In this post, I’ll walk you through different methods on how to tell if your security camera has been compromised. Kindly keep reading…
Well, the integrity of your security cameras is vital in today’s interconnected world. But as camera technology evolves, so do the methods of hackers seeking to exploit these surveillance systems for personal gains.
The unsettling reality is that security cameras are susceptible to compromise despite all the technological advancements. This begs the question: How do you tell if your security camera has been compromised?
There are many ways of telling that your security camera has been hacked, including strange sounds coming from the camera, increased data consumption, blinking LED light, unusual video footage, and changes in settings, which we will touch on later in this guide.
Understanding the signs of a hacked security camera can help prevent further breaches and maintain the default purpose of these surveillance systems.
In this guide, we will touch on the key red flags for telling that your security camera has been compromised, empowering you to act promptly to protect your privacy and safety. Keep reading!
Why Security Cameras Are Hacked
Incorporating surveillance technology into your private space, whether home or business, has numerous benefits, one being protecting you and your valuable assets. However, typical security cameras for home use don’t have similar protection features as those found in government facilities. And while these security cameras can deter intruders, they present an opportunity for cyber-savvy.
So, why are security cameras hacked?
Security cameras are hacked for different reasons, often tied to personal gains or malicious intent. Being well-informed about these motives can help people and companies take preventive measures to safeguard their cameras from unauthorized access. Here’s why security cameras are hacked:
- Privacy Invasion: Most hackers aim to invade the privacy of businesses or individuals. They do this to spy on people, capture private moments, and collect sensitive information.
- Unauthorized Surveillance: Hackers aim to get unwarranted access to live video feeds. This can help them keep a tab on high-profile individuals or track activities for wicked purposes.
- Monetary Gain: Hackers hijack cameras to monetize the breach. For instance, they can sell links to hacked video feeds on the dark web.
- Eavesdropping and Industrial Espionage: Some hackers execute illegal activities to gain insights into essential discussions, trade secrets, and more. This data may be handy for industrial espionage or competitive business advantage.
- Burglaries and Robberies: Cybercriminals can leverage security camera vulnerabilities to be well-informed about a location’s layout, identify weak points, and plan a robbery with accurate information.
- Extortion: Some hackers breach security cameras to capture embarrassing video footage, then threaten to share it with the public unless a ransom is paid. This can be extremely upsetting to individuals or businesses.
- Data Theft: Hackers can breach security cameras to steal login credentials, financial information, and personal data, assuming your security camera is linked to a network. This stolen data is valuable to hackers for various purposes, including identity theft or fraud.
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks: Cybercriminals might breach security cameras to develop a botnet, a network of hacked devices, to implement large-scale DDoS attacks. Such attacks may overwhelm online services, triggering disruptions.
- Remote Access and Control: Hackers can control compromised security cameras to pivot into a network, access other linked devices, and proceed with further attacks.
- Exploiting IoT Devices: Most security cameras are linked to the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, which may have security flaws. Cybercriminals may use security cameras as entry points to larger networks.
- Testing Cybersecurity: Some hackers breach security cameras to test their hacking skills, while others do so to discover vulnerabilities in a network.
- Mischief: Some hackers aim to change camera settings or disrupt normal operations to bring confusion.
How Do Hackers Access Security Cameras?
Hackers with little know-how can access your security camera using different strategies, exploiting vulnerabilities in the cameras and the network they are linked to. Please read below to discover how cybercriminals access security cameras:
- Default Credentials: Most security cameras have default usernames and passwords, which can easily be accessed online. Hackers can access these credentials using automated tools to scan for surveillance systems with unaltered default credentials.
- Brute Force Attacks: With automated software, cybercriminals can repeatedly guess login credentials until they settle for the right one. Weak passwords are often cracked in this manner.
- Phishing Attacks: Hackers use this technique to breach security cameras. They send deceptive texts or emails to camera owners, luring them to share login credentials. With these credentials, hackers can directly access your camera system.
- Firmware Vulnerabilities: Outdated firmware in cameras can have flaws that hackers leverage. They can use software to play upon these vulnerabilities and gain access to your camera system.
- Network Exploits: Hackers with little know-how can capitalize on vulnerabilities in the camera’s network, including outdated routers or poorly configured network settings.
