CR’s digital privacy and security experts offer their best advice for protecting your privacy
Smart security cameras that can catch a thief in the act can be a great tool for protecting your home. But they’re also a gateway for hackers to spy on you because they can access them through the internet. No wonder, then, that in a nationally representative survey conducted by Consumer Reports in 2018, 54 percent of Americans considered loss of privacy a reason not to use smart devices.
News stories about home security cameras getting hacked have become all too common. You may recall a story from January 2019 that went viral about a California family’s Nest security camera being hacked to play fake warning messages that North Korea launched missiles at the U.S. According to The Mercury News, the family’s 8-year-old son was so scared he hid under the living room rug. It was only after calls to 911 and Nest that the frightened family realized they were victims of a hack.
Nest sent an email to its customers offering tips on how they can protect themselves, but Nest itself wasn’t breached. Hackers probably got the log-ins to the family’s account by other means.
How Hacks Happen
One way security cameras are vulnerable to hacks is through a technique called “credential stuffing.” Hackers use usernames and passwords from other data breaches (that other hackers share online) to gain access to accounts. The combination of large data breaches, such as those at Equifax and Target, and consumers reusing the same passwords—52 percent of internet users reuse or modify the same passwords—make the work easy. In recent years hackers have made the log-in credentials for over 8.2 billion online accounts available on the internet.
This type of hack doesn’t require the breach of a security camera company’s system, so every brand is at risk. “These companies aren’t technically at fault,” says Robert Richter, who leads security and privacy testing for Consumer Reports. “Most companies offer a two-factor authentication system that acts as an extra deterrent against attacks like this. But there is more that these companies could do, like encouraging people to use that added security feature by default.”
How to Protect Yourself
Data breaches and subsequent credential-stuffing attacks won’t be going away anytime soon, but there are simple steps you can take to reduce the chances your security camera will be hacked.
1. Keep your camera’s firmware up to date. Manufacturers that are serious about protecting their cameras will routinely release firmware updates that fix software bugs and patch security vulnerabilities. Some cameras will automatically download and install these updates, while others require that you check for them on your own. (You’ll usually find an update button under the Settings menu in your camera’s app.)
2. Change your camera’s password. In a nationally representative CR survey on data privacy conducted in May 2019, 13 percent of respondents with at least one online account said they used the same password for all of their accounts. That makes it a cinch for hackers to gain access to multiple accounts. Always create a unique password for each account. Here’s the best way:
Do: Use something long and complex—like a random phrase or string of characters—with numbers, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters.
Don’t: Include any personally identifiable information, such as names, birthdates, etc. Hackers can often get this information from public social media profiles, such as those on Facebook and Instagram, and then use it to guess your passwords and gain access to your accounts. You also want to avoid simple, commonly used passwords, such as SplashData’s 100 worst passwords of the year. For more tips on strengthening your passwords, read our tips for better passwords.
3. Set up a password manager. These programs generate incredibly strong, random passwords for your digital accounts, securely store and remember them for you, and even automatically insert them into log-in prompts. Many password managers are free to use and available on an array of devices and web browsers.
4. Set up two-factor authentication if your camera offers it. This is an extra layer of security. You opt to have the camera company send you a single-use passcode via a text message, phone call, email, or authentication app that you use in addition to your username and password when you log in to the account. That way, if hackers crack your password, they still won’t be able to access your camera unless they also gain access to your passcode.
But not all camera companies offer two-factor authentication. Among the models in CR’s home security camera ratings, only three major brands currently do: Amazon, Nest, and Ring.
All of these methods can improve your chances of avoiding a hack, but they’re not foolproof. “None of these methods will work perfectly on their own,” says Richter. “But right now, these measures are our best tools. Use them all!”
Top Cameras With Two-Factor Authentication
Consumer Reports conducts data privacy and security tests on wireless security cameras to help you find models that are as secure as possible. Cameras that include two-factor authentication receive a higher score. Our experts also inspect the user interface and network traffic from each camera and its companion smartphone app to make sure it’s using encryption, adhering to manufacturer policies, and not sharing your data. We evaluate each model’s public documentation (such as privacy policies) to see what claims the manufacturer makes about the way it handles your data.
Below are a few cameras that do well in our data privacy and security tests and offer the extra security of two-factor authentication. They’re listed in alphabetical order by brand.
