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Security & privacy

5 signs your security camera was hacked – and 5 steps to prevent it

When setting up a home security system, you must password-protect your Wi-Fi and set up two-factor authentication (2FA). Hackers could take over your home network if you don’t take these necessary precautions.

Safeguards like these can help stop a digital home invasion. Hackers are increasingly breaking into home security cameras, taunting and extorting people through security systems. A security oversight on your part could open the floodgates for a hacker to launch a reign of terror on you and your family.

Scroll down for five signs that your security cameras are compromised. Once you know what to look for, you can quickly respond in case of a breach.

1. Strange sounds or unfamiliar voices

This is one of the most obvious signs a hacker broke into your home security system. One man realized his family was in danger after hearing strange voices from his daughter’s room. After putting his seven-month-old baby to sleep, he investigated peculiar noises from her bedroom.

Then, he heard a man’s voice. A malicious hacker had broken into his Nest account and taken over the smart home, from the thermostats to the 16 security cameras. Then, the hacker turned up the temperature to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can you tell if someone has access to your camera? Yep! Look out for telltale signs your security camera has been hacked.
Don’t dismiss any mysterious noises. Keep an ear out — or else. | © Aaron Amat | Dreamstime.com

If you aren’t sure how this is possible, remember that many security cameras have two-way talk features. Hackers can infiltrate the audio system and speak to you.

They could still make noises even if they aren’t so bold as to taunt you. Maybe they’re shuffling around, mumbling to themselves or something else. Keep your ears perked for sounds out of the ordinary. They’re dead giveaways that a hacker has breached your home security system.

RELATED: Want cameras to watch your house when you’re gone, but not when you’re home? Do this

2. Your security camera is moving strangely

Watch out for unusual panning or rotation. Move around in front of the camera and see if it follows your movements. That’s a surefire sign a hacker took over your security camera.

One Dutch woman caught a pervert this way. She bought a webcam to watch her puppy while away from home. Then she spotted the rotating camera swiveling to look at her — even when she was across the room. “I moved to the left and right, and the camera came with me,” she told The Sun.

Then she heard a strange voice. She said to the camera, “Get out of my house” and the hacker started sexually harassing her.

So if you ever hear a strange voice, shut your security camera off. Then, go into your app and immediately change your password. While looking over your security camera’s connected app, look for this next red flag.

3. Updated settings are one of the most prominent signs

Sneaky hackers won’t want you to know they’re in your network. They’ll quietly change your security settings. Maybe they’ll change your password.

Some arrogant hackers might even change your camera name. Maybe they’ll change your camera name to “Change your password” or “Upgrade your firmware” as a sign of mockery and disrespect.

Take the advice: Change your password before they change it for you and lock you out of your system. It’s also a sign that hackers leaked your password in a previous data breach. Tap or click here for three ways to see if your passwords are being sold on the Dark Web.

4. Your smart camera is using more data than ever before

If you have a security camera that streams live video to the cloud, watch its data consumption closely. Watch out if it’s transferring a ton of data when you aren’t using it. This is one of the most prominent signs your security camera has been hacked.

5. Your camera’s LED light is on … but you aren’t using it

Can you tell if someone has hacked your camera? Yeah!  Looking for signs your security camera has been hacked? Here's how to keep your home security cameras from being hacked.

Many security cameras use visual clues to let you know they’re in use. For example, Ring cameras have small LED lights that let you know whether they’re on or not. So watch out if you see your camera’s light blinking or flashing.

Sadly, not all security cameras have these visual cues. Maybe you bought a camera that doesn’t flash its LED lights to let you know someone’s accessing them. That’s why you should look for these other signs that your security camera has been hacked.

Now you know the signs your security camera has been hacked. What next?

So, how do you prevent it from happening? We’ve got you covered if you aren’t sure how to keep security cameras safe.

Here’s how to keep your home security cameras from being hacked:

  1. Password-protect your Wi-Fi: This is simple. If you don’t have a unique password, anyone can break in. Don’t put yourself at the mercy of bad guys. If you stick with the default password, anyone can look it up. Plus, you could get in serious legal trouble if you don’t change your Wi-Fi and router passwords from their default versions.
  2. Don’t reuse the same username and passwords: Bad guys can access many of your accounts when you do this. That’s because hackers collect your usernames and passwords from unrelated accounts when they’re exposed in data breaches. Then, they’ll test those exposed passwords against your security systems and network.
  3. Practice good password hygiene: This means creating strong, original, hard-to-crack passwords. Can’t keep track of all your unique passwords? Just use a password manager. Tap or click here to get started.
  4. Use two-factor authentication: This is a simple way to make it harder for hackers to break into your network. If a security breach exposes your password, this provides an extra layer of security. With 2FA, you must prove your identity on a separate personal device to log into an account. Here’s how it works.
  5. Turn on auto-update: You need to have the latest security features. Otherwise, old bugs could expose your entire system. So go to your phone, open the app and sign up for automatic updates, so you never miss out on the latest security boosts.

If you want more cybersecurity tips, we’ve got you covered.

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