How to protect home security camera from hackers
You’ve probably seen the stories in the news about trouble with do-it-yourself Wi-Fi home security cameras. There are home camera “invasions,” where user video is stolen from private cameras and posted to the internet, or straight-up hacking where an unknown person can access your camera and the microphone attached to it, and speak to you, threaten your children, or otherwise harass you from afar.
While these instances are rare, they do exploit certain vulnerabilities in wireless home surveillance cameras, so it’s important to know how it happens, how you can tell if your camera’s been hacked already, and how to secure your home network and evaluate whether your cameras are at risk and fix them.
How do hackers get into your cameras?
Why hackers hack security cameras is a whole separate question, but there are two common ways hackers can access wireless network information.
Local Wi-Fi network hacking
The first involves the hacker being within the range of your Wi-Fi. The hacker either guesses your Wi-Fi password or creates a duplicate or spoof network that looks like your Wi-Fi network. Next, they suppress the real network so that you sign in to their network instead. Once they have your password, they log in to your actual Wi-Fi network, and that’s where the trouble begins.
Remote hack attack
While these local attacks are possible, they’re much less likely than a remote attack. Remote attacks occur when hackers gain your actual password info. How do they get your password? Sometimes if people use weak passwords like 11111, password, or 123456, hackers can simply try a bunch of the most common and default passwords until they hit on the right one.
Alternately, hackers can mine the web for passwords gleaned from data breaches on other websites. They’ll match your email address up to a password you used on another site and, because we humans are lazy or just don’t want to remember a dozen different passwords, they know the password used on the hacked site is likely also a match for the site or app they’re trying to hack into.
Phishing is also a common way to get people’s passwords. Phishing involves the hackers sending you an urgent-sounding email or link that you click on. It will likely suggest you’ve already been hacked and need to reset or confirm passwords and email info. When you click the link and “confirm” your information, you’ve just provided it to a hacker, who can then log into a home security app and run roughshod. If they can get into one device, they start trying others (this is called “land and expand”). (Quick sidebar: never use an unexpected link to confirm any account information. Go to the site directly by typing the address into your browser and log in or load up your app and log in there. If you’re suspicious, you can also call your home security camera’s customer service number to check on the legitimacy of any request.