- Malware: Malicious software can be introduced into security cameras via links or infected files. Once injected into cameras, the malware can grant hackers remote access.
- IoT Vulnerabilities: Since security cameras are part of the Internet of Things, they can be used as entryways to a broader network if they have ineffective security measures. Cybercriminals can take advantage of these weaknesses to access cameras and beyond. Another method hackers use to access security cameras is by intercepting communication between the user and the camera. By doing so, they access sensitive information, particularly login credentials.
- Third-Party Services: If your security camera depends on third-party services or cloud storage, experienced hackers can cash in on weaknesses in these devices to access your security camera.
Being well-versed in how hackers access security cameras can help you take preventive steps to mitigate unauthorized access.
Signs That Your Security Camera Is Hacked
While security cameras offer numerous advantages to individuals and organizations, they can be compromised by skilled hackers. This can be dangerous as valuable information will end up in the wrong hands and be used for immoral purposes. You can tell that your security camera is hacked by looking for the following signs:
- Strange Sounds and Unfamiliar Voices: Some security cameras have a two-way talk feature, letting you interact through the camera. If hackers do not mute the sound on their side, you’ll inevitably hear strange noises or conversations through your camera’s audio feed.
- Odd Indicator Lights: Security cameras incorporate LED lights that signal their functional status, like transmitting data. If you realize unanticipated LED activity, including blinking lights when not interacting with the camera, it suggests someone else controls it.
- Unauthorized Recording: Coming across video footage in your security camera’s storage that you never authorized is a sure sign that someone hacked your camera and is using it without your consent.
- Unusual Camera Behavior: Security cameras are calibrated to move depending on user commands or predetermined patterns. If your security camera begins to exhibit this behavior independently, without any local trigger, it implies unauthorized access.
- Login Issues: Another significant red flag is difficulty accessing your security camera’s live feed, even with the proper login details. Hackers can change the login credentials to lock you out after successfully accessing your camera.
- Weird Alerts: Security cameras can be programmed to send alerts or notifications to your linked devices when they sense movement. Someone is likely manipulating the settings if you get alerts for events that do not match your camera’s normal monitoring patterns.
- Unknown User Accounts: Strange user accounts in the camera settings can hint at a hacked security camera. If you never created any of these anonymous accounts and can’t associate them with any authorized users, it shows that your security camera is compromised.
- Changes in Settings: CCTV cameras have different customizable settings, like recording modes, video quality, and the sensitivity of motion detection. Hackers can change these settings without your consent, so watch for altered settings to determine whether an external party accessed your camera’s controls.
- Unexplained Network Activity: Security cameras need network connectivity to send video feeds and data. Watch for a sudden increase in network activity in your camera when not in use. If that’s the case, it indicates that an unknown user accessed your camera and is going through the feeds.
- Battery Draining Rapidly: Wireless security cameras are battery-powered, and the best way to determine if they are compromised is by monitoring their battery. Check whether the battery depletes rapidly, mainly when the camera is inactive. If that’s the case, then someone has control over your camera.
- Security Software Alerts: Check for computer or antivirus software alerts associated with suspicious activity involving your security camera’s system. Such alerts or warnings can hint at a hacked camera system, so it only makes sense to take them seriously.
- Tampering: Look for physical tampering on your security camera, including scratches or dislodged components. Such signs precede digital breaches and can suggest an attempt to compromise the camera’s integrity.
- Unrecognized Email Addresses: Strange Email or login credentials indicate a hack on your security camera. Skilled hackers prefer to keep your details and logins the same to prevent being caught. However, some may change the details. If your login details no longer work, it may imply that your camera system is hacked. Some cameras have apps that display your account’s login history, and you can count on this benefit as you can tell who is illegally accessing your camera.
Take the following actions in case of a compromise:
- Disconnect the camera: If you suspect your security camera is compromised, disconnect it immediately from your network. By doing so, you mitigate further data breaches.
- Change Passwords: The other remedy for a suspected compromise is resetting your security camera’s account password. Use a strong password to deter hackers from easily bypassing it with sophisticated software.
- Contact support: Reach out to the manufacturer’s customer support for assistance immediately when your security camera is hacked. They should address the issue or provide guidance depending on your camera model.
Can Wired Security Cameras Be Hacked?
