Many people understand the dangers of hackers accessing webcams. A simple fix is to place a sticker over the pinhole camera lens. Perhaps lesser known is the focus of hackers and thieves on wireless cameras used for security.
Internet protocol cameras, also called IP or wireless cameras, are often used to monitor homes and small businesses. Nanny cams are usually wireless also. If set up improperly or accessed in an unsecure manner, video data can become open to the public.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice when looking for, setting up and securely accessing wireless cameras:
• Understand the camera’s security features before you buy.
• Change the default user name and use a strong, unique password for the camera’s log in. For more on secure passwords, visit http://1.usa.gov/1tE4LLV.
• Be sure to password-protect the wireless router which the camera transmits through. To do this, you will need a camera that supports current wireless security protocols. Be aware that turning off the camera’s password requirement means your video feed will be public.
• For private, encrypted video data, be sure to turn on the camera’s encryption and access it online through a secure website that starts with “https” or a secure app.
Many cameras offer multiple-user access. Limit administrative privileges to those you fully trust. You may want a friend to access to your home security system while you are traveling with limited internet access, but only limited permissions are needed and can be easily removed once you return.
Always update the camera’s software and mobile app when prompted. Software updates often include security fixes along with feature enhancements.
When accessing your webcam via a mobile app, be sure to use a login and password. Also, log out of the app when you’re not actively using it.
Best practice for mobile devices is to require a password or PIN to unlock and use, adding another layer of protection if lost or stolen.
Even when your mobile device and camera app are secure, resist accessing your camera through public Wi-Fi. Hackers target open, unsecured Wi-Fi to exploit and compromise user data and devices.
For more tips you can trust, visit the BBB blog at www.bbb.org/blog/ or call (509) 455-4200.
By Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor