Step into any home in the country, and you may find yourself caught on camera.
Nowadays, home surveillance systems are more popular than ever. Homeowners buy them to keep an eye on their families. But with just one click, anyone might be able to watch them, too.
They might see a mom, teaching her son how to play tee-ball in a sunny backyard. Or a toddler, playing in her crib when she should be napping.
The prying eyes belong to home surveillance hackers, breaking into security systems to watch people in their most private moments.
Christina Kubecka, a home security expert, says you don’t need to be a tech genius to hack into a home surveillance system. All it takes is a few clicks of a mouse, or even just a google search, for cyber criminals to break in.
“It’s really easy,” Kubecka says. “There are even entire websites dedicated to the video feeds of certain types of surveillance cameras.”
Websites which link to thousands, allowing anyone to watch people who don’t know they’re on display. Some of these cameras have no password protection at all. They’re unlocked doors, just waiting for hackers to get inside.
“A lot of this is basic security 101. If you’re going to have a wireless system in your house, you need to know what you’re doing,” Karl Xjimenez says. He is a big fan of home surveillance systems.
His porch cameras have captured mail theft, and even a hit-and-run. But he says he takes network security seriously, so hackers can’t use his own cameras against him.
“They can be outside your house, they can find your network, they can hack into it pretty easily” warns Xjimenez.
Gabriel Covarrubias, the co-owner of Mr. Security Camera, says all it takes Is a few simple steps to keep your surveillance system safe.
“Change the default password. Number one thing,” advises Covarrubias.
Most cameras come with a default username and password. Covarrubias says the most important thing to do is to change that password. It’s like changing the locks to your front door, when you know there are copies of your key outside your home.
“Make sure you don’t just use ‘12345’ or ‘admin-admin’ or ‘password,’ because hackers are going to try that. And they’re going to get into your system like that,” says Covarrubias.
Another tip- keep the home surveillance system updated. Kubecka says running an old version can lead to trouble.
“Many times the vendor will have a security fix that fixes some sort of vulnerability, so update it as soon as you get it” says Kubecka.
If you’re serious about surveillance safety, don’t buy a system that links to the internet. This will make it harder for hackers to break in. But the drawback is, you won’t be able to view the camera feed if you’re not at home.
“I know residential people want to have eyes and ears while they’re away from their house, so keeping it off the network isn’t necessarily a feasible option for a lot of people,” Covarrubias says.
A few simple steps to boost the safety of your security system, so instead of bringing criminals into your house, your cameras will do what they’re intended to do—keep the bad guys out.
“You may not be able to stop a crime with a security camera or a security system” says Xjimenez, “But at least you’ll have a record of the event. And you can share it with other people to know who to look out for. And that’s important.”