Everyone’s seen the horror stories. Someone placed an Internet connected camera in their home and left it open to attack, allowing strangers to eavesdrop on their most private moments. Here’s how to pick a camera that guarantees your privacy.
Watch Out for IP Cameras
There are two main types of Wi-Fi-enabled security cameras: traditional IP (or networked) cameras, and modern “smart” cameras like Alphabet’s Nest Cam and Amazon’s Cloud Cam.
Most of the scary stories you see online about insecure cameras are about IP cameras. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with IP cameras. These are simply security cameras that connect to the network, either over Wi-Fi or a wired Ethernet connection. They provide a web interface you can use to view their feed. These cameras can also be hooked up to a network video recorder system or a computer, letting you view and record all those camera feeds in one place. The cameras may have some built-in storage, but it’s generally your job to record their video feeds somehow, if you care to do so.
In practice, many people don’t set up these cameras securely. They leave them configured with the default username and password, and then connect them to the internet. This means anyone can watch the feed just by visiting the camera’s IP address online. There even are search engines like SHODAN designed to help people find these exposed camera feeds and other vulnerable Internet of Things devices.
If you’re just an average person looking for some simple security cameras, skip the IP cameras. If you’re a hobbyist with the do-it-yourself spirit, you might want to give IP cameras a go. Just be sure you know what you’re doing and set them up properly so people can’t snoop on you.
How “Smart” Cameras Are Different
Modern security cameras like Alphabet’s Nest Cam (Alphabet is the parent company that owns Google), Amazon’s Cloud Cam, and Netgear’s Arlo, for example, are different than IP cameras. These are designed as easy-to-use smarthome devices.
Instead of providing a dumb web interface pre-configured with a default username and password, cameras like these require you use an online account system. Live video feeds and recorded video clips are available through those online accounts. That account can sometimes be configured with two-factor authentication for additional security, which means even an attacker that knows your account’s password wouldn’t be able to view your cameras.
These types of cameras are automatically updated with the latest firmware, too. You don’t have to manually update them to fix security problems.
In other words, there’s no real complicated configuration. You just plug the camera in, create an online account, and then connect the camera to your account. As long as you choose a strong password and, ideally, set up two-factor authentication, there’s no way for an attacker to gain easy access.
Beware the Cheap Cameras
Of course, whatever smart camera you choose, it will be uploading its video feed—or at least video clips—to some server somewhere. It’s important that you trust the company involved.
For example, Nest is owned by Alphabet, which also owns Google. With Nest, you’re basically trusting Google. Other big companies, like Amazon, Netgear, and Honeywell also seem pretty trustworthy. These big companies should be serious about security and do a good job of securing their services. They have reputations to uphold.
Some cameras just seem less trustworthy. For example, the Wyze Cam costs $26, where other manufacturers generally sell their cameras for $100 to $200. We actually thought the Wyze Cam worked pretty well and it’s certainly an amazing value. However, Wyze doesn’t offer any two-factor authentication support. And, whenever you initiate a live streaming session, that video feed is provided by a Chinese company named ThroughTek.
Whether you trust a company like Wyze is up to you. For example, Wyze might be fine for keeping an eye on the outside of your house, but you might not want to place it in your living room. It’s worth nothing that you can even use a Wyze camera without connecting it to Wi-Fi, and just record to a microSD card.
Other cameras are even less trustworthy. In 2017, many cameras by Chinese manufacturer Foscam were found vulnerable to attack. For example, some of these cameras contained hardcoded backdoor passwords that would allow attackers to view live feeds from your camera. It’s worth spending a bit more for a more secure camera.
Choose a Camera That Supports Two-Factor Authentication
As we’ve already mentioned several times, two-factor authentication is a key security feature to have with a smart security camera account. You can set up two-factor authentication for your Nest account and Amazon account.
Unfortunately, the Wyze Cam doesn’t offer this feature. Even Netgear’s Arlo cameras don’t offer two-factor authentication, so don’t count on every camera from a trustworthy company including this type of security.
For maximum security and privacy, be sure to choose a camera that supports two-factor authentication, and be sure to set it up! Do your research before buying a camera.
