April 11 is National Pet Day. If you consider your pet a member of the family – you’re not alone. In fact, as many as six out of ten pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family! So we need to protect them too.
Here at FixMeStick, we all adore our office puppy, Chloe. It’s often a team effort to keep an eye on her throughout the day to make sure she doesn’t get herself into a mess, which usually involves trying to eat garbage. But if you are not allowed to bring your furry friend to work, you may want to use a pet camera to keep an eye on your ‘furbaby’ throughout the day.
What Are Pet Cameras?
Pet cameras work by connecting to the Wi-Fi network in your house to show you a live stream of your pet via your smartphone or computer. They are a great way to help you see what your pet does when they’re alone in the house.
Some pet cameras come with features such as wide camera lens and 720p HD video recording, like this Pawbo Pet Camera. There are also numerous fun features available, like on the popular Furbo, which lets you feed your pet treats even when you are away from your home.
But Is Your Pet Camera Safe From Hackers?
Believe it or not, pet cameras are a magnet for hackers as they offer a private view of your home and can broadcast sensitive information. This information can then be used to perform identity theft, blackmail, or even to help thieves break into your home when you are away.
Recently, there have been cases where baby monitors have been hacked, like in this case where the parents of a new born baby in Texas woke up to a strange voice talking to their baby over their baby monitor.
Since Wi-Fi baby monitors work in a similar way as pet cameras, how can you tell if your pet camera is safe from hackers?
How Vulnerable Is Your Pet Camera?
A simple Google search brings up a list of unsecured cameras, including those which can be viewed by anyone with an internet connection. This is because most of these Wi-Fi cameras do not have built-in security features or password protection.
Additionally, hackers can trick owners of pet cameras to give them access to these cameras using a technique called “clickjacking”. This process involves placing an “Allow” button next to a “Play” or “View” button. If the user accidentally clicks on “Allow” instead of “Play” or “View”, they would have given the hacker access to their pet cameras without any knowledge.
As a general rule, if your home’s Wi-Fi network and your pet camera is not secured with a password, they are more vulnerable to hacking. Continue reading below for more tips on how to secure your pet camera.
How To Secure Your Pet Camera
Have a strong password on your Wi-Fi network
The easiest way to protect yourself from pet camera hacking is to set up a strong password on your home Wi-Fi network. Without a strong internet password, anybody can hack into your network to monitor your activities online. Check out our blog from Safe Internet Day for more information on how to keep yourself safe online.
Encrypt your Wi-Fi data with a VPN
To get extra security on your Wi-Fi network we also recommend using a Virtual Private Network, also known as VPN. A VPN, such as this one from NordVPN, protects your privacy by creating a virtual tunnel between your Wi-Fi network and a remote server. This will hide your true location from other internet users and ensure no information can be leaked to hackers. You can learn more about VPNs by reading our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Private Networks.
Protect your pet camera itself with a strong password
The next step is to create a strong password on your pet camera itself. If you are not sure how to create a password for your pet camera, you can check your user’s manual or contact the manufacturer for more information. A strong password should consist of both upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols such as the “@” or the “$” symbol.
Keep the software up-to-date
Another way to protect your pet camera is to make sure the software stays up-to-date. Like with any other software, vulnerabilities are always being discovered and software engineers are always working to fix them by releasing new software updates. If you are not sure how to update your pet camera’s software, you can check with the makers of your pet camera for more information.
For peace-of-mind cover the lens
Our last tip to protect yourself is to cover the pet camera’s lens when you are not using it. You can do so by using a small sticker or masking tape, which can be easily removed when you do need to use it. This way, even if your pet camera has been hacked, nobody would be able to spy on your through the lens! It is the simplest and fastest way to protect yourself.
Happy National Pet Day from Marty and our favourite FixMePup!