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Can CCTV Cameras Be Hacked?

Though advances have been made in recent years, many CCTV cameras remain troublingly vulnerable to attack. 

Malicious actors have developed a wide range of techniques to circumvent security protocols and access video surveillance systems.

Some use very simple exploits (that take mere minutes), while others prefer more sophisticated intrusions (that infiltrate even hardened systems). 

Though their methods may vary, talented hackers can make their way into your home security or enterprise surveillance network. 

Once inside, they can use remote access to watch the world through your cameras—or potentially even take control of them.

Raising the bar on security is the whole point of installing CCTV cameras in the first place. So, these vulnerabilities largely defeat the purpose of investing in a surveillance system.

Despite this incident raising overall awareness, many organisations are still woefully behind in safeguarding their camera systems. 

Check out Security Systems’ range of high-end Melbourne home security for your home protection needs.

To better prepare, all enterprises should understand the following three methods among the most commonly used by criminals to gain unauthorised access to CCTV cameras.

How Can CCTV Cameras Be Hacked?

CCTV cameras are one of the best deterrents against burglaries and intrusions, with law enforcement agencies encouraging their use in residential and commercial properties.

They do not just keep criminals away from your property from the fear of getting recorded, but they also provide visual evidence to catch the perpetrators. 

In addition to that, the recorded footage can also be used in the court of law as legitimate proof.

CCTV cameras are an excellent tool for protecting you and your property, but they are also vulnerable to hacking and used for spying on you through the internet.

But don't get scared. That happens only when you're not careful about using the right equipment and aren't taking the required steps to guard your privacy.

There are straightforward ways to prevent such attacks from happening that we'll discuss in a while. But first, you must understand how CCTV cameras are hacked in the first place.

Just as burglars are opportunists looking for loopholes in your security, such as an unlocked door or window, hackers work on the same principle and find vulnerabilities in your system to breach your privacy. 

They are tech-savvy individuals who know their way around the internet and its related devices.

Hacking is usually done through remote attacks that can be done from anywhere in the world – the hackers don't have to be physically near the systems to hack into them.

Once they make their way into the system, they access all your files and the system components. 

They can view, delete, steal, or alter the life and recorded footage, launch viruses, and have complete control of the system.

Some of the ways that CCTV cameras can be hacked are by:

  • Brute force: where the hackers use automated software to make repeated guesses at your passwords,
  • Spoofing attack: where they connect to your network by disguising as a trusted device, and
  • Backdoor attacks: where they search for vulnerabilities in compromised systems.

Why Are CCTV Cameras Hacked?

Not all hackers are evil. That sounds like something tough to believe, but it's true. 

The good guys, also known as white hat hackers, are professionals hired to hack into systems to gauge their privacy strengths and weaknesses.

When vulnerabilities are found, they inform the manufacturers to rectify the errors and make the necessary corrections to strengthen the system's security.

So basically, what white hat hackers do is find vulnerabilities and fix them so that the bad guys, the black hat hackers, can't exploit them when the CCTV systems are used by home and business owners.

It would help if you protected your CCTV cameras from the black hat hackers since their intentions are always malicious.

One of the main reasons why CCTV cameras are hacked is to access sensitive data. 

A hacked camera placed inside a house or office is like having a criminal sitting beside you, hearing over all your importance. 

At times, confidential conversations and getting a clear understanding of the property's layout if breaking in is what they want.

If you've seen any heist movie, you would know that hackers get inside the system to enable and disable it at will while also altering the live footage to hide what they're doing from people monitoring the systems. But, of course, real hackers do that too.

Is My Security System Vulnerable?

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Before jumping into solving the problems of device insecurity, it's helpful to understand how vulnerable your devices are.

Major professionally monitored security systems -- and even individually sold cameras from reputable developers like Google Nest and Wyze -- include high-end encryption (which scrambles messages within a system and grants access through keys) almost across the board. 

That means as long as you stay current with the app and device updates, you should have little to fear of being hacked via software or firmware vulnerabilities.

With DIY systems, customers set up their own devices, making technician access a moot point. 

But if customers opt into additional monitoring, which is often offered alongside individual products, that may complicate the issue.