While wired security cameras are more secure than their wireless counterparts, they can still be hacked. Unlike wireless systems that share data over the airwaves, these are connected to the network via physical cables, making it quite challenging for cybercriminals to access. Regardless, the following vulnerabilities should be considered:
- Network Vulnerabilities: An improperly secured network presents an opportunity for hackers to access your cameras. They can exploit weak passwords and other vulnerabilities.
- Camera Software Vulnerabilities: As with any electronic gadget, wired security cameras may suffer from software vulnerabilities that skilled hackers can leverage. For instance, hackers may compromise the camera If the firmware is outdated or has security deficiencies.
- Physical Access: Hackers may directly manipulate your wired security camera if they physically access it. While this is unlikely to occur, it’s still a concern.
- Data Interception: Although wired cameras are safer than wireless systems, hackers can still obtain data if they access network infrastructure. It is advisable to keep your cameras out of reach to prevent such issues from arising.
You can quickly tell that an external party has control over your wired camera by monitoring the following:
- Unusual camera movement
- Lost video footage
- Difficulty accessing the system
Note: Ideally, no security camera is entirely immune to attacks, but solid measures can discourage hackers from targeting your system.
How to Prevent Your Security Cameras From Getting Hacked
Smart technologies offer numerous benefits, but with it comes increased security risks. Most individuals don’t realize how the Internet of Things (IoT), essentially anything linked to the Internet, compromises their security. Sometimes, the very items you invest in to protect you, like security cameras, can be deployed to gain unlawful and ill-intended access.
So, how do you prevent your security cameras from being hacked?
Well, this process involves a combination of smart practices, technical measures, and vigilance. From properly setting up your security cameras to their independent network to setting strong passwords, there are numerous measures of safeguarding your personal information. Given below are the surest ways to prevent your security cameras from being compromised by cybercriminals:
- Change Default Credentials: Security cameras frequently come with default login credentials, which can easily be cracked using sophisticated software. It would help to change these usernames and passwords to unique ones that are difficult to guess. For instance, you can establish a complex password with uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters. Don’t use basic information such as birthdays, ID numbers, email addresses, or names. Also, make the password long enough so that it’s not easily guessable.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Setting up Two-Factor verification adds an extra security layer as it will demand an alternative verification form apart from your password. It may involve sending a one-time code to your phone or email. You can also use an authenticator app because hackers can intercept your email or texts. Here’s how to set up two-factor authentication using an authenticator app:
- Download an authenticator app, ie. Google Authenticator.
- Once installed, open the account you intend to secure.
- Open settings and go to the security and privacy section.
- Choose “Set up two-factor Authentication” and proceed to secure your account.
- Lastly, open your authenticator app and scan the QR code or insert the details offered by the account you are creating to link it to the app.
After this process, the app will request an authentication code whenever you sign in.
- Update Your Camera Firmware: Regularly updating your security camera’s firmware is crucial in deterring cybercriminals from exploiting bugs and vulnerabilities already tuned in a recent firmware update. Some cameras run automatic updates, eliminating the need to do it, while others need you to monitor updates and install them periodically.
- Buy Security Cameras with Advanced Encryption: Choosing a security camera with advanced encryption is an excellent idea to keep yourself from prying eyes. Established brands address firmware and software issues and often release updates to address known vulnerabilities. Therefore, you should choose a unit from a reputable brand with advanced security encryption features like WPA2-AES, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems.
- Network Segmentation: Cut off your security camera network from vital systems to minimize possible breaches. Doing this limits direct access to sensitive information even if the cameras are hacked.
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network): A VPN is more secure, especially if you tend to access your security camera remotely. You create a pathway between your internal network and the device whenever you access your camera remotely. A VPN will hide the pathway created by connecting the device to your network via an encrypted connection, making the pathway invisible and impenetrable. Another pro tip is limiting the number of devices that may be used to access your security system. You can do this by ensuring your laptop, smartphone, and desktop are the only devices that can access the system.
- Use Cloud Access: This method is instrumental if you cannot establish a VPN specifically for your security camera devices. Many cameras now use a cloud access option, where the devices, their control, and their captured footage are hosted on a highly secure and monitored server, which you can access through the cloud. Therefore, instead of hosting the devices within your network, they are hosted on a server outside your network. Should a hacker manage to access your security camera, they will encounter a highly secured network, meaning their attempts will be unsuccessful.