How to Keep Your Security Cameras Secure
The core advice here is pretty simple. Here’s how to choose a secure security camera and keep your video feeds private:
- Buy a “smart” security camera, not an IP security camera that requires more configuration.
- Get a camera from a trustworthy brand you recognize, like Nest or Amazon.
- Use a strong password when you create your online account for the camera.
- Enable two-factor authentication. (Be sure to buy a camera with this feature for maximum security.)
If you do all these things, you should be completely secure. The worst case scenario would be a massive breach of Nest or Amazon’s servers, but that would be a big shocking story, and would be fixed immediately.
Hackers with simple tools can beat many cameras that people use to watch over their homes
Background: How Home Security Cameras Work
They’re growing in popularity: Small video cameras that can sit anywhere in your home or business and let you keep an eye on things anywhere you have an Internet connection. CR has reported on a few models that work through their own mobile apps.
There are also video baby monitors that work within the home Wi-Fi network, sending video to either an app or to a dedicated monitor. These are the modern equivalent of CCTV (closed circuit TV) cameras. However, since many new cameras are on a wireless network connection, they aren’t “closed” any longer.
Potential Security Threat
And therein lies the problem: We discovered that, just like in a Mission Impossible movie, it’s easy for an attacker with a laptop to disable your security cameras from outside your house, as long as they work through Wi-Fi.
A hacker within range of your router—and that distance can extend for hundreds of feet, especially if he or she adds a special antenna—determines the name of your Wi-Fi network, the unique address of your router, and the Internet address of your camera, using free software tools available to anyone.
Then, the hacker can send the camera a “deauthorization (deauth) packet” that temporarily disconnects it from your network. If they keep sending the packets, they can prevent it from reconnecting. The hacker doesn’t need to be on the Wi-Fi network itself.
What We Did
We downloaded a free hacking tool (we’ve decided not to name it) that has a number of functions, including the ability to send deauth packets. We installed it on a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet running Linux, the operating system of choice for hackers. We used an external wireless card attached to the tablet’s USB port that was able to transmit Wi-Fi packets to anyone’s network.
In our tests, it was a simple matter to send a deauth packet that would knock any Wi-Fi device, including the cameras we tried, off their network temporarily. If we wanted them to stay disconnected, we just chose an option in the tool that would repeatedly send the deauth packet.
We were even able to get one camera to reconnect to a “rogue” router we set up, which could have allowed us to take control of it once we guessed the camera’s password.
Conclusion and Recommendations
While the jury may be out on whether any given camera is truly hackable—meaning that the perpetrator can actually view its image remotely—we think the vulnerability of Wi-Fi cameras to being knocked offline makes them questionable for critical tasks, such as property surveillance and keeping a watch on kids and pets.
For those tasks, you’re better off using a camera that allows a wired Ethernet connection to your router. Unless a hacker actually logs into your network (you DO have a strong Wi-Fi password, right?), a wired camera is pretty secure.
In the wider world of the Internet of Things, there may be no practical solution to the problem of “denial of service” attacks of this sort, which can knock any Wi-Fi device off the network, including motion detectors, sensors that report when a door is opened, and other security devices.
We’d like future Wi-Fi standards to use “frequency-hopping,” in which the signal is rapidly switched among frequency channels. This is already employed by cordless phones, and it would make it much harder for a hacker to jam your Wi-Fi.
Today, many people are asking themselves whether Wi-Fi enabled security cameras are safe to use.
Obviously, they are designed to keep you and your family safe by minimizing the risk of intruders. But, at the same time, there are also a few security concerns that come with them as well.
Why You Need to Protect Your Wi-Fi Enabled Security Camera
Needless to say, having your home security camera hacked can lead to all sorts of serious consequences. And, research has shown that thousands of Wi-Fi enabled security cameras are being hacked each and every year. In fact, the American ABC News network has even reported baby monitors with cameras being hacked.
How ironic is that? Devices that are designed to offer security and protection are being used by hackers and criminals to invade the very privacy that they were created to protect.
So, with that in mind, we’ve put together the following articles to explain a few simple ways that you can secure your home’s Wi-Fi enabled security camera.
Tips for Securing Your Security Camera
By now, it should be easy to see that Wi-Fi enabled cameras aren’t as safe and secure as you may have thought. Fortunately, below, you’ll find 10 essential tips to keep your security cameras safe from hackers.
