked in the past may not work in the future. Also, failing to update firmware creates security issues.

How to stop hackers

There isn’t much you can do to prevent this. The only thing you can do is purchase your cameras through a trusted manufacturer. Make sure the manufacturer has a good track record of pushing updates to the firmware. Also, as I mentioned, opt out of any emails, and give the least amount of information as possible.

Conclusion

To conclude, there are a number of ways that your computer to be hacked. The good part is that taking basic measures can prevent your cameras from being hacked. 

Make sure that you create strong username and passwords for your router, computer, and security cameras. Also, don’t trust emails that are sent from the manufacturer. 

Additional questions

Hacked home security cameras list

Here is a list of know unsecured security cameras. 

  • Foscam
  • Netcam
  • Defeway
  • Webcam XP/7
  • Sony
  • Mobotix
  • Linksys
  • PanasonicHD
  • Pansonic
  • Axis

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