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Safety & security

5 steps to keep hackers out of your home security cameras

During uncertain times, we all want to feel safe at home. Luckily it’s easier, and more affordable than ever to get that peace of mind with a home security system.

Why? Smart home ecosystems. Between video doorbells and networked security systems, smart home product manufacturers are finding new ways to implement tech in cheap, consumer-friendly packages.

But with more people adopting networked security cameras, the risk of hacking becomes much larger. And if a hacker gets into your system, they can turn your cameras against you and watch what you do. Here are the steps you need to take to keep them away.

Getting a head start with a solid security system

If you don’t have a smart security system installed in your home, they’re now much cheaper and easier to set up than in previous years. You can configure them to work with your phone, too, so you can easily peek at your camera feeds no matter where you are.

If you want something easy to install and even easier to use, go with our sponsor, SimpliSafe. Its smart systems protect your home 24/7 with specialized equipment like alarms, motion sensors and cameras.

Protect your home with the security system that protects Kim and her family, SimpliSafe. Visit SimpliSafeKim.com today for free overnight shipping.

1. A firm stance on firmware

Most security cameras available today offer some kind of internet connectivity feature for remote access and updates. This allows the manufacturer to keep them up to speed with the latest security patches and bug fixes. Without frequent updates, your camera could be carrying an exploit a hacker could use to break in.

Some cameras automatically download and install updates, but not all of them. To manually check for updates on your camera’s end, open the app or software that came with it and navigate to the Settings menu. Under “About,” “Security” or “Software Update,” you should see the option to check which version you’re on and install the latest patches.

If you’re worried about staying current with your software due to glitches and bugs, don’t be. Unlike Microsoft and Android updates, which are notoriously buggy, the updates for your security camera protect digital eyes throughout your home from being hijacked. Never give them the chance.

PC user? Tap or click here to find out what was wrong with the latest Windows update.

2. No more weak passwords

Phishing attacks are on the rise across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means the old passwords you share across multiple websites aren’t going to cut it anymore. Tap or click here to see how bad the phishing problem has gotten.

As one of the most sensitive pieces of equipment you own, your security camera can be a gateway into your private life. Here’s what you should do to make your password as strong as possible:

  • Use long and complex passwords that alternate between letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Don’t use personally-identifying information like your name, birthday, pets name or hometown. These are easy pieces of data for hackers to find, and once they do, they can compromise your system easily.
  • Avoid common or simple passwords, no matter how tempting they may be to use. Options like “password1,” “12345” and “letmein” are absolutely out of the question and are considered some of the weakest passwords on the web. Tap or click to see the worst-ranked passwords of 2019.
  • Don’t use any passwords you share with another account. If that account is compromised, hackers will try to match that password to as many of your other accounts as they can.
  • If the option exists, use two-factor authentication for your security camera. We’ll have more details on setting that up below.

For more steps on creating even stronger passwords, tap or click here to read our complete security guide to passwords.

3. Use a password manager so you never forget a thing

Now that you’ve got a strong password set up, you need to have it memorized so you don’t forget it. If you can’t do that, don’t worry — a password manager can do it for you.

Password managers use secure, encrypted software to hide your password from prying eyes. The only thing you’ll need to remember is the password to the manager itself.

When it comes to choosing a password manager, we recommend our sponsor Roboform. RoboForm securely stores all of your passwords and logs you in with a single tap or click.

Roboform is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Save 50% on RoboForm Everywhere and manage your passwords with ease and security when you use discount code KIM50 at checkout.

4. Use two-factor authentication (if your camera can do it)

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your camera setup. You’ll get an alarm any time someone tries to log in without your permission or from an unknown device.

To set up 2FA, you’ll need your smartphone handy. When it’s enabled, you’ll get a text message with a code to enter every time you log in. Without the code, you won’t be able to access your camera. It’s that simple. And if a hacker gains access to your account, they won’t be able to get into it without your phone physically in front of them.

Several brands of home security camera offer 2FA, but not all of them. Below are steps to set up 2FA.

For Amazon Cloud Cam:

  1. Open your Amazon account and go to Advanced Security Settings.
  2. Click Get Started to set-up two-step verification.
  3. Add your primary phone number (or download and configure an authenticator app) and click Send code.
  4. Enter the code, click Verify code, and continue.

For Nest:

  1. On the Nest app home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Select Account, then Manage Account.
  3. Tap Account Security.
  4. Select 2-step verification. Then tap the switch to toggle 2-step verification On.
  5. Follow the prompts to enter your password, phone number and the unique verification code sent to your phone.

For Ring:

  1. Open the Ring app and tap the three-lined icon on the upper-left corner of your screen to open the side menu.
  2. Tap Account.
  3. Tap Two-step verification under enhanced security.
  4. Tap Turn on Two-step.
  5. Enter your password.
  6. Enter the mobile phone number you wish to have the two-step authorization code sent to.
  7. Enter the six-digit code that was texted to your phone.
  8. Tap Continue.

5. Regularly check your network for uninvited guests

If your security camera is web-connected, that means it can be compromised through your existing network setup. Your privacy is important, so it’s worth knowing who else might be logged in.

To see all the devices connected to your network, open your router’s settings menu. This can be accessed by typing your IP address into the address bar of your web browser. You can usually find this address on the sticker attached to the bottom of your router, but many use the default address of 192.168.1.1.

Then log in with your username and password. This is either the default username and password for your router, or a unique login you created when you set up the router for the first time. If you’re unsure what your login is, call your ISP for assistance.

Look for an option that looks like “Attached Devices,” “Connected Devices” or “Client List.” This will show you all the gadgets using your web connection, so scroll through the list carefully and note anything that you don’t recognize. Usually, you can kick them off from this menu as well.

If you see any names or devices that look out of the ordinary, get rid of them. The last thing you need is someone peeping on you when you least expect it.

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