A family was shocked to find photos from the nursery inside their home shared widely on the web. Photo: KTTC.
One Minnesota family was recently surprised to hear a song playing in their baby’s nursery room — because it wasn’t a lullaby, and it wasn’t any tune they’d turned on.
The Rochester mother, who doesn’t want to be identified publicly, has said that their nanny cam was hacked. And what she discovered next was even more unsettling.“We were sleeping in bed, and basically heard some music coming from the nursery, but then when we went into the room the music turned off,” the mom told KTTC. “We were able to track down the IP address through the Foscam software, and found out that it was coming from Amsterdam.”
Following a link in the address, she says she was led to a website with thousands of photos from the inside of various homes in more than 15 different countries. Theirs was right there among those violated. “And it’s not just nurseries,” said the mother of the spaces under surveillance. “It’s people’s living rooms, their bedrooms, their kitchens. Every place that people think is sacred and private in their home is being accessed.“
“You can literally just sort by whatever country suits your fancy and sort by whatever rooms that you fancy,” continued the mom, who added that whomever hacked into their nanny cam could also control the camera and move it around to view different spots. “It’s pretty sick.”
And unfortunately, it’s not uncommon. “It happens every day,” security camera expert Bryan Lagarde tells Yahoo Parenting. “People just don’t realize that there are websites dedicated to finding open webcams and posting the footage.”
Lagarde, a father of three and a director of ProjectNola, the largest crime camera system in the country, says parents can protect themselves with a few easy steps. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you can check in on your child when you need to,” he says of nanny cams. “But like anything else in life, what can be used for comfort one moment can be turned against you in the next.”
1. Never rely on the default password.
All cameras come with a default user name and password. Those default passwords are a cinch to find online, though, so a lot of these sites go after the easy cameras that they don’t even need to hack into. “The people behind these websites just search for cameras with the default password and plug in,” he says, noting that not changing your password is “like giving everyone in the city a key to you house.”
2. Change your password frequently.
“Best practice is to update your password once a month,” he says. And make the code a random one, always varied “with capital letters, lower case letters combined with at least one number.”
3. Get the most up-to-date firmware for monitors.
“Think of firmware as software — it’s a set of instructions that make a device operate, and it’s regularly updated,” says Lagarde. “If you have a company that makes baby monitors and they get complaints about security hacks, they will make fixes. But you need to have the latest version to have the most updated protection.”
4. Consider non-WIFI cameras if only viewing them at home.
“Realistically, anything can be hacked,” he says. But it’s a much smaller group of people that can possibly gain access to your camera if you’re using a radio frequency video monitor versus a wifi-enabled version, because a hacker would have to be within short range (as in within an apartment complex).
5. Don’t give away personal identifiers.
When focusing the view on the crib, tighter shots are better, Lagarde advises. Somebody with a camera’s IP address can determine the camera’s approximate location, pinpointed down to the city. “So if you have a wide shot that looks out a window or shows furniture or art with your child’s name on it,” he says, “that makes you more easily identified, which is obviously not a good thing.”