When Hackers Attack Your Web Cameras: How To Beat The Cyber Woes

IP Camera

The modern home abounds with smart devices invented to improve our day-to-day living; one of which is the IP (Internet Protocol) home security camera. With this, you can keep a watchful eye over your home, office, pet or children by remotely viewing a live internet video stream. Affordable, accessible, and convenient, over 350,000 IP cameras are bought each year in the UK. People seek them for the assurance of a safe home, but some are instead at risk of breaching your privacy.

The Internet and media have been flooded with distressing reports of camera hacking. Insecam – a site displaying live feeds from unsecure IP cameras – has called attention to the frequency of invasion into our private lives. With the possibility of broadcasting personal camera-feeds, reporters have rightly identified the threat this poses to our financial and proprietorial security; a threat which IP cameras are originally bought to reduce.

However, it is not an innate fault with the technology that we should question; the answer to eluding hackers is simply in knowing how you set up and monitor your wireless device.

Identifying Weaknesses & Protecting Your Device

The good news is that you do not have to be a tech-savvy expert to navigate steps towards improving your camera’s security. “Hacking” or unauthorised access is mainly achieved by targeting three typical weaknesses, all of which can be easily fixed.

Default Passwords & Settings

As Insecam has demonstrated, the primary reason for camera hacking is due to the owner’s failure to change default passwords and settings. Hacking is mostly achieved when someone searches for your camera’s IP address through public search sites, including Google, and then uses a trial and error process for inputting typical default passwords.

While companies are being prompted to remind customers to personalise security immediately, it should be standard practice for any technology user. When you get your camera home, you should start by changing all default passwords with a complex personal choice. As with any password, it should involve a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. From this point, you should be protected from random ‘scatter-gun’ hacking.

Broad Access To Personal Networks

Broad access to your personal networks can make your camera vulnerable. While this element is often overlooked, it is not enough to manage your device’s individual settings; you should also be ensuring the whole network is as secure as it possibly can be. Restricting access to your personal networks is easily sorted.

First of all, make sure you configure your entire wireless network to the top security setting. Users are typically given the option of choosing between Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), or Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2). Make sure you select WPA2 as it is the most secure of the three.

If you are using a dual-based router, it is a good idea to protect yourself further by creating separate closed networks for any device that stores sensitive information (e.g. computers used for online banking). Finally, make sure guests do not have to have access to your entire wired network. Most routers offer a ‘Guest Network’ feature which allows you to play host without leaving your data out in the open.

Failing To Update Your Security

Not all IP camera, network protocol, and firewall updates are automatic. Falling behind on new firmware and security attachments can severely impair your camera’s protection. If your device needs manual updates then it is worth creating a recurring reminder to manage this. Completing a regular audit of your wireless camera – by checking which ports, network protocols, and IP addresses it uses – will help you maintain necessary firewall limits too. This smart technology lets you tailor the security you need, but you need to keep on top of it to fully reap the benefits.

Cloud Cameras: Champion Anti-Hackers

If you are daunted by the idea of being a technical guru, but you still want to buy a wireless camera, then a cloud device may be the most secure option for you. IP cameras are best suited to the tech-savvy user who wants flexibility. If you shy away from manual configuration and monitoring networking ports yourself, a cloud package may be more manageable.

Although it can be more expensive, a cloud camera can streamline your security processes a little further; they are a product of simple design. With a cloud-based camera, you can only access your video data through a central system, avoiding the need for a specific local IP address. What’s more, your footage is no longer saved to a local drive or SD card, but instead kept behind robust encryption details, safe from prying eyes and burglars.

Upgrades can also be communicated through the cloud immediately, and installed at the click of a button to increase both the camera’s functionality and security. There is hope that cloud analytics will allow for object recognition and tailored alerts. Industry experts believe that they will soon be able to alert you when specific people enter your home. Whatever wireless camera you choose, you do not have to be a victim of hacking and can enjoy the benefits of a secure home with the smartest technology.

Devin Chawda is the Chief Executive and Co-founder of Y-cam Solutions, a British tech company that designs and manufactures affordable and easy to use remote monitoring products with an added twist: they are unique in offering unlimited free cloud storage for 7 days, demonstrating an advance in conventional CCTV systems.