Parents who use so-called nanny cams — video cameras that keep tabs on babies — might want to examine that practice. Hackers, including sexual predators, are now targeting baby monitors.
A hacker used a baby monitor to spy on a two-year-old girl and say sexually explicit things to her, a Houston TV station reported. The girl’s father, Marc Gilbert, said he and his wife were awakened by a real-life nightmare.
They heard a voice telling their two-year-old daughter Allyson to wake up. The voice called Allyson by name and made sexually explicit statements to her.
When the Gilberts entered their daughter’s room, they realized that the voice was coming from the baby monitor. Worse, they saw that the nanny cam was actually watching them. The hacker cursed at the couple before the husband unplugged it, ending the episode. The hacker had a British or European accent.
Gilbert believes that the hacker was able to learn his daughter’s name from a sign on the wall, and that the hacker was able to get into the monitor through a router that is connected to the Internet.
“I felt like somebody broke into your house,” Gilbert said. “As a father, I’m supposed to protect her against people like this. So it’s a little embarrassing to say the least, but it’s not going to happen again.”
Wi-Fi Can Be Hacked
Any device that uses Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology to connect to the Internet can be hacked. Wi-Fi hacking is nothing new; it’s called war driving. In war driving, a person moving through an area uses a smartphone or computer to try and connect with every Wi-Fi device around in an attempt to get access.
Sophisticated hackers actually have special antennas and other equipment designed for war driving. Others use malware to hack into surveillance devices.
The Gilbert family’s experience shows how vulnerable any camera connected to the Internet is to hacking. Webcams, digital cameras, and cameras on cellphones can also be hacked.
In other words, a hacker can turn your smartphone, digital camera, baby monitor, or security cameras into a security system to spy on you. This can be abused for all sorts of nefarious purposes, including stealing information, and casing a home or business for burglary or robbery.
The notorious Finfisher, or Finspy, program, which is marketed to governments by the British company Gamma International, can actually take over smart phones and other devices and use them to spy on individuals. A scary marketing video uncovered by WikiLeaks shows police officials using Finfisher to watch criminals’ activities through their own smart phones.
The bottom line is that any camera that is linked to the Internet or to a wireless network can be a threat to privacy. Experts urge consumers to make sure everything is password protected – even baby monitors.
“Video baby monitors can broadcast to TVs, hand-held receivers, or even over WiFi to PCs or smartphones,” wrote computer security expert Lisa Vaas at the NakedSecurity.com blog. “That means you can keep an eye on your children from almost anywhere. Unfortunately, it also means that others can, and do. Be careful with these devices’ security. That starts with changing default passwords. Those who can’t figure this out should ask for help from somebody with security expertise — somebody they trust with the safety of extremely precious things.”
Of course, there is no way to keep a sophisticated hacker from hacking into a camera, but if the password is complex enough, they might just move on to other targets.