November 20, 2019
Can Home Security Cameras Be Hacked? How Is My Privacy Protected?
How Frontpoint’s advanced technology
can stop criminals from hacking home security cameras
As more and more households turn to home security systems utilizing wireless cameras—and the threat of cybercrime grows in all aspects of our lives—many camera owners and those on the fence about using the technology are wondering: Is hacking home security cameras possible? In a survey conducted by Consumer Reports in 2018, 54 percent of Americans considered the loss of privacy a reason not to use smart devices of any kind.
The short answer to whether a camera can be hacked is “it depends.” The longer answer is complex: any device that connects to and communicates over the internet—from your smartphone to your laptop to a smart refrigerator—could conceivably be hacked.
But by using technology that has strong security features and by taking some commonsense cybersecurity steps, owners can help keep hackers out of their devices, including cameras.
How criminals attempt to hack
home security cameras
Unfortunately, not every home security camera offers the same level of protection against hackers. It’s important to choose a home security company that has a rock-solid commitment to privacy—and for users to implement additional safety measures the company recommends, such as unique, strong passwords.
There are two main objectives for hackers trying to gain access to connected home security cameras: hijacking the camera’s web connectivity and processing power for a malicious purpose like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, or to access its video feed.
In 2016, a massive DDoS attack transformed unsecured devices into botnets that rendered much of the Internet inaccessible on the East Coast by overwhelming websites with traffic. A botnet is a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without their owners' knowledge, often to send spam messages.
But for homeowners and renters, the more worrisome scenario is the threat of hackers gaining a direct line to a camera’s video feed. Usually, this is simply because people leave their cameras vulnerable by failing to change default passwords—making cracking the password as easy on some cameras as a quick Google search. This vulnerability has prompted action from lawmakers: For example, California recently passed a law that bans default passwords for all IoT devices, requiring manufacturers to provide passwords that are unique to each device or to prompt the user to generate a new password before using the product.
Another cybercriminal technique is “credential stuffing,” where hackers employ usernames and passwords obtained through other data breaches to gain access to IoT devices or the wireless router that acts as the gatekeeper to a home’s Wi-Fi network. More than 50 percent of Internet users re-use or modify the same passwords across all of their accounts and devices, according to Consumer Reports. Surprisingly, that number also includes 1 in 4 members of arguably the most tech-savvy generation: Millennials.
The advanced home security
camera technology that’s behind Frontpoint’s spotless privacy record
Wireless home security cameras rely on Wi-Fi, transmitting data through a router to an interactive service that records and streams video via a browser or mobile app. Choosing a home security company that goes to great lengths to lock down its cameras is essential to protecting privacy.
While some security cameras and services store a feed of personal moments online, Frontpoint protects users’ privacy by only recording when motion is sensed or the camera is directly accessed, and never when the camera has been placed in “privacy mode,” which renders real-time video completely unavailable. While customers can view a real-time feed at any time, the system only records the moments that people care about instead of capturing every moment in their homes.
In addition, our professional monitoring service does not view camera footage. And to ensure that no one besides account users can access Frontpoint’s video clips, we rely on 256-bit AES encryption, which is one of the protocols used by U.S. banks and the military for the protection of sensitive information.
Encryption scrambles the data the camera transmits until the intended recipient decrypts it with a key. AES-256 stands as the first publicly accessible and open cipher approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) to protect data at a “top secret” level. It is considered so secure that many experts measure the time it would take to crack it in billions of years.
All of Frontpoint’s video streams, as well as any video-device commands, are sent via a secure VPN (virtual private network) connection using this encryption. That means that even if there is no security on a home’s local Wi-Fi network—or Wi-Fi security is somehow compromised—cameras will always connect over a high-security path whether they are using the VPN or connecting directly through an HTTPS connection.
This also means that even if the servers are somehow hacked, a home security camera’s footage would be virtually impossible to decrypt - the footage will be unusable to anyone without the encryption key.
