In this day and age it is no surprise that devices on the internet are under attack from hackers and automated computer programs called bots. In order for users to remotely view their security cameras the recorder or cameras needs to have an internet connection. However this means that security cameras and systems are vulnerable to potential attacks. Fortunately there are many things that homeowners and business owners can do to prevent their security cameras from being compromised.
Purchased from a Trusted Source
The saying “don’t be penny wise and pound foolish” fits perfectly here. Inexpensive cameras from Amazon, Wish, and AliExpress not only have poor quality hardware but also poorly designed software to keep manufacturing costs low. The situation is similar to counterfeits on Amazon that can be harmful. Cost cutting manufacturing comes at the expense of the user. Several brands of cameras are sold at such low prices and most often lack critical research and development to keep them secure from internet based attacks.
Hackers are able to exploit oversights in poorly designed software that leads to widespread vulnerabilities. If you're curious to learn more about specific attacks, search for common brands like Ring hacks and Nest hacks. There are also websites that document compromised security cameras from around the world. Some websites that are more nefarious provide login information to hacked cameras or display video from hacked cameras for the world to see.
Passwords, and 2-Factor Authentication
Password security is so important that it is taught to children in elementary schools. Passwords are usually the first line of defense for preventing unwanted access to computers and IoT devices. We recommend setting unique and strong passwords for every device you own. Using a reputable software based password manager can be a good way to keep passwords secure and prevent them from being forgotten or lost. Do not share passwords with anyone who you do not trust, or who may share it with others. Changing passwords at least every 90 days to 6 months can also help to bolster password security.
Don’t forget to secure email and social media accounts with strong passwords as well. Many times it is not the password on a security camera or system itself that leads to a hack, it is the recovery email account that is stolen first. Check this website Have I Been Pwned to see if your email account or password is already compromised and is floating around on the internet.
A second line of defense to password security is called two-factor authentication (2FA). Two-factor authentication works by requiring a separate device, usually a smartphone or aptly named authenticator App, to allow a login to happen. You may already be familiar with two-factor authentication when you login to your bank account online and they text you a security code. Set up two-factor authentication on your email and any other device that supports it for an extra layer of security.
Secure WiFi Network Access
Unfortunately using WiFi or wire-free security cameras for convenience adds another point of attack. Although hackers have to be physically present near the devices, it is not out of the ordinary for WiFi networks and devices to get hacked. To protect WiFi cameras and networks we recommend updating the software on your WiFi router and internet modem. If your modem or router has no updates available then it may be a good time to consider replacing them. Also, do not freely share your WiFi password. If you have visitors who want to use your WiFi then we recommend setting up your router’s guest network instead of sharing the main network password. Guest networks also have restrictions in place that prevent hackers and visitors from snooping around.
Take Charge by Purchasing Professional Products
Consumer based products that are designed for quantity of sales over quality of the product are less secure than professional products. Flashy marketing and cost saving manufacturing processes leave a lot to be desired when it comes to cybersecurity. Many cloud based security systems don’t offer the owner much control over their recorded footage or where that footage is stored. It is important to consider investing into a professional security system that requires hands-on configuration with a recorder located on premises. While using cameras that are “hands off” may sound like a good idea for convenience; it's important to understand they are less secure. Managing a professional camera system may sound like a chore but having more control is absolutely necessary for the protection of your physical security devices.
Check for Firmware and Software Updates
Always check with the manufacturer or vendor you purchased from for updates to the software or firmware for your security cameras or security system. Updates may provide fixes to critical vulnerabilities or exploits that can be used by hackers. Some devices are able to check for and download updates directly from the internet.
Beef up your Network Security
The Internet connection and local computer network are the gateway for security cameras and recorders. If the network is compromised and widely open to the world for hacking, it makes it easier for hackers to attack cameras and other IoT devices inside the network.
Managing your own network with a good firewall and having an IT professional audit your network is a great way to get started. Checking your router to ensure that the firewall is enabled, and configuring strict settings is one of the first steps you should take. A good common practice is to deny access from foreign IP addresses. For example, ban IP address ranges originating from countries like Russia and China who notoriously target security cameras and systems.