Internet Protocol (IP) Home Surveillance Systems: Who's Really Watching Your Home—You or a Peeping Tom?

Finding effective security devices at affordable prices is important to every homeowner. But when it comes to today's cheaper IP home surveillance systems, understanding what you're buying is crucial. While the idea of being able to view video footage of your home while you're away has its benefits, the remote features of IP surveillance systems aren't without risk.

What is an IP Home Surveillance System?

Consumer-grade IP home surveillance systems allow users to view the interior or exterior of their home through one or more digital cameras. The cameras included with IP home surveillance systems typically function the same as standard surveillance cameras. In addition to capturing video at specific time intervals, many can also be set up to record upon motion activation.

The significant difference between IP home surveillance systems and traditional closed circuit television (CCTV) camera systems is that IP systems allow you to send and receive data via the Internet. Whether you want to view recorded or live video footage of your home or adjust your system settings, you can do so remotely from just about any computer or cell phone with an Internet connection.

Benefits of IP Home Surveillance Systems

IP home surveillance systems offer a number of benefits for people who spend a lot of time away from home. If a crime such as a burglary were to occur, an IP system can provide you with the information you need to report the crime to the police. The video footage can also be very useful to law enforcement in identifying the perpetrators.

While many homeowners install IP camera systems for home security purposes, others use them as a way to check in and watch what's going on in around their home while they're away. Some families use them strictly to keep an eye on their children and/or to monitor babysitters or other hired help.

The Risks of IP Home Surveillance Systems

The controversy over IP home surveillance systems revolves around the ability for someone other than its intended user to access the system. This is especially true for users who don't properly secure their systems.

While each IP camera system comes equipped with a password-protected website for remote accessibility, the password may not be enough to protect you against hackers. All it takes is someone with criminal intent and a little hacker-know-how for your IP surveillance system to be breached.

In speaking with a few IT experts, it was their opinion that the security and protection of the IP camera login sites that consumers use to view their video feed is no better than the Pentagon, which gets hacked dozens of times a day. 

Homeowners who use a wireless local area network (WLAN) with their IP camera surveillance systems are also at increased risk of having their systems hacked. This is because WLANs are less secure than wired networks. While using a unique administrative password can make hacking into the system more difficult, it doesn't offer full-proof protection against hackers.

The danger with having someone hack into your IP system is that it can allow a criminal, such as a burglar or pedophile, intimate viewing access of you, your home, and other members of your family. This can put you and your family at risk of becoming a victim of a burglary or other malicious crime.

Tips for Protecting Your IP Home Surveillance System

According to an article published by Tom Connor, of ARS Technical, the best way to protect your IP home surveillance system from prying eyes is to spend a few minutes enabling and customizing your system's security settings. This includes setting up your DVR, NVR and IP cameras' onboard security, as well as changing your default usernames and passwords. Changing your password every few months can also help protect your system from hackers.

Just as important is ensuring your IP system is equipped with encryption and authentication features, such as WEP or AES. This allows for secure data transmission when accessing your IP system via the Internet. A minimum of 128-bit encryption is highly recommended among the IT security industry.

Ensuring your home is adequately protected is your responsibility. While an IP home surveillance system can provide an effective layer of home security, it's important to understand the risks involved. To decrease your risk of having your privacy and safety invaded by a criminal, be sure to secure your IP system against unauthorized viewers with malicious intent.

Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.

Mr. Frankel is a proud member of:

The American Society for Industrial Security.

The International Association for Counter Terrorism & Security.

The Society of Professional Locksmiths.