Frontpoint’s app employs password protection to prevent access from outside of our user interface. The cameras also feature advanced MD5-based digest authentication to prevent replay attacks—which is when cybercriminals eavesdrop on a secure network communication, intercept it, and then fraudulently delay or resend it to fool the receiver into doing what they want. Digest authentication is an agreed-upon method a web server can use to negotiate credentials, such as a username or password, with a user's web browser.
5 simple steps to stop criminals from hacking
home security cameras
No matter how robust a camera’s cybersecurity protections may be, every device you use, from smartphones to home computers, can be vulnerable if you let criminals in through poor security habits. According to the 2016 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, 34 percent of people don’t employ any protective measures for connected devices in their homes, and 66 percent don’t even protect their home Wi-Fi networks.
Let’s examine some simple measures people can take to safeguard their home security cameras as well as many other internet-enabled devices:
Create strong passwords
It may seem like an obvious security measure, but 15 percent of people never change the default password for smart devices they buy, including the programs that access home security cameras. If a username and password used across multiple devices and accounts are revealed in a third-party data breach, everything potentially becomes vulnerable to hackers.
When setting up home security cameras, creating a unique, hard-to-guess password and changing it regularly creates a very strong defense. Don’t tie your password to publicly available information that makes it easier for criminals to guess. Instead, consider using a phrase that consists of a string of odd words and potentially numbers that are easy to memorize but hard for anyone else to crack—and the longer it is, the better.
A password manager can help you manage an array of different passwords across all of your applications and devices, and some software even automatically creates strong ones while keeping track of them for you.
Secure your home wireless network and router against hackers
Securing your Wi-Fi network is another important strategy for protecting wireless home security cameras from hackers. Implementing high levels of encryption so no one can easily view the data traveling between your devices and turning off guest networking and sharing can be important steps toward securing all of your devices.
Installing a firewall between your Internet connection and your connected devices can also shut down hacking attempts. Anti-malware software helps safeguard cameras and other equipment from viruses and malware, as well.
Basic router security also needs to be taken seriously. Many people buy a router, plug it in, connect it to everything they need to connect, and never think about it again unless something goes wrong. But a router stands as a unique point of vulnerability in your home—a single pathway to all the wireless devices that connect to the Internet over your Wi-Fi.
Recent Consumer Reports testing found that many wireless routers “lack basic security protections.” Giving home routers strong, unique passwords and installing any router software and firmware updates that are released are crucial. Why? Well …
Stay on top of router and home security camera
Manufacturers periodically update the firmware in their home security cameras or wireless routers to address bugs and enhance performance. These fixes can solve potential security flaws, so make sure your devices remain up-to-date.
Invest in home security cameras with the most advanced
No matter how well you design your passwords and secure a wireless router, if the security camera you install doesn’t employ the highest-security encryption features, it can be vulnerable. Again, Frontpoint’s Outdoor, Indoor, Premium Indoor, and Slimline Doorbell cameras protect your privacy with 256-bit AES encryption, a protocol used by banks and the U.S. military.
Purchase your home security camera from a trusted
Not all home security cameras are created equal, especially when it comes to robust anti-hacking protections. Do your research and purchase wireless home security cameras from a trusted source to make sure the one you choose employs stringent security.
It’s also wise to avoid used home security equipment. While a bargain can be tempting, you won’t know who has previously accessed it or whether any unauthorized modifications have been made. Spending a little extra on new equipment is worth sidestepping potential vulnerabilities.
Frontpoint Security provides
the tools to use cameras with confidence
Connected home security cameras rank among the best home security investments you can make. Not only are they an effective deterrent against crime, but they're also amazingly useful. They allow you to check on your family, contractors, and even pets via any mobile device, plus see and talk to visitors at your front door or within your home.
Frontpoint protects people’s privacy by only capturing the moments they care about—recording only when motion is sensed, the alarm triggers, or the user commands it—and then encrypts the clips so only account users have access.
We give you vital safeguards to use home security cameras with confidence.
Frontpoint keeps families safer and more connected in their everyday lives. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.