In short, security companies appear to be consciously using multiple levels of security to protect customers from potential abuse by installers and technicians -- even if the processes by which they do this aren't entirely transparent. 

But even if they're practical, that doesn't mean your intelligent cameras are secure.

Understanding The Threat

Constant vigilance mixed with security intelligence is a powerful combination. All organisations should look to bolster these critical components—both internally and when partnering with companies worthy of their trust. 

By working with vendors that put security at the top of their agenda, you can rest easier knowing that both the indoor and outdoor security cameras in your facilities are protected against evolving threats.

Many organisations are beginning to recognise that traditional CCTV technology isn't built for this new, connected era. 

As a result, forward-thinking companies are increasingly looking for revolutionary solutions to strengthen the safety and productivity of their operations. 

Using the latest technology standards to unlock the potential of computer vision, modern video security providers will be the ones that help their customers solve real-world business problems—today and in the future.

How Could My Cameras Be Accessed?

To access a camera locally, a hacker needs to be in the range of the wireless network the camera is connected to. 

There, they would need to access the wireless network using several methods, such as guessing the security passphrase with brute force or spoofing the wireless network and jamming the actual one.

Some older security cameras aren't encrypted or password-protected within a local network since the wireless network security itself is often considered enough of a deterrent to keep malicious attacks at bay. 

So once on the web, a hacker would have to do little else to take control of the cameras and potentially other devices around your house.

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Hack Method #1: Default Password Access

Anyone looking to break into CCTV cameras can start by simply looking for its IP address online and logging in. 

Then, by using engines such as angryip.org or shadon.io, they can obtain that signature information and begin trying passwords that will grant access to the wireless camera itself or, if a router is attacked, entire security systems.

In theory, this should be difficult, and IP security should protect network data, but the shocking reality is that these passwords are often identical to the default factory settings provided by the manufacturer; it was known to be "12345" with a username of "admin.

Changing default passwords for a new security camera system should be a no-brainer in this day and age. 

So the lesson here is not to overlook the small details. 

All the world's firewalls and hardened network protocols won't help if an unauthorised user can log in with a commonly-used or factory-set password to gain remote access to indoor-outdoor surveillance.

Hack Method #2: Find The User Id

When CCTV cameras are harder to breach, malicious actors can instead look for the user ID. 

Hackers could then reset the account to take over and have a complete run of the device, its hard drives, and perhaps the wireless security system as a whole.

While the user id is a hashed key, we found a way to find out the user id of another user just by knowing the email, phone, or username they used while registering.

After that, you can view the live feed of the cam/DVR [digital video recorder], manipulate the DVR, change that user's email/phone and password, and effectively lock the user out.

How To Know If You've Been Hacked

It would be almost impossible to know if your security camera -- or perhaps more unnervingly, baby monitor -- has been hacked.

 Attacks could go entirely unnoticed for an untrained eye, and most people wouldn't know where to begin to look to check.

A red flag for some malicious activity on a security camera is slow or worse than average performance. 

Many cameras have limited memory, and when attackers leverage the cameras, CPU cycles have to work extra hard, making regular camera operations almost or entirely unusable at times.

Then again, poor performance isn't solely indicative of a malicious attack -- it could have a perfectly normal explanation, such as a poor internet connection or wireless signal.

How To Prevent CCTV Cameras From Being Hacked?

How can you know if your CCTV cameras have been hacked? As scary as that may sound, it is almost impossible to know, and to a regular and untrained person, it might even go unnoticed.

One possible sign of a malicious attack is if the system is performing slower than usual. When hacked, the system needs to work extra hard, resulting in the camera slowing down or becoming unusable.

Then again, this could also be attributed to a poor connection or signal, not just a malicious attack, making it a relatively poor and ineffective indicator of an attack.

That being said, it is essential to prevent such attacks from happening in the first place. You must:

Install Only State-of-the-art Equipment

You might think it is a good idea to invest in cheap knock-off CCTV cameras that you can quickly get at a quarter of the price. Well, it's not.

The money you would save on the equipment, you would risk much more by installing a vulnerable system in a compromised state.

