Can My Security Camera Be Hacked?
Security cameras provide peace of mind at an affordable price. They act as a powerful deterrent for would-be burglars. Cameras allow you to keep an eye on your family, property, and business. They also provide invaluable data for law enforcement personnel in the event you are the victim of a break-in or home invasion.
But security cameras are not infallible. Security lapses and vulnerabilities—no matter how small—can and will be utilized by bad actors. If it’s connected to the internet, it is susceptible.
Can wifi cameras be hacked? Yes.
Can wired security cameras be hacked? Also yes.
For example, multiple Ring cameras were breached in December 2019. The virtual break-ins were live streamed over several platforms. And in March 2021, members of the hacking collective “APT-69420 Arson Cats” gained control of 150,000 cameras in the Verkada network. It’s happened before, and it will happen again.
But that’s not to say hacking is inevitable. Just as the mere presence of a security system can make your place less appealing to criminals, there are steps you can take to make your camera less vulnerable to getting hacked.
How to Protect Security Cameras from Hackers
The easiest thing you can do for the security of your camera is to purchase from verified and reputable providers.
Buy from the Best
Google Nest, ADT, Deep Sentinel, Ring, SimpliSafe, Abode, and many others have a vested interest in keeping your camera secure. After all, a breach will damage both a company’s brand and its bottom line. Your safety, security, and trust are literally their business.
Additionally, these cameras typically come with powerful encryption that scrambles the data and protects it from prying eyes. Provided you keep the app and devices up-to-date—turn on automatic updates to make it super simple—you should have very little chance of getting hacked via software or hardware vulnerabilities.
And never buy a used security camera, as you have no way of knowing what modifications someone might have made.
The harsh reality is that most hacking—security camera or otherwise—happens because of weak, ineffectual passwords. Given enough time, even a novice hacker can crack a common or word-based password. Called a brute force attack, the individual simply guesses using a list of popular ones (most of which can be cracked in less than one second).
In order to prevent that, you have to create a strong password. Use a unique password for your camera that is at least 6 characters long, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use a password manager like LastPass, Bitwarden, or 1Password to both generate and save your camera-specific password. Do not reuse a password from another site or service. Immediately change the default password.
Once that’s done, set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for your camera account. Available for most products and services, 2FA requires additional information before granting access… even if someone has inputted the correct username and password. That extra “info” may be biometric such as a fingerprint, iris, or face scan. Other alternatives include a physical item like a USB key, a PIN sent to your phone via SMS, or a software-generated time-based passcode from an app like Authy. Without it, the doors stay locked.
While you’re at it, change the password for your router as well. A hacker within range can bypass a weak password and gain access to your entire network. Called a local hack, they can then work their way into other connected devices, including your security camera.
(No) Safety in Numbers
In this case, fewer is better.
For starters, limit the number of connected devices allowed on your network. You can usually accomplish this via your router’s settings. If you know you only need ten, set it at ten. The router will deny a connection to anything beyond that.
Then, limit the number of devices allowed to access your security system to you and your family or roommates. No one else.
Finally, limit the number of third-party integrations you use. Yes, smart home automation is convenient and cool, but every integration is a potential weak link. If you connect your camera to IFTTT, Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant and that account is hacked, they can then find a backdoor into your camera.
And just to be extra safe, never log into your camera account on an unsecured public wifi signal. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Now that you’ve taken some proactive steps to prevent your security camera from being hacked, you’re safe and secure, right?
Absolutely. To a degree. You’re definitely safer and more secure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your protection is foolproof. Hacking might still happen despite your best efforts.
So how would you know?
How to Know If Your Camera Has Been Hacked
What’s worse than having your camera hacked? Not knowing it’s been hacked.
The hacker may learn about confidential information—financial, medical, legal—or witness private moments. They may spy on your children or take inventory of your valuables and layout for a planned burglary. What’s more, they may try to blackmail, intimidate, or scare you. Hackers could even broadcast your live footage to others.
The list goes on. Next to doing everything possible to prevent your camera from being hacked, the second most important thing is being aware that it has been hacked as soon as possible.
Here are a few telltale signs that your camera has been compromised.
The biggest giveaway? Unexplained voices or noises coming from your camera’s speaker.
Some hackers love nothing more than revealing their presence to their victims, while others may accidentally leave a microphone unmuted while watching you.
If your camera is hacked, so is the 2-way audio standard on most models. Listen carefully.
Strange Account Activity
Another indicator is suspicious activity on your profile. New passwords, unknown logins from unknown locations, modified permission levels, renamed devices, or virtually anything else that you or another member of your household didn’t do is cause for concern.
Increased data consumption? Inexplicable recordings? Increased focus on one family member? These are red flags, too.
Get in the habit of frequently logging in and checking your dashboard.
Many security cameras allow you to zoom, pan, tilt, rotate, and more. You can control what the camera focuses on and change it remotely.
If you’re positive the camera was in a different position before, you might be looking at a hack. Unexplained movement is a surefire signal that someone other than you has taken over.
Many cameras incorporate a system of LED lights to indicate when something is happening. It might be a red light to show that it is on, a yellow light to denote that it’s recording, and so on.
If you notice an LED light turning on or changing colors for no apparent reason, it may be under the control of a hacker.
What to Do About a Hacked Camera
If you think or even suspect a hack, unplug your camera and immediately change the username and password. Notify your provider.
You may also want to check other technology on your home network. Changing passwords is a minor annoyance compared to the damage that hackers can do when they own your data.
If you use a service that protects your personal information, now is the time to raise the alarm.
The Quest for Unhackable Security Cameras
Does a hack-proof security camera exist? Perhaps.
But some are definitely less likely to be hacked than others. Deep Sentinel uses top-quality encryption, 24/7 professional monitoring, and restricted integration with third-party services in order to make wireless security cameras that are as unappealing to hackers as they are appealing to consumers. Your security is our top priority.