Use a Network Firewall, VPN Or Antivirus Software
Often, hackers gain access to security cameras by first hacking into the network that they are connected to.
Therefore, the best way to prevent a hacker from being able to gain access to your home’s security camera is to use a firewall or VPN on your router and make sure that you periodically run antivirus software to make sure there are no threats present.
Secure Your Home’s Wireless Network
First things first, securing your home’s Wi-Fi network is the simplest and most basic thing you can do to protect your Wi-Fi enabled cameras from being targeted by cybercriminals.
This includes using WPA2-AES encryption, changing your router’s password to something stronger, changing the network’s default SSID name, and disabling guest networking.
Disable Remote Online Monitoring
Today, most Wi-Fi enable cameras to have a remote viewing feature, which allows you to monitor your home from wherever you are. The problem is that this same feature could potentially be used by criminals to gain remote access to your camera.
With that said, it’s best to turn this feature off when you’re not planning on using it.
Use a Strong Password for Your Wi-Fi Enabled Camera
Often, people who install a Wi-Fi enabled camera in their home forget or simply don’t know that they can set an access password. The fact is that not having a password leaves your camera vulnerable to hackers and criminals who may be trying to gain access to it.
Therefore, it’s always recommended to use a long, complex password to keep any of your Wi-Fi enabled devices as safe as possible.
Regularly Update Your Camera’s Firmware
From time to time, manufacturers will release firmware updates to enhance their product’s performance and security, especially after a flaw has been targeted by hackers.
So, it’s best to continually check your camera’s manufacturer’s websites to make sure that you’re always using the latest firmware version.
Disconnect the Camera When Not in Use
Of course, we don’t recommend keeping your camera disconnected at all times. After all, having the camera connected is how it helps protect your home. However, there are certain times, such as when you’re at home, that it may not be necessary to have the camera connected.
Only Purchase Wi-Fi Cameras from Trusted Sources
There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to shopping for a Wi-Fi enabled security camera for your home. Your best bet is to physically go to a store to purchase your camera. However, with how easy it is to shop online, many people decide to purchase their home security cameras this way.
While there are plenty of safe and reputable online stores to shop from, such as Amazon, Walmart, or Best Buy, there are also online stores that may be trying to sell you fake devices in order to spy on you.
With that said, make sure to always choose a reliable source when purchasing a home security camera.
Beware of Password Recovery Emails
As you probable know, most services have the options to recover your password by sending you an email notification. The problem here is that smart hackers and criminals can use these services to send you a fraudulent email in order to gain access to your camera’s password.
Therefore, if you receive any sort of password recovery emails, and you weren’t the one who initiated it, make sure to avoid opening any links in the email and delete it as soon as possible.
It’s also a good idea to report the sender’s email to the camera’s manufacturer.
Cover the Camera Lens if Not Needed
This goes for laptop and computer webcams as well: if you’re not currently using your security camera and have no need for monitoring your home at the moment, it might be a good idea to cover the camera lens with a piece of paper or tape.
This way, even if a hacker were able to gain remote access to the camera, they still won’t be able to see inside of your home.
Lastly, the best way to ensure that your Wi-Fi enabled security camera, as well as any of your other devices, are protected, is to use a VPN.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, protects your devices by encrypting the connection between your devices and the internet. It acts as a sort of secure tunnel, where any information being sent or received by a device must pass through in order to reach to world wide web.
This makes it impossible for anyone other than you to access your Wi-Fi enabled security camera.
Home security cameras are a great way to protect your home and family, but their usefulness can be compromised if they’re tampered with.
From cutting wires to spray painting over your outdoor security cameras – thieves have long found ways around getting caught by surveillance cameras and home security systems. With more Americans incorporating home security equipment and monitoring into their lives, it’s worth mentioning the steps to take to keep your equipment tamper-free.
Officer O’Neill of the Oakland Police Department suggests you mount your camera as high as possible and install a good security camera cover to make it less convenient for the thief or vandal to access. Officer O’Neill explains: “The harder it is to access quickly, the less chance it will be tampered with or damaged. No thief wants to be seen by neighbors on a 10-foot ladder fiddling with a security camera. They’ll pass and go find a house without one.”
