Security cameras, a danger to privacy: how to defend yourself

Wi-Fi cameras can be a danger to personal data if they do not respect the normal security rules. Here's how to defend yourself

Cameras connected to the Wi-Fi network are increasingly numerous in our homes: they cost less than a burglar alarm, allow you to control your home remotely via your smartphone and can be installed very easily. Faced with all these advantages it is normal that a person decides to buy at least a couple, installing them in every room of the house. But like all devices connected to the network, IP video surveillance cameras also hide problems.

The fact of being constantly connected to the network, in fact, also exposes to real risks. Very often, to save a few tens of euros, people buy cameras that do not respect the normal rules of computer security. It only takes a hacker a little less than five minutes to take remote control of an IoT (Internet of Things) device and start spying on a person's life. Anonymous Italia, a group of hacktivists, has recently launched the alarm in Italy: tens of thousands of cameras are at risk and can be controlled remotely by unscrupulous crackers.

What are IP cameras and why are they problematic

IP cameras are a particular type of camera that connects to the Wi-Fi network of the home, office or company. Compared to normal cameras, the video signal generated is in digital form in a format ready for transmission over a data network. The management of an IP CAM passes through smartphone applications or ad hoc programs for video surveillance. Thanks to the apps, you can monitor the security of your home at all times, and if something abnormal is recorded by the camera's sensors, you are immediately alerted with a message or notification on your smartphone.

All these conveniences, however, hide a real problem: security. Like all network-connected devices, IP cameras can become targets for hackers. And unfortunately, they already are. IP Cams have major security problems that largely depend on manufacturers choosing the same password for all their products. It's child's play for a hacker to discover the security key and take control of thousands of devices in no time.

By getting inside the camera, hackers can start recording people's lives, even their most intimate moments, and then publish them on the internet or sell them on the dark web. If this scenario sounds apocalyptic to you, you are wrong: for several years now, it has been possible to find thousands of video clips stolen from security camera recordings on the net.

How to improve the security of Wi-FI surveillance cameras

To defend yourself from these dangers, you need to be a bit careful and take some actions that will increase the security of your IP cameras. The first thing to do when purchasing such a device is to change the default password, setting a complex security key consisting of alphanumeric characters. After changing the password, also check if there are software updates available that fix bugs related to computer security.

Finally, always check the reliability of the manufacturer: often to save a few tens of euros you buy cameras from companies that do not invest in computer security and make devices that are easy to hack.