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How to Know If Your Security or IP Camera Was Hacked

Internet-connected security cameras promise convenience – easy remote viewing and monitoring from your smartphone. But IP cameras also introduce risks if not properly secured. Unfortunately, hacked security cameras are a real and growing threat.

I‘ll outline how hackers gain access, signs your camera may be compromised, and most importantly – how to secure your home and business security cameras from intrusion.

A Growing Threat: Over 70% of Businesses Have IP Cameras Hacked

IP cameras are cameras connected to the internet to enable features like remote viewing, motion alerts and video storage. A 2021 survey found that over 70% of businesses using IP cameras have had those cameras hacked. And it‘s not just businesses at risk – consumers with home security cameras could be vulnerable too.

With an estimated 245 million surveillance cameras installed worldwide by 2021, the scale of the problem is massive. Weak passwords and unpatched software make security cameras prime targets for cyber criminals.

How Hackers Gain Access to IP Cameras

Hackers use a variety of techniques to take control of internet-connected cameras. Here are some of the most common methods:

  • Guessing weak or default passwords – Many cameras still ship with simple default passwords like "admin/admin" or "1234". Hackers easily find these credentials online and gain instant access.
  • Exploiting vulnerabilities in camera software – Like any software, IP camera firmware contains bugs and flaws. Hackers probe for weaknesses, then launch exploits to run malicious code. The Mirai botnet infected over 500,000 cameras this way.
  • Phishing site/emails steal user credentials – Hackers use convincing phishing sites and emails that trick users into entering their camera login credentials, capturing them.
  • Infecting connected networks with malware – Malware on a shared network allows hackers to pivot and scan for connected cameras. Malware can also create backdoors into the camera system.
  • Unsecured wireless networks – Cameras on open WiFi with no password give hackers easy network access. From there, they can find and attack camera login pages.
  • Physically accessing the camera – With physical access, hackers can connect to the camera‘s local network or reset it to factory defaults to own the device.

6 Signs Your Camera May Be Hacked

Watch for these indicators that your camera has been compromised:

1. Unexpected Movement

If your static IP camera moves – pans, tilts or zooms – without you controlling it, a hacker may have taken over the camera. Any unplanned motion is a red flag.

2. Changed Password

Try logging into your camera‘s web interface or mobile app with your usual credentials. If suddenly your password doesn‘t work, it may be because an attacker changed it to lock you out.

3. Unknown Logins

In your camera or app login history, look for access times and locations you don‘t recognize. Unfamiliar devices or geographic locations logged could mean a camera breach.

4. Spikes in Network Traffic

Hackers streaming video from your hacked camera can use immense amounts of data. If you notice network slowdowns or high data usage, check your camera‘s bandwidth usage for any anomalies.

5. Flickering or Blinking LEDs

The LED on your camera blinking when you aren‘t personally viewing could signify unauthorized access. LEDs that flicker irregularly can also indicate a potential hack.

6. Strange Noises From Camera

Odd sounds like voices, music, or other noise coming from a camera with two-way audio can point to a hacker actively engaging with the breached system.

Securing Your IP Camera From Hackers

Use these best practices to lock down your internet-connected security cameras:

  • Strong, unique passwords – Never use default passwords. Create long, complex passwords for every camera account.
  • Update firmware regularly – Firmware updates patch vulnerabilities. Enable auto-updates if possible or check manually.
  • Change default ports – Many cameras use default ports like 80/8080. Change to non-standard ports to avoid mass scans.
  • User access control – Only permit live viewing by authorized accounts, don‘t give full admin rights.
  • Limit WAN access – Block remote viewing over WAN, only allow camera access on local network.
  • Two-factor authentication – Add an extra login step like SMS verification code or security key.
  • Encrypted wireless – Use WPA2/WPA3 encryption on WiFi networks with cameras connected.
  • VLAN segmentation – Isolate cameras on their own VLAN to contain any intrusions.
  • VPN connections – Use a VPN for remote access to add encryption to camera traffic.
  • Antivirus/firewall – Use cybersecurity software to detect malware and block threats.

Real-World Examples of Hacked Security Cameras

To understand the risks, here are two disturbing real-world cases of breached security cameras:

  • In 2019, a hacker accessed a family‘s Ring indoor camera and used the speaker to harass their 8 year old daughter. The hacker taunted and provoked the girl in her bedroom.
  • An undisclosed company had 70 IP cameras hacked, which were used to launch ransomware across their corporate network. The cameras provided an entry point inside the business.

These examples underscore how exposed cameras jeopardize privacy, safety, and an organization‘s cybersecurity posture.

Don‘t Underestimate the Threat of Hacked Cameras

The consequences of a hacked security camera go far beyond just snooping. Breached cameras can lead to stolen data, compromised networks, identity theft, and even physical safety risks if an intruder learns your habits.

I recommend taking proactive measures to lock down your IP cameras using the advice provided. Don‘t become another statistic with a hacked camera! Stay vigilant, follow cybersecurity best practices, and take control of your home and business security.


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.