The best way to protect your surveillance cameras is by hiding them. If someone is hell bent on destroying a visible camera, keep another camera hidden so you have the evidence. The latest styles are so small they can be installed in a plant or other location and go undetected – just be sure to position the lens to still provide a good field of view.
Get Protective Housing
Protective housing can help keep your camera from being vandalized or damaged. Invest in a quality security camera cover or draw inspiration from these DIY security camera enclosure ideas:
- Create a box with chain link fencing material to protect the camera.
- Convert a beautiful outdoor lantern into a DIY security camera enclosure.
- Build one out of PVC pipe and glue.
- Convert a birdhouse into a security camera cover.
Avoid Wire Cutting – Go Wireless
Cutting wires is the easiest way a trespasser can stop your security camera from working. Skip wired systems and go with the latest wireless security cameras. They’re small enough to place anywhere, affordable and easier to install than wire surveillance cameras.
Prevent Breaches – Use Passwords & Encryption
Most internet-based (IP cameras) offer live video feeds you can access remotely. But this makes them vulnerable to hacking and digital snooping. Make sure to:
- Purchase a camera that supports wireless security protocols like Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) for stronger data protection
- Change your camera’s default password and use a strong password that’s hard to guess
- Enable data encryption when setting your camera up
- Keep the software up to date
Look for Tamper Detection Cameras
When shopping for a security camera, choose one with tamper detection. IP cameras with this security setting will send you an alert if the camera is tampered with. Some events a camera can detect include:
- The camera lens is covered by spray paint or objects.
- The camera is hit with an object or moved.
- The camera’s focus is obscured.
- Someone powers off the camera.
Connect With Your Neighbors
An extra set of eyes in the form of neighbors is an added protection. Your neighbors are just as interested in securing their property as you are, so teaming up to create a neighborhood watch is helpful.
Looking for more security camera resources and tips? Check out our Home Security Camera Installation Guide, which will help you decide how to select, install and position your cameras for best results.
Researched by the
The Safety Team is a group of experts that handle provider research, product reviews and recalls to make your home safety and security search as easy as 1-2-3.
Even the devices we rely on for security and privacy are susceptible to malicious attack. Use these tips to lower the odds of your security camera getting hacked.
As the number of connected gadgets around your home increases, so do your chances of getting hacked. Those odds are still very small, but it does happen. “Internet of things” devices pose a threat that their non-connected counterparts never did. They increase the number of gateways into your home by introducing vulnerabilities that didn’t exist previously.
A perfect example of that came from the Defcon 2016 security conference last week, where presenters from Merculite Security showed how 75 percent of the smart locks they tested could be hacked with relative ease. And we were all reminded of how real the threat is last week when a Houston mother learned the security camera in her daughter’s bedroom was being broadcast online.
Even the dramatized version of a hacked smart home in a recent episode of the USA channel’s ” Mr. Robot ” sent a chill down my spine. The mere thought of what havoc someone could wreak if they were ever in control of my thermostat, webcams, smart lights and other connected devices is horrifying.
A connected home is full of possible weak links. Ironic as it may be, security cameras are often at the top of that list. And it’s up to you to reduce the threat.
How security cameras are vulnerable
If a hacker wants to gain control of a video feed, there are two main ways that can happen, Aamir Lakhani of FortiGuard told CNET: locally and remotely.
To access a camera locally, you would need to be in range of the wireless network the camera is connected to. There, a hacker would need to obtain access to the wireless network using a number of methods, such as guessing the security passphrase with brute force or spoofing the wireless network and jamming the actual one.
Within a local network, security cameras are not always encrypted or password-protected, since the wireless network security itself is typically considered enough of a deterrent to keep malicious attacks at bay. So once on the network, a hacker would typically have to do little else to take control of the cameras and potentially other IoT devices around the house.
Remote hacks, such as the recent instance involving the family in Houston, are the far more likely — and scary — scenario. Something as common as a data breach could put your login credentials in the wrong hands, and short of changing your password frequently, there’s not much you could do to prevent it from happening.
Lakhani also explains that when a security camera transmits the video feed over the internet, the video signal could fall victim to password attacks, weak or default passwords and attacks that circumvent authentication on the security company’s web servers altogether.
