App-based security systems convenient, but can put owners at risk

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Today, it’s easy to watch your kids from another room in the house or keep an out for crime while you’re on vacation, thanks to in-home security cameras that link to an app on smart devices.

“This is rising in popularity and it’s one of the best features that you can use to protect your home,” says Bryanna Fox who is an associate professor in the Criminology department at the University of South Florida.

Because they connect to your phone, you can watch what happens in and outside your house anywhere you go. That’s great, according to Fox, when it comes to keeping burglars at bay.

The security systems don’t cost much and offer useful features.

“They have infrared, they can see at night. There are so many capabilities with technology today,” says Fox.

But experts say there are a few things you should think about when purchasing one. Sometimes too much technology is too much of a good thing, especially since hacking has become a common crime.

“It takes a few steps but it’s getting easier and easier to do it,” says George Burrus who is an associate professor in Criminology at USF.

He explains a big problem arises when camera owners don’t change the camera’s default security settings, making them an easy target.  Burrus says as soon as you purchase the camera and get it home change the default settings. Most of the settings are online, so it’s easy for hackers to get the information if you don’t change it.

“Then you’ll want to secure your internet router and once you’ve done those two things you should be secured,” says Burrus.

Also, make sure your passwords are complex.

“Many people tend to use their pet’s names or birthdays and that is something easy to find out just by going let’s say, to your Facebook page,” says Burrus.

He says to make passwords more complicated, because once someone has your password, they’ll be able to hack into pretty much anything on your computer or device.

“The best kinds of passwords are something like a phrase, so maybe a favorite passage from a book. Those are typically very hard to guess,” says Burrus.

The good news he says, is that most of the time, hackers are looking for much bigger sites and entities to break into, but it’s always better to play it safe when it comes to watching over your home.

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