Is your surveillance camera network safe?
Not all IP cameras are created equal, and price is only one determining factor in quality and security. How do we make sure that the system you trust to security isn’t a wide open threat in of itself?
Back in May 2017, the Department of Homeland Security’s ICS-CERT issued an advisory about an exploit in a large manufacturer’s cameras; these were not flaws that required an elite hacker, as it took a “low skill level to exploit.” ICS-CERT warned, “Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities could lead to a malicious attacker escalating his or her privileges or assuming the identity of an authenticated user and obtaining sensitive data.”
What steps can you take?
SECURE YOUR INTERNET NETWORK
Ensure firewalls are up to date with current intrusion definitions and penetration methods. If on a home network, secure your routers and change passwords frequently.
PASSWORD PROTECT YOUR CAMERAS
Most IP cameras come with same default username and password, to make installation of the camera and software easier on the end user. The problem comes when these credentials are not changed at installation, and the defaults are well known on both the darknet and open internet. This leaves cameras accessible to anyone via the internet, especially when your network is unsecured.
AVOID PORT FORWARDING
Port forwarding is a way to view your cameras directly outside of the network they reside on. An analogy: when you stay in a hotel, a visitor can get your room number by telling the desk clerk your name. This is a kind of port forwarding, and it’s clear why this is a bad idea: anyone that knows what camera to look for can get information on it if they ask in a certain way. The need for port forwarding is eliminated by investing in a sound and secure video management system, which centralizes and encrypts camera streams for viewing outside their network.
UPDATE YOUR CAMERAS
Camera manufacturers are constantly upgrading firmware to camera models not just to add new features and fix maintenance issues, but to stay on top of intrusion threats and vulnerabilities as hackers get more creative by the day. Make sure your cameras’ firmware is updated regularly.
Cameras are great physical security tools, and when deployed and maintained properly, can be as secure as any other networked device. But as creative threats rise, and attacks become broader, IP cameras are not to be overlooked as potential weak points into any network.