Smart homes continue to multiply as the days go by. People had enough of the stressful modern life. So, they want as much comfort and relaxation as they can while at home. A smart thermostat ensures the room has the right coldness or hotness. Meanwhile, a smart sprinkler reduces the tasks you have to do.
But what is comfort if there is no security? You would not be able to relax in a spa located in an area with an ongoing war. Smart home devices can be so expensive. So, by building a smart home, you are making a beacon for thieves.
That said, protecting your smart home is gravely important. Luckily, there are also smart home security devices. But there’s a problem. These devices offer better protection than “dumb” devices. However, they are not without vulnerabilities. Hackers could exploit these vulnerabilities to access your devices and, possibly, break into your house.
So, you must learn the signs that your smart camera got hacked. Here, we will discuss it.
Incidents From the Past
Nest is a popular smart security device. However, it had been in the news because it made the homeowners feel unsafe. That’s the total opposite of the device’s existence.
Back in December last year, a family shared a horrifying story. They heard a stranger’s voice from their baby monitor. It was linked to the Nest camera in the baby’s room. The hacker gained access to the Nest camera in the baby’s room and the parent’s room. They threatened to kidnap the baby. Of course, the parents rushed to their child’s room, only to find no one was there. That’s when they realized their Nest cameras had been hacked.
There’s a similar story about Amazon Ring. A family in Mississippi claimed a stranger talked to their 8-year-old daughter through the Ring in her room. You can hear the voice from the videos obtained by USA Today. He says he’s Santa Claus and encourages the child to destroy her room.
Tenable also released a security advisory for Blink. Vulnerabilities they found could make the devices fully operable by an attacker. Luckily, they discovered that before something bad happened.
Manufacturers patch vulnerabilities through software updates or by releasing better versions of the devices. However, a perfect device does not exist. So, even the new ones may have undiscovered vulnerabilities. It’s dangerous if hackers learn about these vulnerabilities first.
So, for your own safety, you must learn the tell-tale signs that hackers have penetrated your smart security system.
Changes in the Account Settings
There’s a common thing in the security incidents mentioned above: weak passwords. Hackers easily figured them out, and so they were able to enter the system.
1It is highly recommended that you change the factory-default password. That is like welcoming hackers into your house with open arms. You must set a strong password. Think about using something other than your or a family member’s birthday. Hackers who know you can easily guess that. Choose a more complex one, but make sure it is easy for you to remember. A combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special symbols (if allowed) is advised.
Newer devices also offer the two-factor authentication feature. Enable this to ensure no one operates your devices without your knowledge.
Don’t stop there. Periodically check your account and device activity. Do your cameras rotate unexpectedly or abnormally? A hacker could be operating it. Have the settings reverted to their factory default? Someone could have gotten access to it.
Data Consumption Spike
Smart security cameras consume a lot of data since they continually stream live video feed into the cloud. Expectedly, if your smart home has multiple cameras, they would take a decent chunk of your home’s network traffic.
The thing is that the smart camera’s data consumption is pretty consistent. There are small spikes or drops sometimes, but it does not change much. However, it’s an entirely different story if an attacker successfully enters the system. You would notice an unusual spike in data usage.
You should start to worry. But don’t panic. The fluctuation could be natural. Look for other signs indicating someone else has accessed your camera to confirm your theory.
Unusual Noises Coming from Devices
Smart cameras don’t make much noise. Moreover, they are not speakers, so music should not come from them. In the Mississippi case told above, the daughter heard banging noises from the Ring camera. Also, they heard the song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” from the device’s speakers.
The child asked, “Who’s there?” Through the camera, someone replied, “It’s Santa, your best friend.” Of course, it is a hacker. Amazon Ring does not have a feature that makes the cameras play music on their own. Moreover, it is not equipped with conversational AI that lets it talk to humans as if they are also humans.
Another Ring hacking incident had hackers shouting racial slurs through the device.
Security Tips for Smart Homeowners
The more devices you add to your smart home, the more chances for hackers to penetrate the system. So, it is for the best that you learn about the best security practices. They will keep hackers out of your home.
As mentioned above, you should set a strong password. And it is not only for your cameras but also your other devices, including the network password. Making the password different for each device is also ideal. But please ensure that you can remember which password is for which device.
Whenever available, you should enable two-factor authentication. Every time someone tries to log into your devices, you will know it. Then, you can either approve or deny the log-in request.
Separating devices that contain sensitive information from your other IoT devices is wise. Put them in different networks, as the FBI advised. That prevents hackers from stealing information from your phone or laptop. Most routers allow you to create a secondary network. It’s best to put your IoT devices there.
And there you have it. These are the signs that your smart camera has been hacked, along with some security tips.