For hackers with a little know-how, finding the next target with an unsecured video feed is only a Google search away . It’s unbelievable how many people, including businesses, setup security camera systems and can’t be bothered to change the default username and password. Certain websites, such as Shodan.io , display just how easy it is to access unsecured video feeds or those with default logins by aggregating and displaying them for all to see.
How to know if you’ve been hacked
It would be almost impossible to know if your security cameras — or worse, baby monitor — has been hacked. Attacks could go completely unnoticed to an untrained eye, and most people wouldn’t know where to begin to look to check.
A red flag for some malicious activity on a security camera is slow or worse than normal performance. “Many cameras have limited memory, and when attackers leverage the cameras, CPU cycles have to work extra hard, making regular camera operations almost or entirely unusable at times,” said Lakhani.
Then again, poor performance isn’t solely indicative of a malicious attack — it could have a perfectly normal explanation, such as a poor connection or signal.
How to prevent getting hacked
While no one system is impervious to an attack, there are some precautions you can take to further decrease your odds of being hacked.
- Secure your wireless network with WPA2.
- When available, enable encryption within the security camera’s administrative tools.
- Protect the admin software with a username and password that cannot be easily guessed, even on a secured network.
- Update the camera firmware frequently or whenever possible.
Lakhani also suggests putting security cameras on a network of their own. While this would doubtless foil your plans for the perfect smart home, it would help prevent “land and expand,” where an attacker gains access to one device and uses it to take control of other connected devices on the same network.
Taking that one step further, you can use a virtual private network, or VPN, to further restrict which devices can access the network the security cameras are on. You can also log all activity on the network and be certain there’s nothing unusual happening there.
Again, the chances of being the victim of an attack like this are quite small, especially if you follow the most basic safety precautions. Using the above steps will provide multiple layers of security, making it increasingly difficult for an attacker to take over.
Wireless surveillance cameras should provide peace-of-mind without the worry of exceeding your monthly Internet data usage. Below we provide four recommendations to maximize the benefits of your home Wi-Fi security system and Service Plan Data.
1. Use a lower resolution
Many security cameras on the market, including Nest Cam and Netgear Arlo offer both a high-definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) view. Select the SD setting to reduce bandwidth and storage.
See how to change Nest camera video quality.
2. Reduce frames per second (FPS)
A security camera only needs a small number of frames per second to capture good images. If your devices offer this setting reduce the frames per second.
3. Set record/upload intervals
Recording and uploading in real-time 24/7 will use a lot of your Service Plan Data. Consider setting up your devices to sync at a set time once per day or use the motion/sound-based record function with a low sensitivity. Some products offer ‘mask’ areas or ‘Geofencing’ to avoid false recording motion in designated zones in order to allow for movement from pets, fans and windows. Learn about Arlo Geofencing.
When motion is detected most systems record 30-second video clips. Shorter video recording lengths use less data, and longer video recording lengths use more data.
4. Limit number of cameras
While it’s easy to install 10 or more cameras in your home, consider that too many video streams will bog down a wireless router and degrade the performance of the security system overall and any other service or device that’s connected to the Internet. Learn about Canary’s Wi-Fi requirements.
Not many things are better than laying down to sleep at night and knowing your home is totally secure. You don’t need a full-blown Mission Impossible-style laser system, but a little added security goes a long way. That’s why we’ve put our heads together to make a list of the best wireless security cameras currently available. We also have a separate list of the best smart security cameras that also includes wired options, which you can check out via the link below.
Wireless cameras are great if you have a reliable Wi-Fi setup and you don’t mind changing the batteries every so often. The list includes both indoor and outdoor models, so everyone should be able to find something that suits their needs.
Best wireless security cameras:
- Arlo Pro 3
- Blink Outdoor
- Reolink Argus 3
- Canary Flex
- Blue by ADT
- Deep Sentinel
Editor’s note: We will update our list of the best wireless security cameras as new options launch.
Arlo Pro 3
Arlo’s Pro 3 security system is an Amazon’s Choice product that can be easily controlled from the palm of your hand. You won’t need to go full-CSI with zooming and enhancing either — the Arlo Pro 3 records at 2K resolution in color or black and white.
The Arlo Pro 3 system requires a hub that’s included with bundles of two or more cameras. If you already have the hub, you can select the Add-On Camera option on Amazon.
