A home security camera is a great tool for keeping an eye on your home or business. You want to make sure that only those that have permission are the ones that are accessing your home security camera. We provide some advice and tips on how to keep it secure.
Some of our advice comes from good security practices that should be in place across your network. Other tips come from personal experience in setting up my own home security cameras.
Our intent with this article is to provide a high level overview of what you should do so that it’s not an easy task for a bad guy to break into your home security camera. There are other concepts, especially as it pertains to your home network, that is beyond the scope of this article.
This is the easiest to fix and also the easiest to exploit. When we talk about passwords, it’s not just the home security password but also that on your home router, modem and anything else that is attached to the internet.
The password on your home security camera is very easy to change. The image that accompanies this article is what’s presented within the Samsung SmartCam app. This is accessed through device settings. That’s where it is for most home security cameras. Some will force you to do this through their web app but most support changing the password through the smartphone app.
It’s still amazing to see so many internet connected devices shipped with pre-configured passwords such as “admin” or “password” or, my personal favorite, no password at all. Before attaching anything to your home network, change the password. Some devices have password strength algorithms built in but some do not. Use a mix of capitals, lower case, numbers and special characters. In fact, load it with special characters. The more that you use, the harder it is to crack.
Speaking of passwords. Don’t make it a single word, use a passphrase. A few meaningless words with some numbers and special characters. Nothing is foolproof, but the longer and more varied it is, the more difficult it will be for random hackers to guess the password.
And please don’t use your name.
Many home security cameras and routers allow modification of the default administrator ID. That means the ID does not need to be “admin”. Changing the administrator ID is another secure layer of protection from hackers. The first thing hackers must do is authenticate the ID, not the password. So change it from the default that ships with your device. Not all allow modification of the administrator ID, but a lot do. Take advantage of this feature if available.
Only give an ID to people that need to access your home security camera. Many of the latest home security cameras permit multiple logon IDs and they do not all need to have administrative privileges. So if your friend wants access to your home security camera, grant one without administrative privileges. The less IDs, the better. You never know who they may share it with.
Use encryption on your home router. Not using encryption means your home network is not secure. It enables people close by, perhaps a neighbor, to see your IDs and passwords unencrypted. Most routers support WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption. Use one of them, preferably WPA2 which is the most current form of encryption.
Port forwarding is a feature found on the router that directs traffic to a particular device. It acts as a traffic cop in forwarding a request to a service. Port forwarding is a major road for hacker access. Avoid it.
Most home security cameras from reputable manufacturers such as Nest Cam and DropCam Pro do not use Port Forwarding. Instead, some communicate outbound only to their servers in the cloud. You access the video by logging into their servers, not your camera. Other cameras may use uPNP which is an acronym for Universal Plug and Play. The device takes care of your router settings for you.
Keep home security camera where it won’t be stolen. Sounds simple but it’s not.
For outdoor home security cameras, place it high and secure it with screws that are difficult to remove. Consider secure screws like Spanner Screws. There aren’t a lot of people walking around with a screwdriver that is going to match a spanner pattern. It’s a strange pattern that’s got two holes at the top. A Phillips screwdriver isn’t going to fit nor will a slotted bit. You need a Spanner Pattern Screwdriver.
Indoor cameras can be hidden behind plants or even within special cases as we outline in How to Hide a Nest Home Security Camera.
While an advanced tutorial on home network security would go way deeper than this article, we provide the basics for locking down your home security camera. Following these practices will help keep your home security camera secure.
All of these articles are written by someone (me) that figured out how to do this stuff the hard way. I have owned and tested dozens of cameras. Manufacturer support varies. There are a few good companies that provide timely answers when you have questions. There are several that sell you the camera and seem to have little interest in post sales support (which leads me to finding out stuff the hard way).