Today, many consumers use cameras to keep an eye on their home, office, their pet or even their children by checking a live Internet video stream. Internet Protocol cameras (or IP cameras) have become very affordable, convenient and easy to install.
IP camera video feeds are also supposed to be private, but if your camera isn’t secured, a hacker can use them to spy on you and your family. Thieves could see when you’re not home and break in or cause other damage by peeping into your life when you think you’re alone.
Luckily, there are 4 easy tips you can take to make sure your IP camera is secure and prevent hackers from spying on your home:
Tip #1. Before You Buy, Read the Box
Make sure you purchase a camera that encrypts its video data. Without encryption, anyone can view your video feed.
You’ll also want to make sure the webcam is accessing the Internet to transmit its video feed with a secure connection. Make sure the camera supports current wireless security protocols, like WPA2 (that stands for “Wi-Fi Protected Access 2,” in case you were wondering).
You’ll also want to consider the security of the website where you view the video. Warns the FTC:
…your camera will send information beyond your home wireless router via the internet. Not all cameras provide the same levels of security for this. Look for one that encrypts your information, including your username, your password, and the live feeds. Check the label on the box or read online, or contact the manufacturer directly to see if the camera uses SSL/TLS, or some other industry standard, to protect your information in transit.
When you log in to view your video feed, make sure the website starts with “https,” instead of “http,” when you log in (the extra “s” is for extra secure!)
Tip #2. Pick a Secure, Unique Password
If your camera allows you to turn the password requirement off, don’t do it. Turning off the password is basically enabling a live broadcast of anything your camera picks up. So unless you’re producing an experimental reality show, password-protect the camera’s feed.
While we’re on the subject of passwords, make sure you choose a strong one! No pets’ names or family birthdays. Use 10 or more characters, capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols (and not just “Fluffydog1*” please).
It’s always best to use a different password for more than one website or service, and with something as sensitive as live video of your home, it’s worth the extra time and effort to come up with a unique password.
For some quick tips on creating a more secure password, click here to watch our helpful video!
Tip #3. Don’t Get Careless with the Mobile App
Some cameras let you check your video feed through a mobile app, which is great for checking in while you’re on-the-go. But remember the app might not have the same security standards as the IP camera’s website.
As a result, don’t use the app to login to your video feed through public wi-fi at the coffee shop or library.
A workaround is to use your phone’s built-in browser to go to the same page you’d use to check your feed on a computer, and enter username and password from there.
While you’re at it, password-protect your phone, just to be sure.
Tip #4. Keep Your Software Up-To-Date
Software updates are important for the security of any computer program. Updates often contain new protocols to protect you against newly-discovered viruses and other privacy threats.
Take the time to update your camera’s software, and the software associated with your mobile app. This is the best defense to protect yourself from known security threats.
Enjoy Your New Peace of Mind
If you take the time to follow these steps, an IP camera can be a great way to keep an eye on your valuable possessions or make sure the dog’s not getting into trouble while you’re at work.
Just remember, the more Internet-connected technology you use in your home, the more vulnerabilities you may face. Always do your research and take steps to protect your privacy whenever you broadcast any information over the web.
Have you ever installed an IP camera in your home or business? Does it give you extra peace of mind? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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