The Blink Outdoor is a great option if you’re looking for a durable exterior camera. It’s not only IP65 water-resistant, but it also lasts up to two years on just two AA batteries. If you’re used to having motion around your house, you can also set up specific activity zones so you only record what matters. The Blink Outdoor works well indoors as well, and you can get a kit of up to five cameras.
Reolink Argus 3
Reolink’s Argus 3 is another waterproof and wireless security camera. The newest version, unfortunately, drops the included solar panel, but the 5,200mAh rechargeable battery should last you a while. Argus 3 offers a 120-degree viewing angle, PIR motion detection, and two-way audio so you should hear and see everything that goes on. It matches the Blink’s IP65 water-resistance rating, so you should have no trouble recording in any weather.
The Canary Flex is another option that doesn’t require a hub to connect all of your cameras. While the Canary Flex system only saves recordings for 24-hours as standard, the two-camera kit includes a one-year premium service. The premium service makes it possible to save recordings for 30 days, and you can use two-way audio to communicate throughout your house.
Blue by ADT
The Blue wireless camera from ADT goes to show that there aren’t just startups in the home security game. ADT has been around since 1874, and Blue is just the latest security measure from the company. Blue is smart home compatible so it’ll work with your favorite assistant, and it even offers facial recognition so you can be notified when loved ones are approaching your house. The Blue camera can also broadcast a siren using your smart speakers if its motion sensors are tripped.
The last few options have been wireless security cameras that you have to monitor yourself, but Deep Sentinel boosts security to the next level. Deep Sentinel includes Live Guard service where trained professionals will monitor your videos and respond to incidents quickly. Of course, live professional service doesn’t come cheap, but it could make a difference when it comes to response time.
The Deep Sentinel cameras and hub utilize AI to identify threats, so it might be a look at the future of security systems.
Keep prying eyes away from your prying eyes
BanksPhotos / Getty Images
The IP security camera industry has blossomed over the past few years. From consumer-grade home IP security cameras, such as those from FLIR, to professional-grade models, the technology is getting easier to use and more people are installing cameras to watch their property and even their pets. As with most tech solutions, however, home security video setups are increasingly targeted by hackers and bots.
Protect yourself by following some common-sense security-hardening procedures.
Update Your Camera’s Firmware
Most modern IP security cameras feature user-upgradeable firmware. If a security vulnerability is found, the IP security camera manufacturer will often fix the vulnerability by issuing a firmware update. Usually, you can update your camera’s firmware from the admin console through a web browser.
You should frequently check your IP security camera manufacturer’s website for updated firmware so that you can make sure the version you are using doesn’t contain an unpatched vulnerability that could be exploited by hackers and online voyeurs.
Keep Your Cameras Local
If you don’t want your camera feeds to end up on the internet, then don’t connect them to the internet.
If privacy is your top priority then you should keep your cameras on a local network and assign them non-routable internal IP addresses (i.e 192.168.0.5 or something similar). Even with non-routable IP addresses, your cameras could still be exposed by camera software that sets up port forwarding or uses UPNP to expose your cameras to the internet. Check your IP camera’s website to learn how to set up your cameras in local-only mode.
Assign Passwords to Your Cameras
Many IP cameras don’t have password protection turned on by default. However, some people forget to add password protection after the initial setup and end up leaving the cameras wide open for all to access.
Most cameras offer at least some form of basic authentication. It may not be super robust, but at least it is better than nothing at all. Protect your camera feeds with a username and a strong password and be sure to change it periodically.
Rename the Default Admin Account and Set a New Admin Password
Your camera’s default admin name and password, set by the manufacturer, is usually available by visiting their website and going to the support section for your camera model. If you haven’t changed the admin name and password then even the most novice hacker can look up the default password and view your feeds or take control of your camera.
If Your Camera Is Wireless, Turn on WPA2 Encryption
If your camera is wirelessly capable, you should only join it to a WPA2-encrypted wireless network so that wireless eavesdroppers can’t connect to it and access your video feeds.
Don’t Place IP Cameras Where They Don’t Belong
Don’t put an IP security camera inside areas of your house where you wouldn’t feel comfortable being seen by strangers. Even if you think you’ve secured your cameras in every way possible, there is always the possibility of getting blind-sided by a Zero-Day vulnerability that hasn’t been found by your manufacturer yet.
