Protecting IP Security Cameras from Hackers

A Security Camera monitoring a baby in a cradle
 

There have been some alarming news stories of hackers gaining access to networks and controlling camera feeds via wireless security cameras. Most notably are compromised baby monitors where parents have witnessed the camera moving on its own and unknown voices speaking to them and/or their child through the speakers. Scary and creepy, but also alarming when these hackers turn into cyber criminals utilizing an unsecured gateway to obtain personal data.

What’s the solution? Adopt sound setup, maintenance and overall security procedure for your wireless security cameras. Without proper security measures, wireless security cameras are prime targets, open to manipulation for criminal gain.

Why Wireless Cameras are Vulnerable

Wireless cameras are often referred to as Wi-Fi enabled IP (Internet Protocol) security cameras. These cameras provide wireless security coverage to monitor and protect businesses and consumers for a variety of reasons. The appeal is their ability to use an internet network connection to stream live footage to a secure online space, that can be accessed via computer or a mobile app enabling the user to observe what is happening in “real-time”. However, if not set up and secured properly, IP security cameras can also provide a gateway for hackers to invade privacy and gain access to personal networks.

 

These types of cameras are usually vulnerable due to human error. When utilizing the ether to transfer data, it is important to fully utilize all security layers provided or suffer the consequences of unwanted activity.

How to Secure IP Security Cameras

Make sure the purchased/rented camera supports encrypted connections such as SSL/TLS. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It is a digital certificate that allows a secure and encrypted transfer of data between a browser and a web server. SSL’s main purpose is to prevent hackers from sniffing sensitive information sent across the internet by encrypting it. Once the information reaches the intended recipient, it is unencrypted. Without this fundamental layer of security, there is no way for a wireless security camera to be protected.

Secure the Wireless Network

If the IP enabled security camera has SSL connections, the Wi-Fi network must be secured (including a modem and/or router).

A Wi-Fi router sitting on a desk
These connected devices must be as secure as possible, or the wireless security camera will be vulnerable to attack no matter what level the security camera itself has been built with. The best way to secure a wireless network is to:

  • Make sure that your router is configured to use WPA2 based encryption
  • Using strong passwords and change them on a regular basis

Once the wireless network is secured, make sure to setup and maintain the camera correctly.

Secure the IP Enabled Camera

The best policy is to read the manual. Do not activate an IP enabled wireless security camera before reading through all instructions and changing the default password. The use of a default password is the most common reason why hackers are able access wireless cameras. In addition to a strong, secure password, wireless camera users must:

  • Keep the firmware up-to-date
  • If possible, turn off the camera when not in use
  • Never connect to a public Wi-Fi to check the camera feed
  • Beware & delete any emails indicating the password needs to be reset
  • Do not place the camera in an area that compromises privacy (e.g. bathroom, bedroom, by an alarm system/computer where access codes are entered)

Man installing a residential security camera
Overall, be mindful when renting or purchasing an IP security camera. Wireless cameras are very convenient and easy to install, but it is up to the user to make them safe and secure. Follow the instructions, use strong passwords at the wireless network and camera software levels and practice common sense when determining the area to monito. By following these rules of thumb, hackers won’t be able to breach what you are trying to keep safe and secure.

 

SACS Consulting Provides Expert Security Assessments and Recommendations

SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., provides Physical/Vulnerability Assessments to determine the best practices when implementing security cameras to protect your organization. Please give us a call at 330-255-1101 to speak with one of our security professionals today!

 

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