Can Home Security Cameras Be Hacked? | Safety.com

Can Home Security Cameras Be Hacked?

Many home security systems are professionally monitored. When an alarm sounds, the monitoring company may pull up a live camera feed to assess the situation. But what if other people could also watch your camera feeds? Hacked cameras pose frightening security and privacy risk. Learn what to do if you're wondering, "Is my camera hacked?"

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Yes, it’s possible for home security systems to be hacked. Hacked cameras are among the most commonly hacked pieces of security equipment, but if a hacker can access your camera, they can usually access other devices, including smart door locks. However, there are a number of steps you can take to strengthen your home security system against hackers.

How Do Security Cameras Get Hacked?

How Do Security Cameras Get Hacked?

Thanks to wireless and cellular technology, many modern security cameras can be accessed and controlled by the owners via smartphone apps. The owners simply log in to the app with their username and password. Then, they can view live camera feeds, talk to family members through cameras with two-way audio functions and control their smart devices. (Note that the exact functionality of these apps depends on the equipment and the service plan.) 

A hacker can download the same smartphone app and gain access to any security system by entering the correct username and password. They often hack into data records or leaks to find your name and other identifying information, which they use to guess your login information. The easier it is to guess your username and password, the easier it is for a hacker to gain access. 

However, even systems that don’t connect to a smartphone app or computer program are still at risk of being hacked, especially if they use wireless technology to transmit data to the professional monitoring center or to store information in the cloud. In this case, the hacker can gain access to the center’s servers to view your cameras.

How Can I Prevent My Security Camera From Getting Hacked?

How Can I Prevent My Security Camera From Getting Hacked?

You can prevent your security camera from getting hacked by creating a username and password that are difficult to guess. For example, don’t use a username that includes your family’s name, and don’t choose an obvious password like “security.” Create login information that you never use anywhere else, just in case your data has been exposed in a prior breach. In case you or your loved ones need help remembering, write the username and password on a piece of paper rather than storing them as a document on your phone or computer. Change passwords regularly and keep your camera’s firmware up to date.

It’s also a good idea to shop around and ask different home security providers how they prevent hackers from accessing data and camera feeds. They should be able to easily talk to you about firewalls, encryption and geofencing. The best home security system providers also require two-factor authentication during login, which creates a significant barrier to hackers. After logging in with your username and password, a second verification code is sent to a device or account to which a hacker would not usually have access, typically through an email address, text message or phone call.

How Can I Tell if My Security Camera Has Been…

How Can I Tell if My Security Camera Has Been Hacked?

If you notice something suspicious, you might be wondering “Is my camera hacked?”. Some hackers seem interested in playing tricks on families and will make their presence known. Maybe you’ve been hearing odd noises around the house, or your smart devices (such as the lights or the thermostat) are getting turned on and off without you touching them. These are all telltale signs of hacked cameras.

However, other hackers keep a low profile and quietly watch your family. Note the position of your security cameras and periodically check to see if they have rotated as if someone is trying to get a better view. If you do not keep your cameras running all the time, be sure to note whether the LED light, which signals that the camera is on, remains off when the camera is not meant to be in use. Take a look at the settings in your administrative account or app to see if any options — like encryption or two-factor authentication — have been mysteriously disabled.

What Should I Do If My Security Camera Gets Hacked?

What Should I Do If My Security Camera Gets Hacked?

If you believe your security camera has been hacked, immediately change the password on your administrative account. Then turn off the camera. If you subscribe to a professional monitoring service, alert them to the problem and ask for additional assistance in securing your system. If you self-monitor all alarms and notifications, contact the camera’s manufacturer to inform them of the breach. You may also want to take advantage of any kind of equipment warranty in order to exchange the camera for one with a firewall and encryption, if possible.

You can also call your internet provider to ask if your router is encrypted. It’s best to cover all of your bases where hackers are concerned. If you are not satisfied that the manufacturer, professional monitoring service and internet provider are able to bulk up your system’s defenses to prevent another hack, consider switching to a different company.

Consider filing a police report as well, especially if you feel like you are in danger from the hacker. Some hackers have made families and their children very uncomfortable — such as the hacker who used the two-way audio on a family’s security camera to make a fake missile strike announcement. Authorities won’t have a chance to investigate or catch such people if they aren’t aware of the problem.

Conclusion

Conclusion

Asking “Is my camera hacked?” can put a knot in your stomach. You purchased a home security system to feel safe in your home, and it can be devastating to feel like it’s invading your privacy instead. If you work with a reputable security company to purchase surveillance cameras with built-in security measures, frequently change your password (and make it complicated) and keep your internet router, phone and computer up to date on the latest encryption protocols, you can help prevent hackers from accessing your cameras and smart devices.


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Safety Team

The Safety Team is a group of experts that handle provider research, product reviews and recalls to make your home safety and security search as easy as 1-2-3.