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Can Doorbell Cameras Be Hacked?

Can Doorbell Cameras Be Hacked?

Rapid advances in technology have allowed us to incorporate cool new toys and tools into our daily lives. The doorbell camera is no exception. Gone are the days of staring out your peephole or even opening your front door without knowing who lurks on the other side.

Doorbell cameras aren’t relegated to large mansions, either. Many renters connect the security tools to their apartment or townhome doors. Since the 2014 market debut of the Ring Video Doorbell, the tech product has become a critical trove of evidence for law enforcement. Doorbell camera footage has helped to catch criminals from package thieves to robbery and murder suspects.

As Erin Siminoff, the wife of Ring inventor Jamie Siminoff, says, “It’s like caller ID for the front door.”  Many people rest easier knowing they have the tool on hand. But a cybersecurity question still lingers: “Can doorbell cameras be hacked?”

How doorbell cameras work

What you need to know about doorbell cameras

After Ring hit the market, many tech companies followed suit and developed their own doorbell cameras. Today, there’s a wide array of doorbell cameras to choose from. Along with Ring, options from Google Nest, Arlo, and Belkin are among the most popular.

Complex home security systems are often associated with astronomical cost. Many consumers might have found the installation and maintenance out of their price range. Doorbell cameras are affordable, and don’t require a lot of tech equipment or an intricate installation process.

How doorbell cameras work   

Most available doorbell cameras come equipped with a built-in video camera, speaker, and motion detector system. When motion or audio activates the doorbell security, the camera begins to record the area around your front door. 

Depending on the make and model of your doorbell camera, the range the recording covers can vary. The recordings typically average between 155° and 180° from your front door, and up to 50 feet away from your home. If you download your doorbell camera to your smartphone, you’ll receive an alert each time it’s activated.

Here’s the basic way to set-up a doorbell camera:

  • Disconnect any pre-existing, hardwired doorbells
  • If you’ve purchased a battery-powered camera, follow the instructions in the owner’s manual to connect with your Wi-Fi. Ensure the battery is fully-charged before you complete the installation process
  • If you’ve purchased a hard-wired video doorbell, you may need a professional to install it, as hardwiring it to your home may require expertise
  • Mount your video doorbell next to, or above, your front door
  • Download the manufacturer’s doorbell app, and customize your settings
  • Plug in your doorbell camera and select the chime 

The benefits of doorbell cameras

Doorbell cameras offer an added layer of personal and home security that can help protect you from potential thieves and criminals. Some of the benefits of installing a doorbell video camera include:

  • Affordability: Most doorbell cameras cost between $50-$150 for wireless models with minimal features, and $120-$300 for a hardwired video doorbell loaded with cool bells and whistles
  • Deterrent for criminals: In recent years, porch pirates have ramped up their activity — even in suburban and rural areas. Over 2,600 U.S. law enforcement departments have partnered with Ring to actively deter these criminals.
  • Ensuring safety: Imagine you’re waiting for a loved one to arrive at your home, or you live alone and want to guarantee no one is lurking around your door before you return. Your doorbell camera will alert you to any activity around your front door. It can also help ensure the safety of anyone leaving or entering your home.
  • Safe communication: Many of us are hesitant to open the door to anyone we don’t know. Your doorbell camera app will allow you to communicate with anyone who’s at your door without opening it.
  • Night vision: Most video doorbells have night vision. It allows you to clearly see who, or what, is setting off your motion detector. Doorbell cameras have captured viral video footage of wildlife creatures, like mountain lions and moose

Crimes solved with the help of doorbell footage

Each time something activates your video doorbell, it records the activity occurring around the front of your property. In the decade since the technology emerged, law enforcement has used doorbell camera footage to solve numerous crimes, including several murders.

Some of the most famous examples of smart doorbell footage used in crime-solving include:

Hackers might target your doorbell camera to steal your Internet passwords and confidential information, or even to spy on you.

Why hackers might target your doorbell camera

Unfortunately, whenever you have a device connected to the Internet, there’s a potential risk for hackers and other criminals to launch a cyberattack and hack into your system and wreak havoc in your life. 

Hackers look for opportunities for financial gain, along with other crimes. If a smart device is hackable, chances are someone will try to infiltrate its system.

Hackers might target your doorbell camera to play a prank, disable your security system to leave your home open for a robbery, steal your Internet passwords and confidential information, or even to spy on you. 

In short, doorbell cameras can be hacked. And some video doorbell firms allow their employees open access to your doorbell footage. In 2023, courts ordered Amazon to pay $5.8 million to the FTC  (Federal Trade Commission) due to the security risks presented by employee access to Ring footage.

However, you can take steps to protect your home and cybersecurity, and prevent cybercriminals from hacking into your doorbell app.

How to protect your cybersecurity

Thankfully, you can help secure your doorbell camera, and add security measures to help prevent a hack. Protect your cybersecurity, your home, and your peace of mind by following these steps:

  • Avoid using the default password on your doorbell camera app. Use a strong password that includes upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. Periodically update your password.
  • Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is an important measure for your most sensitive Internet applications, including your doorbell camera.
  • Automatically install new updates. Doorbell camera manufacturers are constantly looking for new ways to protect your security and ensure a seamless product experience. It’s important that you download and install any new updates offered via your doorbell camera app.  
  • Delete old footage. Clear out the recorded history stored in your doorbell camera, and don’t hold onto any private or sensitive recordings.
  • Fortify your cybersecurity by using VPN-only access to the network you use for your doorbell camera. 

Although video doorbells have numerous benefits, doorbell cameras can still be hacked. It’s important to take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

Check out the cybersecurity tools offered by What Is My IP Address. And be sure to read our blog for the latest in cybersecurity insights, tips, and trends.

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