Hacking home security: How to avoid being a victim


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Home monitoring is at our fingertips. Dozens of companies sell security cameras and monitoring devices that allow almost anyone, on any budget, to keep tabs on their homes. 

However, without the right type of security setup or taking the right precautions; home security can lead to false security. Like thousands of Tennesseans, Gary Watlington has a doorbell camera.

“I just wanted to make sure my family is safe and secure,” said Watlington.

He has an entire security system at his North Knox County home. 

“I actually did some research and found out these products are from alarm.com – which is one of the top providers of security equipment and cameras and they’ve never been hacked,” said Watlington.

Not everyone with security cameras can say that. A video from an ABC News story shows how home monitoring systems can be hacked. The young girl can hear music that is coming through the camera in her room. The person watching her through the camera then tells her she can destroy her room and the girl cries out to her mom. The mother said she couldn’t even put into words how violated she felt about the incident.  

Scott Brockamp of HIS Security in Farragut has a lot of experience with home security cameras. He said that hacks shouldn’t happen, but they do.

“Now that we have people installing their own systems, they don’t necessarily know the best practices,” said Brockamp, who is a licensed security system installer. He added that problems can usually be traced to how we connect to our cameras.

“If it is just sitting on your network and it has an accessible GUI or interface that you can communicate with that camera right from the IP address now that creates a security vulnerability,” said Brockamp.

One way to prevent someone from gaining access is to make sure it has two-factor authorization according to Brockamp.

“That’s why it’s so important. When you go to a website if it’s not you there is still a second layer of protection that’s going to keep you and your video safe,” said Brockamp.  

Watlington said that is how his system is set up.  

“All the encryptions they use. The type of secure app that they use. And everything else. So, I have no worries at all,” said Watlington.  

Brockamp said everyone also needs to remember, that most of the time a hacker gets into its home security systems can be traced back to homeowners giving out personal information. 

“As we know there are all these different scams that people try to get a person’s personal information – and that’s how they are hacking the majority of the accounts that they have. Whether it’s a spam phone call whether it is a spoof email whatever it is we’re giving up that information not understanding and knowing we’re giving it up,” said Brockamp.

So, how do you protect your security system and how do you know if you’ve been hacked? 

Experts say some signs you may be hacked include strange sounds or voices coming from the audio feature of a camera, strange unexplained camera movements and strange password changes. Some tips to prevent hacking include:

  • Using a licensed security company
  • Frequently Change your passwords  
  • Frequently update your security camera firmware and update software
  • Use a VPN or virtual private network
  • In addition, if you access your camera through wifi use a wifi protected encryption feature. 


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