How secure are DIY home security systems?

Local News

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Keeping an eye on your home and property using do-it-yourself home security systems is on the rise – but with that comes the risk of some people having access to your own cameras.

Low-cost systems are designed to minimize the risk of break-ins and protect you, your family, and your belongings. There is a lot you can do with these home security technologies and there is a lot that can be done to you.

It was a frightening invasion of security in an 8-year-old’s bedroom. “I’m your best friend,” said a mysterious voice to the little girl. “I’m Santa Claus.”

Alyssa LeMay could hear the man’s voice, but she couldn’t see the person telling her to destroy her room.

“I’m Santa Claus, don’t you want to be my friend,” he asked. “You can mess up your room. You can break your TV; you can do whatever you want.”

The voice was coming from the very device that was supposed to keep her safe and secure – a Ring security camera.

The LeMay family installed the camera in the bedroom Alyssa shares with her two sisters, just days before the device was apparently hacked.

“I watched the video,” said mom Ashley LeMay. “They could watch them sleeping. They could’ve watched them change. I mean they could’ve seen all kinds of things.”

That’s something the LeMay family admits they did not do.

The president of Sonitrol, John Rama, explained the risks with DIY home security systems.

“How is someone able to do that? First of all, what a creep that would do that?”

“I think this guy was able to use the default password and get in there and talk to that child,” he said.

Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks that can prevent burglars from hacking your security system.

“It needs to be a unique password. [It] should not be your street address or phone number or birthday,” he said.

  • Change the default password.
  • Use a combination of symbols, letters and numbers.
  • Secure your router.
  • If you use a wifi network for your home security system, always keep it protected with a password.

“I got an alert on my phone from the Ring app.”

But for many homeowners, the pursuit of justice outweighs the risks.

Steve Adkins lives on Charleston’s west side. He caught a porch pirate at 4 a.m. stealing his belongings.

“A man came up on my porch, the dog a was barking, he grabbed my fishing bag and he walked off,” he said.

Video alerts being sent straight to his phone and connecting with neighbors who also use the system is why DIY makes sense.

“I filed a report,’ he said. “Showed them the video and they gave me a case number. I am not expecting much but it’s important. You may not get your property back. Police will know and maybe detect a pattern.”

The upside to a DIY system is the price tag. But make sure you select a system that has encrypted signals.

A system with unsecured encryptions can be accessed by external sources easily. You can also opt for additional tamper resistance features and be sure to install antivirus software.

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