Connecting your Wireless IP cameras to a Wi-Fi router can be troublesome depending on your level of experience and expertise. Not everyone is well versed in networking terms and technologies. Let alone what to do when they see several series of numbers separated by periods. Let’s dive right in and get this accomplished.
Step 1: Determine the Wifi strength of your wireless network
The first and extremely important step when considering a wireless security camera system is understanding the limitations of wireless equipment. You can purchase expensive wireless equipment and still have poor signal due to interference or thick walls. These issues can lead to an unreliable security system that drops cameras, or appears to skip video. The video below outlines how to use an iPhone or Android to determine the wireless strength in areas around your home or business. It is relevant to test the connection strength at every location you intend to mount a wireless camera at. It is recommended to not make any compromises when it comes to wireless because it can be troublesome to troubleshoot.
How to Check WiFi Signal Strength with your Smartphone
How to Check WiFi Signal Strength with your Smartphone
Step 2: Power and Configure the Wireless Security Camera for your Network
Note that our WiFi security cameras are not capable of PoE meaning they require a power supply, and the default wired IP address of our such cameras and other IP cameras and NVRs is 192.168.1.108 unless otherwise specified. You may have to alter the configuration of your network to view the camera’s web service, our use the IP Config Tool to locate and change its IP address. Information on using the connecting to an IP security camera and using the ConfigTool to find or modify can be found in another article located here.
Connect the camera to your network using an Ethernet cable, and plug in the 12V DC adapter. Allow the camera a minute or so to power on.
Step 3: Access the IP Camera’s Web Interface
Using Internet Explorer 11 go to the camera’s IP address. If you haven’t already done so, follow this guide on enabling ActiveX to view your camera’s web service. Make sure to download and install the plug-in, then log in using the username and password. Then navigate to [Setup > Network > TCP/IP]. Note that you cannot connect a camera to wifi by using the NVR web interface you must be inside of the camera. You can verify you are in the correct web interface by checking the picture on the top left making sure that it says IP Camera and not Web Service. Below is an example of both.
Step 4: Configuring the WiFi Address
Select the drop-down box that states WIRE(DEFAULT) and select wireless. Click the button next to the drop-down box that says DEFAULT. Then select the Radio Button marked STATIC. Now you can alter the address of the camera. Make sure the address is not the same as another device on your network, the subnet mask matches the rest of your network, and the default gateway is correct. The WiFi address cannot be the same as the wired address, make sure to set it to something other than your wired address such as 192.168.1.109 in our example. When you’re finished hit save. The device should refresh. You may have to log in again.
Step 5: Connect to Your Wireless Router
Navigate to [Setup > Network > Wi-Fi] and check the box labeled ENABLE. Click on SEARCH SSID to discover the available networks. (If your network doesn’t broadcast an SSID click ADD SSID instead and list the SSID) Double-click the name of your network and enter your credentials. The device can take several minutes to connect to the network depending on a number of factors.
To verify your camera is properly connected, disconnect the power and network cables from the camera. Wait 10 seconds and reconnect the power only. Give the camera about 2 minutes to boot and connect to the wireless network that you just configured. Then try to connect to the camera using your web browser using the wireless ip address you configured (192.168.1.109 mentioned above).
If you are able to see the login page for the camera then you are ready to mount your camera.
If you would like to view this process in video form, please watch the video below.
Wi-Fi Connection Troubleshooting Steps
It does take time for a WiFi device to auto connect to a wireless network. Keep that in mind and be patient. Also consider the following troubleshooting steps if your wireless security camera does not connect.
- Power the camera off for 10 seconds by disconnecting power then plug it back in (wait up to 5 minutes for it to connect)
- Try connecting a network cable to the device, then disconnect it
- Make sure your WiFi settings are correct. Confirm WiFi Key and IP address are correct
- Reconnect the camera to a wired network, and DEFAULT the settings from the web interface of the camera. Then Reconfigure.
- Make sure there is not an IP conflict with another device at that address
- Try using a different Wi-Fi password on your wireless router or access point that contains only alphanumeric characters and no special symbols.
- Change the encryption type* for your WiFi router or access point. Not all routers are created equally. Some inferior devices have a difficult time handling WPA and WPA2. You may need to lower the encryption to WEP or buy a new router. We recommend the Asus RT N66U used in this article.