A problem with Chinese camera company Foscam’s software for baby monitors allows anyone who knows the camera’s exact web address to access the camera and view live and recorded footage. This is a particularly significant problem because the web addresses of many devices connected to the Internet can be found using alternative search engines such as SHODAN. The issue was discovered and publicized on the company’s support forum, where users of the product noted that the username and password requirement could be bypassed simply by pressing “OK.” Foscam has promised to update the software to fix the problem.
While this particular problem should be fixed shortly, this issue highlights an ongoing problem with the ever-progressing technologies that allow for capture of video and sound in previously well-guarded private settings. For example, in 2012 The New York Times reported that corporate board rooms could be easily accessed by even the moderately computer savvy. From law firms to the board room of Goldman Sachs, the expert consulted by the Times was able to enter with ease. The access points were the companies’ video conferencing systems. Much like the Foscam baby monitors, video conferencing systems can be an easy entry point for those wishing to gain private information.
But it is not just big business that is at risk. For years, home security cameras have been the targets of hackers and peeping toms. The posting of naked pictures secretly taken from inside one’s home, should be enough to give anyone pause. Further, just recently a bug was discovered allowing those who use Google Chrome to be spied on through their computer’s microphone. All this may be shocking to those who would never let a stranger into their home, let alone into their baby’s nursery. In 2013, a Houston couple was shocked to hear the voice of a strange man yelling obscenities at their baby through their baby monitor.
Changing your devices’ preset passwords and making sure all of your security patches are up to date should help prevent unwanted intrusions. Yet any time a device is connected to the Internet and someone has enough time and desire, there is a risk that your privacy will be violated. Ultimately, the best protection may be to keep technologies connected to the Internet out of private areas in your home. But, as always, one must balance modern conveniences against threats to one’s privacy.