As if we didn’t already have enough to worry about with some of our financial transactions being compromised over the past few years, now we hear that hackers are hacking into our baby monitors! Last week it was reported on ABC, CBS, and CNN news that a hacker hacked into the baby monitor of a family in Houston, TX.
The Gilbert family reported that they heard a voice coming from their 2-year-old daughter’s bedroom. The voice called their daughter by name, used profanity, and said sexually explicit things to her. When the parents came into the room, the camera turned toward them, and the hacker began insulting them. The Gilberts said that the voice was coming through the baby monitor. They quickly unplugged the monitor.
The baby monitor was hooked up to the home’s wireless Internet. The family believes the hacker hacked into their wireless network and gained control of their baby monitor and their webcam. According to Sophos, a computer security firm, to verify the report, reporters from ABC News” drove through a neighborhood with a baby monitor video receiver on the dashboard and picked up crystal-clear video feeds left and right.”
Baby monitors leave homes vulnerable because they’re on fixed frequencies and put out a signal as long as the monitor is turned on. Video baby monitors can broadcast to TVs, hand-held receivers, or even over Wi-Fi to PCs or smartphones.
This is not the first report of baby monitors being hacked. An Illinois father sued the maker of a video baby monitor in 2009 because the baby monitor allowed their neighbors to hear everything that was said in the nursery. The father complained that the manufacturer didn’t adequately disclose the monitor’s lack of privacy issue. In 2011, a new mother reported that on her baby monitor she could see her neighbor putting his son to bed.
A computer security expert, Dave Chronister, told ABC News that if a password is not set or is weak or is the default password, it is like having no password at all. According to Chronister, parents can protect their homes by using a strong password made up of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. He recommends using Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) to set up passwords because “it uses better encryption standards and is very difficult to crack especially combined with a good password.” Other protective measures are to password protect your router, IP camera, and enable your firewall.
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