How to Protect Your CCTV System from Outside Threats

04 April 2023

cctv camera

We are in an age where technology has become a staple of our lives and with this, it is no surprise that devices come under attack from outside threats like hackers and automated computer programs. In order for users to remotely view their CCTV, the system needs to have an internet connection. However, this means these systems are vulnerable to potential attacks. 

Fortunately, there are many things that businesses can do to prevent their security cameras from being compromised.

1. Always Procure Equipment from a Trusted Source

We all know the saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ and it really comes into its own in this scenario. It may be tempting to purchase inexpensive NVRs, servers, cameras and related CCTV equipment from one of the many online retail platforms, but not only do they have poor quality hardware but also poorly designed software to keep manufacturing costs low. The situation is similar to counterfeits that can be found on these online retail platforms that can be proven to be harmful. Cost-cutting manufacturing comes at the expense of the user and businesses they are installed into, there are many brands of cameras that are sold at such low prices and are almost guaranteed to lack the critical research and development to keep them secure from internet-based attacks.

Hackers and other outside threats are able to exploit oversights in poorly designed systems that lead to widespread vulnerabilities. Mitigating these threats early, at the design stage with proven and trusted equipment, will ensure that the CCTV systems installed will be as best protected as possible.

2. Passwords, and 2-Factor Authentication

Password security is so important that is now widely taught to people of school age all the way to those that are retired. Passwords are usually the first line of defence for preventing unwanted access to computers and IoT devices. It is recommended that all devices are set with unique and strong passwords for every device you own. Using a reputable software-based password manager can be a good way to keep passwords secure and prevent them from being forgotten or lost. Do not share passwords with anyone who you do not trust, or who may share it with others. Changing passwords at least every 90 days and at the very most, 6 months will always help to bolster password security.

Don’t forget to secure email and social media accounts with strong passwords as well. Many times, it is not the password on a security camera or system itself that leads to a hack, it is the recovery email account that is stolen first so this is a vital step to help protect yourself against outside threats.

A second line of defence to password security is called two-factor authentication (2FA). Two-factor authentication works by requiring a separate device, usually a smartphone or an authenticator App to allow a login to happen. Many of us already use two-factor authentication when you log in to your bank account online or other secure access sites and they would text you a security code. Set up two-factor authentication on your email and any other device that supports it for an extra layer of security.

3. Secure WiFi Network Access

Using WiFi or wire-free security cameras for convenience adds another point of attack. Although hackers have to be physically present near the devices, it is not out of the ordinary for WiFi networks and devices to get hacked. To protect WiFi cameras and networks we recommend updating the software on your WiFi router. If your router has no updates available, then it may be a good time to consider replacing it. Utilising technology like WPA2 ensures that data sent or received over your wireless network is encrypted, and only people with your network password have access to it if there is a need to allow access to your WiFi then we recommend setting up your router’s guest network instead of sharing the main network password.

4. Purchase Proven and Professional Products

Products that are designed for a quantity of sales over the quality of the product are less secure than professional products. Cost saving on the manufacturing processes leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to cybersecurity. Many cloud-based security systems don’t offer the owner much control over their recorded footage or where that footage is stored. It is important to consider investing in a professional security system that requires hands-on configuration with an NVR/server located on the premises. While using CCTV systems that do not require much physical hardware may sound like a good idea for convenience; it's important to understand they are less secure. Managing a professional CCTV system may require more hands-on input but having control over your system is absolutely necessary for the protection of your physical security devices.

5. Check for Firmware and Software Updates

This is key, always check with the manufacturer for updates to the software or firmware for your CCTV system. Most updates are free and can be found via the manufacturer’s website and in most cases they send information directly to installers on these updates or can update automatically. It is good practice to review and check for updates on a quarterly basis as updates may provide fixes to critical vulnerabilities or exploits that can be used by hackers and outside threats.

6. Improving Network Security

The Internet connection and local computer network are the gateway for the CCTV cameras and recorders. If the network is compromised and widely open to the world to outside threats, it makes it easier for hackers to attack cameras and other IoT devices inside the network.

Managing your own network with a good firewall and having an IT professional audit your network is a great way to get started. Checking your router to ensure that the firewall is enabled, and configuring strict settings is one of the first steps you should take. A good common practice is to deny access from foreign IP addresses. For example, ban IP address ranges originating from certain countries that notoriously target security cameras and systems.

A Plus Security offers a range of bespoke security systems to fulfil your needs. Book a call with us here, or get in contact through our enquiry form 

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