Security Camera Hacking: It Can Happen to You. Here’s How to Stop It

The truth is hackers can compromise home security camera feeds, but there are ways to block spying eyes.
The truth is hackers can compromise home security camera feeds, but there are ways to block spying eyes.

August 22, 2021 – In Breaking News – CNET

Installing a Wi-Fi-connected security camera in your house won’t necessarily bring a wave of hackers to your network — but losing privacy thanks to a device’s security shortcomings is surprisingly common.

Last year, an ADT home security customer noticed an unfamiliar email address connected to her home security account, a professionally monitored system that included cameras and other devices inside her home.

That simple discovery, and her report of it to the company, began to topple a long line of dominoes leading back to a technician who had spied, over the course of four and a half years, on hundreds of customers — watching them live their private lives, undress and even have sex.

(An ADT technician has admitted to repeatedly hacking the home security cameras of 200 ‘attractive’ customers to spy on naked women and couples having sex. Telesforo Aviles, 35, from Dallas, Texas, pleaded guilty to computer fraud on Thursday. He was fired from the security company in April last year. He is said to have accessed customer accounts more than 9,600 times over a four and a half year period. Courtesy of The Atlantic and YouTube. Posted on Jan 21, 2021.)

ADT says it has closed the loopholes that the technician exploited, implementing “new safeguards, training and policies to strengthen … account security and customer privacy.”

But invasions of privacy are not unique to ADT and some vulnerabilities are harder to safeguard than others.

Whether you’re using professionally monitored security systems such as ADT, Comcast Xfinity or Vivint, or you just have a few standalone cameras from off-the-shelf companies like RingNest or Arlo, here are a few practices that can help protect your device security and data privacy.

(A group of hackers say they breached a massive trove of security-camera data collected by Silicon Valley startup Verkada Inc., gaining access to live feeds of 150,000 surveillance cameras inside hospitals, companies, police departments, prisons and schools. Courtesy of  Bloomberg Quicktake and YouTube. Posted on Mar 10, 2021.)

Is my security system vulnerable?

Before jumping into solving the problems of device insecurity, it’s helpful to understand how vulnerable your devices really are.

Major professionally monitored security systems — and even individually sold cameras from reputable developers like Google Nest and Wyze — include high-end encryption (which scrambles messages within a system and grants access through keys) almost across the board.

Kathleen Carroll, chair of the SIA's Data Privacy Advisory Board
“The security industry has been paying attention to [the issue of privacy in the home] since 2010,” said Kathleen Carroll, chair of the SIA’s Data Privacy Advisory Board, “and we continue to work to help our member companies protect their customers.”

That means as long as you stay current with app and device updates, you should have little to fear of being hacked via software or firmware vulnerabilities.

Likewise, many security companies that use professional installers and technicians have strict procedures in place to avoid precisely what happened at ADT.

The Security Industry Association — a third-party group of security experts — advises manufacturers such as ADT on matters relating to privacy and security.

Continue reading… Security camera hacking: It can happen to you. Here’s how to stop it

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