Always purchase your CCTV cameras from a trusted source and have them installed by a certified and experienced professional security company to advise you on the best type of cameras for your property.

Secure Your Wireless Connection

To protect your Wi-Fi-connected CCTV cameras from being hacked, it is rather apparent to secure the Wi-Fi connection as well.

You can do that by giving your router a strong password, regularly changing it, using encryption, and turning off guest networking and sharing. 

You may also install a firewall between your devices and the internet connection to maximise protection.

Use Stronger Passwords

Living in the 21st century with all the technological advancements, you must surely be aware of the importance of a strong password.

What comes as a shock is that most people use the default username and password that the system came with. These are pretty easy to guess and are usually admin and 1234.

When setting up your camera, be sure to choose strong passwords since they are your best defence against hackers. 

Use something long and complex with a combination of numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters.

Don't include names, birthdays, and other personal information that hackers can quickly get off your social media accounts.

Set Up Two-factor Authentication

If your CCTV camera supports this feature, set it up to add an extra layer to your security. 

What two-factor authentication does is that when you log into your app account, in addition to asking for your username and password, the system sends a one-time password (OTP) to your phone via text, email, phone call, or authenticator app that you then enter into the app to log in.

This verifies your identity and makes sure that it's you and not someone else trying to log into your account. 

Two-factor authentication is a handy feature and must be activated on all your emails and social media accounts. If you haven't enabled it yet, do it right away!

Update Your Camera's Firmware

The manufacturers of the CCTV system will periodically send out updates that fix software bugs and other vulnerabilities. 

These updates help the system work more efficiently and protect the camera and your security from being compromised.

Some systems automatically download updates as soon as rolled out, while others require you to update them manually. 

Whichever the case, if you are serious about keeping your private life private, always keep your systems up-to-date.

Advantages Of CCTV Cameras

The thought of being hacked and your security being compromised is a terrifying one for sure. But the truth is that in this day and age, you can't eliminate the possibility of it happening entirely.

Come to think of it, most of your data is online now and susceptible to being hacked. What keeps it safe from the wrong hands is you taking the proper security and privacy measures.

The same goes for CCTV cameras. Just be super careful with how you use them and enjoy their benefits. Here are all the reasons why you must have CCTV cameras installed on your property:

Crime Deterrence

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CCTV cameras help keep your property protected from all kinds of criminals, including burglars, intruders, and vandals, since the systems play against their biggest ally; stealth. 

They actively stay away from properties with CCTV monitoring for fear of being recorded and getting caught.

Business owners can use it to avoid external threats from outside the premises and internal threats that constitute theft and damage done by disgruntled employees.

Recorded Evidence

Even if an intruder breaks into your property, the recorded footage can be used to identify, catch, and punish them, hopefully also to recover all the looted goods.

THE LAW ENCOURAGES installing CCTV cameras both inside and outside the property since it helps the police do their job better. However, special care must be taken for the installations to comply with the CCTV laws and regulations.

Remote Monitoring

CCTV cameras offer more than just the protection of your property. They also allow you to monitor and check in on your property and its occupants while you're away.

Homeowners can use it to keep a check on family members, pets, and the house in general, while business owners can use it to monitor their employees (they must be informed about it, though).

Reduced Insurance Premiums

Most insurers encourage the idea and offer discounts and reduced premiums to people with CCTV cameras installed on their property. 

It dramatically reduces the chances of it becoming a target for a crime. The less likely you are to be stolen, the less likely you are to make a claim.

The discounts and offers might vary between insurers. For most, to qualify for a discount or even make a claim, the owners must have a CCTV security system installed and have it properly maintained to ensure its effectiveness.

Law Enforcement Assistance

Law enforcement agencies around the world have benefited dramatically through CCTV cameras. 

As mentioned above, they help gather evidence against crimes and catch the perpetrators.

By installing outdoor CCTV systems, with cameras recording outside footage, you can play your part in helping the police solve crimes. Security Systems provides expert CCTV installation for your residential or commercial infrastructure.

For instance, if a nearby establishment gets stolen, you can give the police access to your CCTV footage recording the nearby area to identify the criminals.

 

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