- Audit Camera Settings: Regularly examine your security camera settings and access logs for unusual accounts or changes. Also, install your cameras away from anyone’s reach to protect them from hackers.
- Monitor Network Traffic: Employ network monitoring tools to monitor your security camera’s data traffic. Sudden spikes can hint at unauthorized access.
- Regularly Scan for Malware: This one goes without saying, but it’s an essential deterrent against hackers. Do periodic malware scans on any device linked to your network to avoid creating a pathway for hackers.
Preventing your security camera from hackers is a continuous effort. You can greatly minimize the danger of unwarranted access to your security camera system by enacting these measures and being well-versed in cybersecurity practices.
What to Do If Security Camera Has Been Hacked
Security cameras have a few vulnerabilities, but taking the necessary measures can help you retain control and limit possible damage. Here’s what to do in case your security camera has been hacked:
- Relax and Disconnect: After a suspected hack, the first step is disconnecting the camera from its power source or network to protect it from further unwarranted access. Doing this isolates the security camera and restricts the hacker’s control.
- Change Passwords: The next step is to create a strong camera password to make it challenging for anyone to access it without your consent. A good password should be at least 12 characters and include uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers to enhance the complexity of your password. Don’t use personal information to create passwords, like the year you were born or your phone number. A random password generator will do the trick if you find it challenging to create a password.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): 2FA is a security measure that utilizes two steps to verify your access authorization. In the first step, you’ll need to insert the correct login details, while the second one requires a unique code sent to your phone or email. Sometimes, you may have to answer security questions, which enhances the difficulty of unauthorized access.
- Keep Your Camera’s Firmware Updated: Update your security camera’s firmware to the newest version. Security camera manufacturers often share new firmware updates to keep your camera from more unique vulnerabilities.
- Factory Reset: A factory reset on the hacked camera should be the last resort. This should erase all settings, including any backdoors created by the hacker.
- Use Cameras with Advanced Security: Security cameras are not created equal, which is why you should research the security features that each unit supports. Advanced models offer top-notch encryption, while others merely provide more typical encryption tools.
- Secure Your Network: Create a new password for your Wi-Fi, router, and other linked devices to deter further breaches. You can also run a comprehensive scan for malware because the unknown user might have used malware as a pathway for the hack.
It would be better to secure your network with a strong WPA2 password. Even better, you can set up a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data, making it a hassle for cybercriminals to intercept your camera feed. The following VPNs are ideal for improving your privacy:
- NordVPN: This VPN has your back in terms of privacy. It uses AES-256 encryption and has specialty servers to keep your internet usage safe and anonymous.
- Private Internet Access: If you are on a budget, Private Internet Access may be for you. It is relatively affordable yet offers numerous privacy features, including split tunneling.
- Express VPN: This option is slightly more expensive than others on this list but offers premium privacy. It has a proprietary Lightway protocol for easy and secure connections.
- Notify Relevant Authorities: In case the hack has compromised essential data or threatens your safety, reach out to cybersecurity experts or local authorities for advice on the way forward.
- Assess the Breach: Try to figure out how the hack transpired. Was it a result of weak passwords, outdated firmware, or something else? Once you determine the cause of the hack, you can take proactive measures to deter future attacks.
Of late, cyber attacks have become more common in our daily lives. What’s worrying about this trend is their unseen nature, and that’s why some homeowners are wary of introducing Internet of Things (IoT) technology into their homes. The common worries about hacking security cameras are:
- Hackers can view live and archived video from your security camera.
- Hackers can study your property’s layout and plan a robbery.
- Hackers can attempt to compromise other devices connected to a similar network.
These concerns raise the question…
How to Tell If Your Security Camera Has Been Compromised?
You can tell that your security camera has been hacked by looking for the following:
- Unauthorized recordings
- Physical tampering
- Security software alerts
- Battery draining quickly
- Odd indicator lights
- Unusual network activity
- Changes in settings
- Unauthorized user account
- Weird alerts
- Failed login attempts, even with the correct credentials
- Strange sounds
- Unusual camera behavior, and so on.
Staying a step ahead of hackers demands a joint effort from the user and the security camera manufacturer. As mentioned earlier, you should use cameras with high-end encryption, be notified of who can access your system, enable two-factor authentication, and change your credentials to mitigate hacking incidents.