Mumbai: The trend of people opting for the closed circuit television (CCTV) camera security at their homes has gained traction. The tech-savvy add-on gives the owners an instant view of their houses when they are away. With such ease of accessibility, the CCTV cameras are now aptly known as the third eye. However, the rosy 'picture' can turn into a grim view at times as these cameras are vulnerable to hacking. Cybercriminals can intrude into personal spaces with the CCTV and blackmail their targets by recording private activities. The circulation of intimate clips in digital space is another nightmarish probability.
Recently, a 21-year-old YouTuber residing in Bandra was subjected to such horror. According to reports, the digital outlaws hacked into the CCTV camera at her home, recorded explicit visuals of women from her family and made them viral on the social media platforms. Inspector (crime) Pradeep Kerkar said, “We have traced the IP address used to hack into the YouTuber's CCTV camera. Also, the semi-nude videos of her family members have been taken down from social media.”
Decoding CCTV systems: Wired vs. wireless installations, technical insights
Explaining the technicalities of a CCTV camera system, cyber expert Ankur Puranik said that there are two types of installations; one with a hardwired connection attached to a digital video recorded (DVR). All the camera wires are connected to it and the footage is stored on a hard drive. This system is more expensive. Nowadays, people prefer wireless Wi-Fi CCTV cameras that connect to the home's Wi-Fi. One can access the footage anytime with this system as there is no need for a DVR and these cameras come with a memory card slot. This system is less expensive and easy to install, much like a plug-and-play type. In this setup, the CCTV footage goes to the person's Wi-Fi, then to the camera company’s server. Simultaneously, it gets recorded on the memory card. Some companies offer apps where this footage can also be accessed, said Puranik.
He continued, “There are many tools available for hacking into a Wi-Fi set up with minimal effort. Often, people use simple passwords, making it even easier for cybercriminals to breach the system. Once hackers gain access to your Wi-Fi, they can easily guess your camera password. They can then access, control and download the CCTV footage.”
Cybersecurity tips for CCTV users
Underlining that people should take usual precautions like keeping strong passwords, Puranik also advised using the encryption protocols, avoiding names or surnames in passwords and buying branded cameras for enhanced security. Suggesting to avoid installing CCTV cameras in private areas, the cyber expert pointed out, “Wi-Fi cameras can be embedded in inconspicuous objects like chargers, plugs and watches. Installing third-party apps on your smart TV and granting access to unknown sources can pose risks. There are numerous vulnerabilities to consider, so always exercise caution.”