Hi-Tech Doesn’t Mean Impervious to Hackers, as Many Homeowners Learn the Hard Way

Over the last five years, demand for home surveillance security systems has climbed dramatically. In fact, in 2013 alone, it was estimated that sales of these systems would climb by as much as 50%. The popularity of these systems is easily explained: by giving homeowners the ability to set up cameras in and around their homes and connecting that hardware to the web, homeowners can check on their homes from work or anywhere they have access to the internet via their mobile devices. In other words, this technology gives homeowners an easy way to find peace of mind.

Unfortunately, as Kansas First News is reporting, cybercriminals have found ways into these home surveillance systems. In many cases, these hackers only want to harass homeowners and spy on them — that’s bad enough. In more radical instances, however, these devices are being used to check when homeowners are away, making them powerful tools for planning burglaries.

Even State-of-the-Art Technology is Hackable
It’s just the latest reminder that even the most advanced technology in the world, whether it’s built for homes or automobiles, isn’t immune to resourceful hackers looking to get their thrill. Even the Tesla, arguably the most technologically impressive vehicle on the open market, has been hacked. Luckily for owners of the powerful smart car, it seems like nobody wants the car enough to bother stealing it. Unfortunately, lack of interest isn’t a defense homeowners can rely on.

The susceptibility of modern technology to hackers was recently driven home for one Ohio family. At the end of April, a man hacked into the baby monitor Heather Schreck and her husband Adam were using to keep an eye on their daughter Emma throughout the night. When Heather used her smartphone to log into the camera monitoring her daughter, she saw that the camera was moving without her controlling it and heard a stranger’s voice yelling, “Wake up baby, wake up baby!” at the slumbering child. When Adam Schreck arrived in his daughter’s bedroom to make sure she was safe, the camera turned to look directly at him, before the hacker in control began spouting obscenities. Needless to say, the family was a little shook up.

Do Homeowners Have Any Defense Against Cybercriminals?
Of course, all of this begs one question: if these expensive, supposedly advanced security devices can’t actually keep their owners safe, what is the point of buying them? In truth, homeowners need to take extra steps to secure these devices to shield them from tech savvy criminals. Most security experts simply recommend keeping home security devices off of the internet. However, since that defeats the purpose of many options, others recommend some alternatives.

“A whole range of opportunities are available to hackers when you enable household objects to communicate over the internet.” says Vlad, Owner of Direct Locksmith. “The convenience of being able to see and control what is going on in your home when you are not there, allows anyone with the skills to do so, that same convenience.”

One of the best things to do is to set up a home network that is maintained specifically for the purposes of your security. Using a local setup, any would-be hackers will have a heck of a time trying to break into your systems. Other tips are a lot less technologically dependent. Changing all of your system’s default security IDs and passwords and setting your own passwords using numbers, symbols, and phrases, not just words, can take your security to the next level. For now, as producers of this “secure tech” struggle to put out a product that can stand up under the scrutiny of skilled hackers, that will have to be enough for homeowners.

Now over to you. Have you had any trouble with your home security system? What steps have you taken to better defend your home? Let us know in the comments below.

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