How to tell if your home security camera has been hacked


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There are few things that can make you as paranoid as learning that hackers have intruded into your home’s security camera system.

So, how would you know? How can you check for vulnerabilities?

There are a few signs to watch for if you have cameras inside or outside your home, and knowing about these signs will help you react fast if there is a breach.

Strange sounds or voices

If hackers deliberately want to make their presence known, they’ll speak through your camera using its two-way communication function. The majority of cameras offer this feature, letting people chat with whoever is at home, but you’ll instantly know something’s amiss when you start hearing strange sounds — or even voices that try to stir up conversation.

There are many stories of hackers actually talking to people inside the home. If they are talking to you, they are certainly watching you.

Take notice, even if it sounds like a distant cough or sneeze. It probably is.

The LED light is on

As a precaution, indoor cameras typically have an LED light to indicate the camera is actively being accessed by someone remotely. Seeing the LED light turned on is a dead giveaway the camera is being accessed, and an important visual element to keep people aware.

This also applies to vacationers renting an Airbnb or any other private residential rental. Look for little lights coming from places where a light shouldn’t come from.

Panning or tilting

While most indoor cameras are static, offering wide-angle lenses that cover a fair amount of space, there are a few that offer a degree of movement. Some cameras offer ‘pan and tilt’ functions, allowing people to adjust the camera’s view.

If you happen to see any movement that you did not cause, you should be concerned. Since these cameras move, there may be a sound that accompanies the movement, giving you an audible alert that something going on.

The password to your account has changed

When setting up a security cam for the first time, you’re usually asked to set up a new account with the service. When you unexpectedly realize the app doesn’t log in, it’s an indication that your camera is being hacked and your password changed. While you may receive an email stating that your password has been changed, that’s not always the case.

Most companies add another level of security by forcing users to change their passwords after a period of time, but if you can’t recall doing that yourself, someone else did it for you.

Increased data traffic

Accessing a livestream of a camera’s feed requires a fair amount of data to be transmitted, which is another way to tell if it’s been compromised.

If your camera is transferring a substantial amount of data, it’s a key indicator something’s not right — especially if it’s transmitting data during times when you know you’re not accessing it.

Start first with your router. Most newer gateway models actively monitor all the devices connected to the network. Not only can you see the amount of data being transferred by each device, but it’ll even display times throughout the day when it registers unusual spikes in data transfer.

And most times your ISP can provide you with data traffic analysis, or perhaps your security system’s monitoring service can provide those numbers. In any case, if you feel you’ve been hacked be sure and get those numbers to compare against regular day-to-day usage.

Login history with app

Some home security cameras have apps that let you check the login history of your account. This can shed some light who may be getting unauthorized access to your camera.

Whenever you log into the app using the correct user and password information, the app can store that particular device into its history log — detailing the device, date, and time when it was last used. Naturally, if you notice a suspect in the log, or an IP address you don’t recognize, it’s an indication you’ve been hacked.

Be suspicious, be safe

Do these tips seem basic? We agree.

Unfortunately, the decision to place a security camera inside your home, despite its benefits, also exposes you to a new avenue of attack. To make matters worse, the companies behind smart home security cameras often don’t prioritize security features.

Vigilance is often your only recourse. If your smart home security camera behaves strangely, take note. It might be nothing. It also might be a sign that your camera is hacked.

In each of these cases you should call the police immediately. If your system has a recording function, make sure it is turned on, and turn the recorded video over to the authorities. There are times you can catch the intruder in the act if you move fast enough.

Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!


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