Ring cameras can be a great safety tool, but the device can be manipulated by criminals if you don’t take precautions.
Thieves can gain access to your security cameras and even make false police reports.
In one home, a strange voice comes over a Ring camera in a little girl’s bedroom. The family’s security system had been hacked.
In another instance, police knocked on the door of a home after responding to a fake call of a disturbance.
Both are examples of what the FBI calls “Ring swatting.”
Now two men accused of carrying out a nationwide swatting spree and hacking into dozens of Ring cameras have been indicted by a federal grand jury in California.
One of the incidents allegedly occurred in Darien, Illinois, about a year ago. When police responded to the house, they found nothing going on and determined it to be a hoax.
“The cameras are vulnerable because they are not properly secured,” said Cyrus Walker, a cyber security expert with Chicago-based Data Defenders LLC.
According to Walker, you have to not only secure the cameras but the internet network that allows them to connect to each other and the outside world.
“The one thing I recommend is that users make sure their wireless networks are as secure as they can be, which means that they have strong passwords,” Walker said. “That they are not broadcasting their SSID. That they have encryption enabled to the highest degree and that they separate the networks.”
Walker said cameras are not the only way in for hackers. TVs, game systems and even refrigerators can be connected to the internet and can be compromised.
He said the first thing you should do when you buy a new connected device is change its default security settings.
“The device that you bought, someone else bought also, and they have those same default settings,” Walker said. “So it is extremely important that when you crack the tape on that box and you plug it up, the very first thing you do is that you change the username and the password on that device so that only you have access to that device at that point.”
Cybersecurity, Walker said, isn’t difficult, but it does require people to do more than just plug in their devices and turn them on.