We’re not trying to creep you out, but someone may be watching you back home, on the street, or in your office… you name it, wherever you are there may be eyes on you. This isn't a scene from a science-fiction movie, either, it's what the current technology of web-connected cameras enable hackers to do.
The market for security systems has been in an upswing for years. In fact, often-cited market research company MarketsAndMarkets estimates that the security camera market will grow from $1.75 billion in 2015 to $2.68 billion by 2020. Another market research firm IHS estimates that 98 million surveillance cameras and almost 29 million HD CCTV surveillance cameras will have been shipped worldwide in 2017.
Such cameras, however, are a double-edged sword: if not configured properly, the security system can be changed into a tool for spying due to the cyber security vulnerability of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This can happen in just a few seconds without the knowledge of the user, and entirely due to human error; failure to change the default password of the surveillance system will leave the device wide open to attack.
Change the Default Password
This isn't an isolated case but a worldwide pattern: people are less likely to secure their IoT devices than their computers. And by not doing so they are neglecting their own security and exposing themselves to hackers who exploit the security vulnerabilities that such devices have.
The same applies to security cameras. These devices are meant to increase safety in the community, which is why they are commonly placed in public spaces, homes, offices, and businesses. As soon as the cameras are installed and connected to the internet, they start the live stream as they should.
However, if not secured with a custom username and password, security cameras remain open to anyone and the content they are streaming can be used by thieves, as just one example. And it doesn't require much knowledge to gain access to an unsecured stream, either: there is a database available online that contains the default usernames and passwords for security cameras. Simply pick the manufacturer and the model of your preference and the details will be unveiled to you.
Every security camera system comes with a default username and password, which – if unsecured with custom credentials – can give access to anyone that knows the info. And the biggest directory of online surveillance security cameras serves as a good example of how big this problem is: just select a country and you can easily start watching live footage from online webcams located on roads or at car parks, in offices or even by the beach.
Since the online database is there to raise awareness of the problem, it doesn't include streams from private homes to protect user privacy. But the majority of these are using the default username and password, which makes them just as easy a target for hackers. This highlights a worrisome worldwide trend: consumers neglect their security, but at the same time they want to be protected – which is why they installed these security cameras in the first place.
How to Protect Yourself from Prying Eyes
After analyzing about 6,000 open security cameras across the United States, Protection 1 concluded that this is a widespread problem and should be a “top concern for Americans concerned with their own privacy”. To address the issue all they need to do is change the factory default username and password to a unique and secure one and then hackers won't be able to access the live stream.
To do that, users need only a good password manager to generate and store a unique and strong password. With the credentials kept in the secure environment provided by the app, users won’t even need to deal with the stress of remembering it: just open the password manager, retrieve the surveillance system’s credentials from the app and check the camera's live stream to check that everything is alright back home.
Best Password Managers of 2019
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