Three mistakes to avoid when installing home security cameras.

Security cameras give us peace of mind that our homes and valuables are safe when we are away. A doorbell camera can be a great deterrent to sneaky thieves. With the holidays fast approaching, tap or click here for my top tips for protecting your packages.

They are not fail-safe, however. Scammers can jam Wi-Fi connected video doorbells and steal from you before you realize what’s happened. It is rare but possible. Tap or click to discover clever ways to stop them in their tracks.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect the devices that protect you.

1. You paid.

We all want to save money, but going for the cheapest option is never tech smart. I don’t just mean that you’ll miss essential features either. Cheaper brands are also more likely to save money when it comes to security.

Here are the features that I think are important:

• HD audio and video recording (you’ll want to have it in case something happens and you need the footage)

• A privacy shutter that covers the lens when you don’t want the camera to film

• At least seven days of storage

• Regular security and firmware updates

my choice is SimpliSafe, a sponsor of my show. I prefer DIY options that allow you to order what you need online and set it all up yourself without paying for installation or an expensive annual contract.

Speaking of saving money, these five mistakes are like flushing money down the toilet.

2. You just plug it in to make it work.

Repeat after me: default passwords need to be changed. This step is vital when it comes to your security system or even just a standalone camera.

There’s no excuse for using a weak password either. Even if you don’t pay for a password manager, major browsers have built-in tools that generate and store unique passwords for you.

If you use a password manager, make sure it uses at least 256-bit encryption and two-factor authentication.

Another option is to use an online password generator to create something virtually impossible to guess. You can write it down digitally (not on your desk!) or even in a paper notebook. Keep this away from your computer.

Tap or click to access one of the best free password generator sites.

3. You ignore updates.

You are used to updating your smartphone and your computer. You should do the same for the rest of your connected devices.

Updates improve functionality and usability but, more importantly, often enhance the security of a device. Automatic updates are usually enabled by default, but you should log in and check in occasionally to make sure you’re protected.

You can check your software version through the app on your device. For example, open the app and navigate to Account > Firmware update if you have a Wyze system. Here you can make sure you have the latest software for each device. Otherwise there is a Upgrade All options at the bottom.

I get a lot of questions about security cameras, but even more about what to do if you suspect someone is spying on your phone. Tap or click to show signs that a hacker can see everything you do.

Bonus error: you forgot your router.

Your router settings affect everything connected to your Wi-Fi, including your security cameras. Make sure yours is locked.

Here are some helpful tips:

• Keep your router up to date like you would any device in your home.

• A good router should have strong encryption. The older standard is Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2). Newer devices use the superior WPA3. If it’s been years since you’ve updated your router, take my quick quiz to find the right model for your home.

• A built-in firewall is standard in most routers manufactured over the past decade. You can change the settings to customize the data that comes in and out of your router, but be careful because you can make things worse. The default setting is sufficient for most situations.

• Go to your router settings and disable remote access. It’s not worth leaving it on if you need a tech to go through it. You will usually find this setting under Remote Administration.

Keep your technological know-how

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from across the country. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, click the link below for a recent episode.

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Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando”.

Discover all the latest technologies on the Kim Komando show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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