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Home security systems: Complete safety or open security gap?

Home security systems: Complete safety or open security gap?
In pursuit of having safer homes, people unknowingly may open private life doors to hacker groups, says social media expert

By Jeyhun Aliyev

ANKARA (AA) - While technological developments every other day add new products, services and conveniences to human life, they also continue to open the doors to new problems and threats.

People's tendency to closed-circuit security systems/cameras (CCTV) to control their homes and families has recently become the new target of some hacker groups, Deniz Unay, a social media expert, told Anadolu Agency amid alarming reports on this issue.

Unay recalled that in March last year, the news that nearly 150,000 cameras -- served by a security company in the US -- were hacked had wide repercussions.

It was because this security firm was handling the security works of some strategic places, such as hospitals, prisons, and Tesla headquarters, he said.

He also touched upon the "dramatic news" back in 2018 and 2019 about the smart home systems and home security cameras.

He emphasized that, especially in the UK, after a home security camera was hacked, a child abuser tried to contact the child at home.

"This revealed to us how great the danger is. And it was not the last. A family's baby monitor camera was hacked in the US," he added.

"I am afraid that these are just the ones we have heard. Unfortunately, many more are happening, and if precautions are not taken, they will continue to have worse results," he warned.

Hacking smart home systems and remotely interfering with electronic items at home will have dangerous consequences when considering "some bad scenarios," Unal said.

For instance, he said, operating an oven or a fire-prone device with remote access may cause a fire in the house and building, or remotely hacked devices may break down and cause serious economic losses.

- How are security systems hacked?

There is more than one way to hack a security system, Unay said.

"When the servers of the company providing security camera services are hacked, an administrator key that provides access to all cameras and smart home systems served by that company is seized," he stressed.

Noting that these administrator keys are used by the employees of the security company for remote access and support to the users, Unal said that "malicious use" of these keys or the hacking of the employees' devices also creates a "serious vulnerability."

"In this way, passwords and user names in the entire network are captured and access to the desired camera or smart home system is achieved," he asserted.

Unal went on to say that in addition to this, the internet networks of the houses and workplaces that are accessed without permission are also "infiltrated," and the door to access all other devices and information over the internet network also gets open.

Security cameras can be hacked and monitored with attacks on electronic cards and chips that provide internet access through these cameras, he said.

The expert highlighted that the "security vulnerabilities" that may occur on the modem or devices connected to the modem that people use at home are another potential threats.

"With hacking attacks against these devices, access to the cameras can be achieved," he said.

- Users' rights

Unay pointed out that after hacking, users suffer from pecuniary loss and intangible damages.

"Some negative and legal issues such as violation of personal privacy, child abuse, sharing of private property data can be given as examples of these damages," he said.

He noted that at this point, ethical and legal issues cause serious compensation lawsuits to be filed against companies providing security services.

In the US, Unal said, the prosecution continues with the demand for up to 20 years in prison for the criminals identified after the hacking of 150,000 cameras.

In addition, the fact that users have the right to sue for damages against the company is obvious, he said.

"As you can see, it is possible for a simple security vulnerability to turn into hundreds of lawsuits at once," Unal noted.

- What precautions can be taken?

As part of the suggestion to protect homes and businesses from such threats, Unal said for security cameras and smart home systems; it is "absolutely necessary" to get support from professional and experienced experts.

"Unfortunately, the cameras that people quickly buy and install without paying attention to security measures can be suitable for security vulnerabilities and hacking."

He underlined that it is also necessary to turn off the internet of security cameras at home as a camera with "outside access" is easier to be hacked.

"If you have a computer at home, you can access your computer with remote access software and take the image of the camera from your own computer. However, what you need to pay attention to here is that the antivirus and firewalls of the computer you will use should be active and up-to-date," he added.

Unal also proposed to create a web page and access the server where one will watch the camera by logging into this web page with a user name and a strong password.

"The web page you will prepare must have a secure SSL certificate. In this way, you add a new layer to your security wall," he said.

In case of purchasing this service from a security company, one should immediately change the usernames and passwords given by default with strong and unpredictable ones, Unal suggested.

"Generally, people do not change the passwords of modems and other devices they install in their homes, and this allows hackers to access your devices faster," he concluded.

source: News Feed
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