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There are several signs that may indicate that someone hacked your security or camera. These signs include unexpected camera movements, increased data usage, unrecognized logins, and more.
Vulnerable security systems and hacked IP cameras can reveal sensitive information about you and your family. Investigating further after you notice any of these signs is essential to ensure your security camera is protected from hackers.
Let’s explore the signs of a hacked security camera you should look for and tips on how to protect your security camera (including securing your Wi-Fi with the best virtual private networks).
6 signs of a hacked security camera
How to protect your security camera
18 IP cameras to watch out for
Hacked security camera FAQs
How do hackers access security cameras?
One of the most common types of video surveillance cameras is IP cameras. These are cameras that can deliver video footage using a local computer network, which allows you to access them via other devices such as your phone, laptop, or more.
IP security cameras can give you a live view of what is happening without needing to use a local video recorder and sift through the footage. However, they can be vulnerable to hacks because they’re connected to your local network.
There are two ways cybercriminals can gain access to your security camera:
- Access the camera locally: This means a cybercriminal has to be in the range of the network signal to carry on their hack, which may involve guessing passwords or finding networks with no password protection.
- Access the camera remotely: This means that a cybercriminal manages to access your camera over the internet by finding your login credentials or other information that allows them access. A hacker may gain the access they need using a phishing email to acquire login credentials or other personally identifiable information. They may also find your leaked passwords from other accounts and attempt to log in with them.
6 signs of a hacked security camera
There are several signs of a hacked camera, yet you may not immediately notice that a cybercriminal gained access unless you’re attentive to the signs. Being aware of the following signs can help you catch a potential security camera hack quicker.
1. Unexpected or unplanned camera movements
Your security camera may be static or can move on demand, depending on the model you have. Some cameras can pan or tilt to give viewers better views of the surroundings. If you find that your security camera seemingly moves on its own accord in a manner you didn’t set up or plan, it can be a sign of a potential hack.
2. The previous password no longer works
Once a cybercriminal gains access to your security camera, they may change the password to lock you out. You may notice this when you try to log in but find that your password no longer works. Your security camera company may also send you an email saying that your password has been changed. This email could be a sign of a hack if you didn't change your password yourself.
3. Unrecognized logins
A hacker may avoid changing your password to minimize their footprint. That being said, some security camera accounts keep a history of logins. This history includes a record of every successful login attempt, the device used, the date, and the time. This is a valuable tool to monitor your account and ensure every login is authorized. If you notice logins you didn’t do, your security camera may have been accessed without your consent.
4. Higher data usage
When hackers gain access to your security camera, they may use a noticeable amount of data to transmit a live stream to a different location. Keeping track of your data consumption can help you notice unexpected increases. Depending on your network, you may also notice a slower internet performance.
One way to tell is by checking the data traffic of your router or camera app. Many devices and software track how much data each device uses. You can evaluate your usage and determine whether there are any high-traffic anomalies.
5. Blinking camera light
Many home security cameras come with LED lights. When someone accesses the camera, it turns on and starts to blink. This helps people recognize if someone is viewing the camera feed live. If you notice a blinking LED light while you and other authorized users aren't checking the feed, this may be a sign that your camera is being accessed by an unauthorized party.
6. Sounds coming from the camera
Some security cameras have a two-way talk feature that lets you communicate with people you see on the video feed. Some hackers may take advantage of this feature to start playing music, make strange sounds, or even talk to you.
How to protect your security camera
It’s crucial to secure your camera and regain full control of it if you notice one or more of these signs. You can also take several steps to reduce the likelihood of a security or IP camera hack in the future.
1. Secure your Wi-Fi network
An unsecured Wi-Fi network is not only a threat to your camera but to all electronic devices connected to this network. Make sure to secure your network using a strong WPA2 password. You can also take this a step further by setting up a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN tool can encrypt your data, which makes it difficult for hackers to intercept your video feed. We recommend the following VPNs to enhance your privacy:
- NordVPN: When it comes to privacy, NordVPN has your back. It uses AES-256 encryption, passed our DNS and WebRTC leak tests, and comes with specialty servers (like double VPN and obfuscated servers) to keep your internet usage secure and anonymous.
