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How to set up a phone as a security camera with remote access

Discover how you can reuse a mobile phone as an IP camera with remote access over Meshnet.

Introduction

Home security cameras are increasingly common for added peace of mind. Instead of investing in a costly system, many opt for budget-friendly alternatives, such as transforming older phones into security cameras. This approach allows you to test the waters without a high upfront cost. Normally, to access the camera remotely, you'd have to set up port forwarding on your router.
Fortunately, you can completely bypass port forwarding by using Meshnet. With this feature, you can create a virtual device network with remote and local devices. The connected devices can then interact with one another as if they were on the same local area network (LAN). This way, you to gain access to your phone security camera without compromising the security of your home network.
This guide contains a video tutorial, as well as written instructions, on how you can create a remotely accessible security camera by pairing Android and iOS phones with Meshnet.
Android
iOS

Before you begin

Make sure that:
Note
The article demonstrates the setup procedure using Android 13 as an example.

Install IP Webcam software

With all of the prerequisites taken care of, you can install IP Webcam — the application that will turn your phone into a security camera. You can download IP Webcam for free from the Google Play Store.
Tapping the Install button.

Set up login credentials

By default, the IP Webcam interface does not require any authentication. To minimize the risk of unauthorized access, it is best to secure your camera with strong login credentials. To enable login authentication:
  1. 1.
    Open IP Webcam.
  2. 2.
    Under Connection settings, tap the Local broadcasting option.
    Tapping the Local broadcasting option.
  3. 3.
    Select Login/password.
  4. 4.
    Enter your desired username and password combination and click OK.
    Entering username and password and tapping OK.

Select a recording location

It is recommended to select a specific directory for your recordings. This way, all of the footage is organized and easily accessible. To choose a folder:
  1. 1.
    Open IP Webcam.
  2. 2.
    Under IP Webcam settings, select Video preferences.
  3. 3.
    Tap Video recording > Save videos to.
  4. 4.
    Select your preferred folder or create a new one and tap Use this folder.

Start your security camera

Your phone is now fully prepared to function as a security camera. To start the IP Webcam server:
  1. 1.
    Open IP Webcam.
  2. 2.
    Tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner and select Start server.
    Tapping Start server.
  3. 3.
    If requested, grant IP Webcam the required permissions.
After a few seconds, the camera output will be visible on-screen.

Access your security camera over Meshnet

Caution
Ensure you set up strong user authentication for your camera's web interface. Without it, other devices in your Meshnet that have remote access permissions enabled can also access the camera, potentially compromising its security.
Your security camera is now active, and you can access it either from your local network or remotely, using Meshnet.
  1. 1.
    Copy the Nord name of your new security camera from the NordVPN application.
  2. 2.
    Open your internet browser.
  3. 3.
    In the URL field, paste the copied Nord name, add :8080/, and press Enter. Example secret.meerkat-sierranevada.nord:8080/
  4. 4.
    Type in your login username and password and click Sign in.
    Logging in to the IP Webcam web interface.
  5. 5.
    Next to Video renderer, select Browser to monitor your camera in real-time.
    Selecting the Browser video renderer.

Start recording

To start recording the footage of your security camera, click the Record manual button under Recorder control in the IP Webcam web interface.
Starting a recording.
After you have started the recording, you will see the name of the file in which the footage is being saved.
Name of the recording.
If you wish to stop the recording, click the Stop button.

View recorded footage

You can check all of the recorded footage from your security camera in the Video archive tab of the IP Webcam web interface.
Recordings in the Video archive tab.

Before you begin

Make sure that:
Note
The article demonstrates the setup procedure using iOS 15.7.9 as an example.

Install LiveReporter software

Once your iOS device is ready to be transformed into a security camera, you can install the Live-Reporter Live Camera app for free from the App Store. This app converts the device’s camera feed into a real time streaming protocol (RTSP) stream, which can be accessed over the network.

Set up user authentication

The default configuration of the Live-Reporter app does not require any user authentication to access the RTSP stream. This can leave the stream vulnerable, as other devices on the network would have unrestricted access to it.
To enable authentication:
  1. 1.
    Launch Live-Reporter Live Camera.
  2. 2.
    If prompted, grant permission to access the camera by tapping OK.
    Tapping "OK" in the permission prompt.
  3. 3.
    In the lower-left corner, tap the settings icon.
    Settings icon highlighted.
  4. 4.
    Switch to the Network tab.
  5. 5.
    Under On demand stream, enable the Authentication toggle and enter your preferred username and password. Example
    Authentication toggle enabled with the username and password entered.
  6. 6.
    Tap Save setting, and OK.
Now, the video feed from your iOS device will be accessible only after entering the correct authentication details.
Tip
You can change details, such as the video resolution, framerate, and quality on the Video tab of the settings menu.

Access your security camera over Meshnet

Caution
Ensure you set up strong user authentication for your camera's web interface. Without it, other devices in your Meshnet that have remote access permissions enabled can also access the camera, potentially compromising its security.
To access your security camera’s stream, you need to use a media player that can view RTSP streams. For this example, the VLC media player will be used.
For specific guidelines, select the device you want to access your camera from:

Windows, macOS, and Linux

  1. 1.
    Copy the Nord name of your new security camera from the NordVPN app.
  2. 2.
    Open VLC media player.
  3. 3.
    On Windows and Linux: from the menu bar, select Media > Open network stream.
    On macOS: from the menu bar, select File > Open network.
  4. 4.
    In the address field, type in rtsp:// and paste the copied Nord name. Example
    Address field with 'rtsp://' and Nord name entered.
  5. 5.
    Click Play (on Windows and Linux) or Open (on macOS).
  6. 6.
    Enter the authentication details you set up previously and click OK.
    Username and password for the RTSP stream entered.
The video stream from your iOS device should now be visible in the VLC media player.
Note
If the Windows security alert box during the configuration, select both the private and public networks options, and then click Allow access to allow VLC connections through the firewall.
Selecting 'Allow access' with both options selected in the Windows Firewall prompt.

Android

  1. 1.
    Copy the Nord name of your iOS device from the NordVPN app.
  2. 2.
    Launch VLC media player.
  3. 3.
    In the lower-right corner, select More, and tap the New stream card.
    Selecting the 'New stream' card in the 'More' screen.
  4. 4.
    In the network address field, type in rtsp:// and paste the copied Nord name. Example
    Address field with 'rtsp://' and Nord name entered.
  5. 5.
    Tap the arrow button on the right to connect.
  6. 6.
    Enter the authentication details you set up previously and tap OK.
    Authentication details for the RTSP stream entered.
The video stream from your iOS device should now be visible in the VLC media player.

iOS

  1. 1.
    Copy the Nord name of your camera device from the NordVPN app.
  2. 2.
    Launch VLC media player.
  3. 3.
    If requested, grant the local network access permission by tapping OK.
    Tapping "OK" in the permission prompt.
  4. 4.
    From the bottom navigation bar, select Network and tap Open network stream.
    Tapping "Open network stream" from the "Network" screen.
  5. 5.
    In the address field, type in rtsp:// and paste the copied Nord name. Example
    Address field with 'rtsp://' and Nord name entered.
  6. 6.
    Tap Open network stream.
  7. 7.
    Enter the authentication details you set up previously and select Login.
    Authentication details for the RTSP stream entered.
The video stream from your new camera should now be visible in the VLC media player.
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