Home security cameras are an important addition to any household, smart or otherwise, but they carry with them the risk of unauthorized access. You may have heard of cases in which security cameras from particular manufacturers have been hacked. These tools meant to make your life safer can be dangerous.
With this in mind, it is important to carefully consider where you position your security cameras, and what parts of your home you point them at. Keeping things secure is important, but so is maintaining your privacy.
Below we’ve compiled a list of five things you should consider regarding the privacy and safety of your household when pointing your security cameras. It’s amazing just how much information can be leaked!
Don’t Show Off Your Address
Potentially the most dangerous thing you can do is point a security camera directly at your door where a house number is displayed. All it takes is for a security cam hacker to check your IP address, identify the owner of that range (for instance, your ISP) and narrow down your location to find your home.
It’s bad enough that some stranger – who might be anywhere in the world – should be viewing your home. Giving them the information to find your full address invites a whole load of other trouble, and not just from prank deliveries. Would you like to let criminals know about all of the deliveries you’ve had from Amazon or Apple, while telling them where you live?
Avoid sharing your address on security cameras: make sure your house number is not in the shot.
“I’m Going Out Again…”
Another aspect of this is your daily routine. A casual hacker may move on from your security cam if they find that you’re home; a more seasoned criminal may spend a while observing your actions to establish your daily routine. Eventually, they may know it better than you do yourself.
Is this the sort of information you want a criminal to know? Of course not. But once you’re marked, it can be difficult to un-target yourself.
Vary your routine where possible, making it difficult for a hacker to establish your routine.
Is There Anyone Home?
Pointing a camera at your front door is a good idea to check who is at the door whether you’re home or not. But if someone else is viewing your front door camera, they’re going to know when you have gone out. And if you’ve been observed for long enough, they might even know how many people live in your home, and when the house is usually empty.
Similarly, if there’s a view of your driveway or any cars you owned, it won’t take long for a cam hacker to work out whether you’re at home or not.
So what do you do about this?
Employ light timers and other timed or remote-controlled smart home gear to create the illusion that someone is home.
Do You Have Enough Cameras?
Another problem presented by having your cameras hacked is that with too few cameras pointing at the property and not covering the perimeter, hackers may find that there is an uncovered entry route to your home.
This might come from a geographical anomaly, such as a small hill or tree or bush, or it might simply be a budgetary restriction. Either way, if a hacker can discover a “cold spot” that they can use to access your home without detection, then they will use it (or sell the information to someone closer to your location).
Ensure you have enough security cameras observing your property.
Smile, You’re On Your Own Candid Camera
The point of security cameras, Internet connected or otherwise, is to spot criminals attempting to intrude, not for them to see you at your most vulnerable. As a result, you shouldn’t be pointing external security cameras so that activity within the house is visible.
You might, for instance, find that your living room is within line of sight from a security camera, or worse still, a bedroom. It doesn’t matter if it’s your room or your child’s, it’s a very bad idea to present this visibility to criminals.
But it gets worse.
So far we’ve only looked at external cameras. Internal security cameras that get hacked could reveal all sorts of information, from catching a member of your household in the nude, to sharing personal and sexual habits that could be used by a blackmailer.
Avoid this by directing interior security cameras at doors and windows, and where possible avoiding bathrooms and bedrooms.
Keeping Your Security Cameras… Secure
It’s all very well highlighting these dangers and offering solutions, but ultimately what you need to do is ensure that your Internet security cameras are secure. Hacking security cameras is frighteningly simple for even amateur hackers.
Different options are available here, from ensuring that the camera’s firmware is fully up to date to ensuring your router is fully updated and the firewall enabled. You might even setup a hardware firewall.
Has your home security system been leaked online? Do you have any advice to add? Tell us in the comments.