How to Prevent the Hacking of Security Cameras

You want your customers to feel safe and secure doing business with you. But hackers could be peeking into your store, office, finances, or credit card transactions. If you have cameras – including cell phones – anywhere in your business, someone could be watching you right at this moment.

Cyber crime has risen dramatically in the past several years, becoming the world’s latest epidemic, according to crime research. Hacking spreads quickly, like a disease, and it’s hard to prevent or cure. It’s considered a form of electronic eavesdropping and is forbidden by the Federal Wiretap Act, however, it’s extremely difficult for law enforcement to track down hackers.

How Hacking of Security Cameras Works

Hackers are tech-savvy criminals who look for holes in your security. Like a robber who looks for an open window, a hacker seeks an open network where something of value sits. Unlike a robber, a hacker doesn’t need physical access to your location.

The hacking of security cameras is mostly done through remote attacks from anywhere in the world. After finding a way to slip in, hackers can view your files, steal photos and video, launch viruses, find passwords, control your devices, and create massive chaos in your systems.

Some attacks are more sophisticated than others. Brute force attacks are a basic type of attack where a hacker makes repeated guesses at your password using automated software.

Data breaches expose sensitive data like bank account numbers, credit card information, and personal details. These attacks can make headlines and harm a company’s reputation. Yahoo and LinkedIn have had some of the largest data breaches of all time – but breaches aren’t limited to large or web-based businesses. All businesses are vulnerable, and settlements for class-action lawsuits can be millions of dollars.

Now, you may be wondering what data breaches have to do with the hacking of security cameras.  Well, if a company you do business with is hacked, the password you use to log in to your account with that company might be compromised.  If you also use that same password elsewhere (as is often the case), then those accounts could also be compromised–including the account you use to access and control your security camera remotely.

Data breaches are, in most cases, not something you can do much about because they mostly affect the companies you do business with rather than your company.  However, what you can do is make sure that you aren’t using the same password in multiple locations, and you can also sign up for an identity theft monitoring service that helps track if someone is using your information for nefarious purposes.

Why Do Hackers Attack Cameras?

You might be wondering why a criminal would want access to cameras in your business. Most of the footage obtained through the hacking of security cameras would just be uneventful day-to-day operations at your company. But for a moment, imagine viewing your business as a hacker does. Could they peek over shoulders and see credit card numbers? Could they monitor private conversations about company financial data? Could they observe when your employees come and go so they’ll know when your office sits empty?

How to Identify Hacked Cameras

It’s actually hard to know if cameras have been hacked. System slowness is a top indicator. Keep an eye out for alerts and codes, and report them to your security system provider. Watch the positioning of your cameras too. If you know your cameras are normally pointed at certain areas, check footage frequently to see if their angle is being manipulated. And if you suddenly lose connections, footage, or archived files, this could be an indication that a hacker has accessed your system.

Protect Cameras From Hacking

Hacking is difficult to detect, but you can take preventive measures against it. Here are some tips for protecting your network and devices:

  • Never Purchase Used Equipment. Work only with a reputable security firm and don’t set up your system with used equipment. Any used device could have spying and hacking software built into it by a previous owner. In fact, it could be infected without the previous owner even realizing it.
  • Create a Password Policy. Require all employees to use passwords, and make sure passwords are changed frequently. Set policies that prevent holes in your security plan. For example, if a clerk puts the system password on a post-it note next to the computer, a camera hacker could see it and access the system.
  • Run Recommended Software Updates. Hire a professional to manage your security system and do all updates they recommend. Out-of-date software opens doors to thieves.
  • Secure Wireless Systems. Make sure your company’s wireless network is secure. WiFi access might need to be restricted to known devices and it should definitely be password-protected. If your system is large, consider dedicating a wireless network to it. You can also purchase the latest sophisticated equipment that resists jamming by spreading transmission across various channels. Some businesses opt not to use web-based cameras at all, preferring a closed system. Ask your security company for advice about locking down your network.
  • Monitor Your Users. Your employees are, unfortunately, a weakness in your security plan. They are capable of leaking sensitive data that can be used by criminals. Did you know that the biggest bank heist of all time wasn’t done in person, but by hackers? They used social engineering – psychological techniques – to carefully pull information out of bank employees to steal $81 million. Manage social engineering by keeping an eye on your system’s users and insisting that they abide by security rules.

Protecting Personal Cell Phone Cameras

Every cell phone is also vulnerable to hackers, including those for personal use. Imagine that an employee’s phone camera is hacked. As your employee checks texts throughout the day, a criminal could be looking through the camera at confidential forms, data, passwords, and areas of your building.

Cell phone developers work diligently to prevent hacking. The iPhone is known as the hardest phone to hack, but it can be done with money and patience. Some Android phones are more vulnerable than others due to a security flaw in out-of-date software. Virtually any mobile device can be hacked using instructions and software found on the internet. Google it. It’s a bit terrifying. So consider limiting employees’ use of personal cell phones in your business, and work with your security company to protect all company devices.

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