Get NordVPN | Read Our NordVPN Review
- Private Internet Access: On our list of best VPNs, we named PIA as the best for affordable privacy due to its low starting cost of $2.03/mo. Despite the low price, it comes with plenty of privacy features like two types of kill switches, split tunneling, and even double VPN.
Get Private Internet Access | Read Our Private Internet Access Review
- ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN is the most premium service on this list, and it provides premium privacy too. It comes with standard privacy features, like a kill switch and split tunneling, but it also has its proprietary Lightway protocol for quick and secure connections.
Get ExpressVPN | Read Our ExpressVPN Review
- High-quality VPN offering safety and speed
- Loads of servers for multiple connection options
- Works with popular streaming services, including Netflix
- Too many confusing plans
2. Create a strong camera password
Using a strong password makes it more difficult for someone to access your network unauthorized. One of the easiest and most common ways for someone to hack a security camera is by testing common and weak passwords until they find the right one. This can include simple passwords, such as 123456, or reusing login credentials you use on different accounts or devices. Here are a few steps to learn how to create a strong password for your security camera:
- Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols
- Create a unique password you don't use on other accounts
- Change the default username and passwords right after you install your camera
- Change your password periodically
- Use a password manager to generate unique passwords and keep track of them
3. Turn on two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is a security measure that uses two steps to confirm your access authorization. In the first step, you provide the correct login credentials. In the second step, you provide a unique code sent to your phone number or email address. In some cases, you may be presented with security questions to answer.
Setting up two-factor authentication for your security camera drastically increases the difficulty of unauthorized access because hackers rarely have access to both login credentials and authentication keys.
4. Keep your camera’s firmware updated
Make sure to keep your camera's firmware up-to-date. Security camera manufacturers frequently share new firmware updates to protect your camera from newer security vulnerabilities.
Set up your security camera to automatically update when a new version is released. If your camera doesn’t have this option, set a reminder to check for new updates regularly.
5. Use cameras with advanced security
Not all security camera systems are equal. That’s why it’s essential to research the security features each system supports.
Some security cameras offer high-level encryption, whereas others only provide more basic encryption tools. Some security camera manufacturers also offer more regular updates to their security features, which helps better protect your system.
6. Limit IP addresses with access to your camera
You may be able to customize your security camera settings to only allow specific IP addresses to access it, depending on the camera model. Even if a hacker manages to have the correct login credentials, this measure can block them from gaining unauthorized access.
18 IP cameras to watch out for
IP security cameras often have default usernames and passwords. Although you may think this is secure, it's not.
These default login credentials are widely available on the internet, and criminals can use them to access your camera. That's why it's crucial to change default usernames and passwords to unique credentials as soon as you install your camera.
The following IP cameras come with default usernames and passwords that need to be changed because the default credentials are easily found online:
There are other IP security cameras that come without any login credentials. They remain fully exposed until you set up a password. Here are some of the IP cameras without default password protection:
These IP security cameras have default settings that make them easy to hack. However, you can change the default login credentials or set up password protection to make it more secure.
Hacked security camera FAQs
What does the blinking red light on a security camera mean?
The blinking red light may indicate that the camera is on or is recording, depending on the manufacturer. The red light also helps infrared cameras use night vision. Cameras that provide 24/7 feed may have a red light that stays on as long as the camera is connected to a network. Other security cameras may only use their red light when they sense motion.
Can a Wi-Fi security camera be hacked?
Yes, a Wi-Fi security camera can be hacked. Using a weak Wi-Fi or camera password likely increases the likelihood of a hack. That’s why it’s important to use strong passwords. Some additional measures you can implement are regularly updating the camera and using two-factor authentication.
Can IP cameras work without an internet connection?
IP cameras can work without an internet connection, but you will need a connection to the local computer network over Wi-Fi or by using an Ethernet cable. Using your IP camera without connecting it to the internet can limit some of its features. For example, you will not be able to view your home camera feed from work.
Security cameras have many benefits, such as deterring crime or monitoring your home and its surroundings. But as with any other electronic device, your security camera needs to be protected to ensure no one gains unauthorized access.
Implementing cybersecurity measures such as using the best password managers, activating two-factor authentication, and regularly updating your camera’s firmware can help you limit data breaches and protect your security camera.
- Strong encryption and security
- User-friendly interface
- Free version is limited to one device at a time