In theory, any “connected” device can potentially be hacked, and you’ll hear horror stories about people getting spied on in their bedrooms or about smart locks being manipulated remotely.
While the odds of something like this happening to you are small, these things definitely happen, and there aren’t really any guarantees. In other words, somebody who makes an effort to secure their devices might still get hacked, while somebody who takes no extra security measures may never get hacked. However, if you aren’t doing what you can to secure your devices, you are really making yourself an easier target.
People are particularly concerned about Wyze cameras because of how affordable they are. How can something so inexpensive be even remotely secure? The short answer is, yes, these cameras can get hacked, and the hacker would be able to see everything that you see, but the cameras aren’t “extra” vulnerable.
In reality, Wyze cameras probably aren’t any less secure than the other smart devices that you have or could buy. Wyze’s whole concept is that they are creating devices with the same features as their $100 and $200 counterparts, and in all seriousness, your smartphone probably does more spying than your security camera, but that’s a whole other discussion.
Even though the risk is small, there are still some safety measures that you can take to protect your system from hacking in the future, but it’s important to understand what you are trying to prevent.
What Makes Your Wyze Camera Vulnerable?
When you have a device that’s connected to the Internet, there can be all sorts of vulnerabilities, but know that when hackers get into your system, they’re doing it through one of two ways, either locally or remotely.
To access a security camera locally, the hacker would need to be in the range of your WIFI, so unless the hacker is somebody you know or has traveled to your location, this is unlikely. However, if this were the case, all they would need to do is guess your password correctly or spoof your wireless network and jam the real one.
Security cameras aren’t often password protected because people assume the network itself is a strong enough deterrent. However, Wyze devices are connected to your WIFI, so all a hacker would need to do is break into the network to gain access to your cameras.
Remote hacks are scarier because they can come from virtually anywhere. A data breach, for example, could result in the release of your login information, and if this gets in the wrong hands, that’s all a hacker would need to do some damage. This is, of course, out of your hands, and the best thing you could do is change your password frequently, especially right after a data breach.
The Wyze cameras upload to the Amazon AWS Cloud, which is known to be pretty secure, but when you have video signal being transmitted over the Internet, the signal could get intercepted or fall victim to certain attacks that would result in a hack.
How to Know You’ve Been Hacked?
It’s really difficult to know that you’ve been hacked, as this isn’t something that you can see. Sometimes the cameras might not perform as well when there’s a hacker, but
If you have a tech-savvy friend, he or she might be able to look deeper to see whether or not your camera has been compromised, but other than that, there are a few things you can do, including:
- Check for strange noises. Security cameras that have been hacked sometimes make strange noises, which could actually be somebody’s voice, and this is a definite sign that you’ve been compromised
- Check for abnormal rotations. If your Wyze camera is rotating in ways that aren’t normal, it could be because you’ve been hacked.
- Check the security settings. This goes along with the above point. If your security settings have been changed without your knowledge, somebody may have access to your system.
- Check the data flow. Sometimes you can identify a hack through unusual network activity. Spikes in network traffic and attempted logins are some signs.
Hacks are particularly scary when it comes to indoor cameras, and while none of these things necessarily guarantee a hack, they will at least let you know that something strange is going on. Obviously, if you are unable to login to your account with your personal login information, someone may have hacked your system and changed the login credentials.
How to Minimize the Risk of Future Attacks
Hackers can be very aggressive, and there’s not always a clear reason why they’re targeting you. Hacking skills will vary from person to person, but preventing attacks can be difficult regardless of the hacker’s skill level. The pervasiveness of the “Internet of things” means that the chances of you being the victim are pretty low, but the only way to 100% prevent attacks is to avoid the devices in the first place.
However, you shouldn’t have to do that, so here are some tips for keeping your security cameras (and other connected devices, for that matter) more secure.
1. Use Strong Passwords and Change Them Regularly
Changing your password every now and then is often considered good practice, and it just takes a few minutes to complete. However, you want to make sure that your current password and your new password are strong passwords.
Apple devices, at least, recommend strong passwords when you are creating accounts and setting up new passwords, but if you don’t have a device that does this, you can still create a strong password on your own. Strong passwords have a combination of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and symbols that are in a seemingly random order.
Hackers commonly hack into systems using brute force by simply guessing your password, so if you make your password harder to guess, you reduce the risk of being hacked this way.
2. Update Your Firmware Whenever You Can
Wyze has put a lot of work into their firmware, and you should update it whenever updates are available. This not only gets rid of bugs, but it might also get rid of security vulnerabilities.
For example, if a software or firmware update eliminates an avenue that hackers take to access your system, hackers would have to find a new way or tweak their own method. If you are using out-of-date software or firmware, you only become an easier target, so it’s always important to update your system whenever the updates become available.
3. Rethink Online Monitoring
Obviously, one of the big draws to Wyze’s indoor security camera is the ability to view the footage remotely at 1080p. In fact, this is one of the selling points. Doing this, however, makes you more vulnerable, so if you are really concerned, you may want to turn this feature off, at least, when you aren’t using it.
You are particularly exposed if your password isn’t strong enough, but when you transmit signals like this over the Internet, you inevitably become more vulnerable.
You may like this feature a lot, and that’s okay. The risk is still rather low, but this is just something to be aware of. You might consider turning this feature off when everybody is home, and then switch it on when you leave the house.
4. Secure the Network Itself
One of the ways hackers will access your indoor cameras is through your wireless network, so since this is the first wall they have to break through, you should secure this as much as possible. There are a few different ways to improve wireless network security, including:
- Giving your router a stronger password
- Using a WPA2 encryption
- Updating the default SSID name to something custom
- Turning off guest networking and sharing
Another potential way to improve security is to use a network video recorder, or NVR. The NVR saves all of your camera’s recordings without accessing your network, so, this would, at least, reduce the risk of your recordings getting stolen.
5. Use a VPN
To add to the last point, you might consider using a VPN to secure your network, and this will also limit the number of devices that have access to the system that your cameras are on. By having a VPN, you ensure that only your personal devices can log in to the system, so it dramatically reduces your risk of outsiders getting control.
Consider Putting Your Cameras on an Entirely New Network
It’s also possible for you to put your security cameras on a network of their own, and there are advantages and disadvantages to this.
Obviously, if you did this, your security cameras wouldn’t be connected to the rest of your home’s smart devices, which can be inconvenient at times. However, having a separate network for your indoor security cameras ensures that hackers can’t “land and expand” or, in other words, gain access to the rest of your systems through the cameras, which they would only be able to do if the cameras exist on the same network as everything else.
This might be easier said than done, and it doesn’t really prevent hacking. Doing all of the other things listed above is enough to keep your devices secure or at least to provide you with some peace of mind.