In August of 2013, CBS News covered a story with reports from both ABC News and CNN about a Texas couple that heard voices coming from their wireless baby monitor. Creepy... But while both spooky and a bit uneasy to hear, this story highlights the importance of security password importance and protection. Here’s the jist…
In August of 2013, a couple was home washing dishes when they heard “strange voices” coming from their two year old daughter’s room. CNN stated that the couple reported hearing someone “calling out their daughters’ name”. The father immediately entered the room to discover that voices were coming from the wireless baby monitoring camera that the couple installed to remotely monitor their daughter. After hearing the voices coming from the camera, the father knew the monitor had been hacked...
Wireless baby monitor cameras are very popular these days due to the easy set up, fairly low prices, and convenient ability to remotely monitor the camera anywhere in your home (as long as there is internet access). How these cameras work is very simple… Installation includes simply hooking up the camera to a power source followed by connecting the device to your home Wifi. You can then download the respective application for whichever handheld device (e.g. smartphone or tablet) you wish to monitor and control it from.
Unfortunately, the above story is only one of many where wireless cameras have been hacked and operated from an outside source. However, this could have all been avoided by simply following the golden rules from computer security (computer security and security cameras have something in common, after all!).
Seeing as wireless cameras rely on Wifi access, they are prone to the same vulnerabilities as Wifi computers and devices: without strong Wifi passwords and/or VPN tunnels, outsiders may be able to hack into the device. In the above story, the default password for the device was never set and/or the encryption of the wireless network was weak (as mentioned in the story, a safe recommendation would be to set up a WPA2 with these devices as they have better encryption). Due to the lack of strong password measures, a situation occurred that was akin to someone hacking into your laptop at a coffee shop with free Wifi access.
Wireless cameras are incredibly convenient and useful to home and business owners and families, but they also come with risks that require prudent oversight for proper and safe function. Wireless devices that are hacked significantly compromise the safety and integrity of your home security/monitoring system. To avoid this, as with all wireless devices, you must ensure that you have strong safeguards in place: strong passwords, encrypted wireless networks (WPA2) and VPN tunnels are very sound methods to achieve this.
After reading this story I immediately went to all my devices (and even website accounts!) and updated my security passwords to something a little stronger. Studies show it is safer to change your passwords every so often as well. So for those of you who own a camera like this, or are thinking about purchasing one, just remember to always keep your security high and have a strong password!
Yours in Security,