Let’s talk about another kind of safety that’s necessary when it comes to your baby monitor, especially if you have a monitor that connects over your local area network and Wi-Fi network.
I’ve mentioned before that that I’m fairly techie, so there are things that would naturally come to my mind that others might not think of. We’ve talked about interference from baby monitors, and the possibility of your neighbors being able to eavesdrop on you, but there’s something more serious to think of. And that’s people hacking into your system.
In the spring of 2014, there was a news article about a couple in Cincinnati, Ohio that monitored their 10 month old daughter via a wireless IP camera that was set up in the nursery. One night, the mother was asleep when she was startled awake in the middle of the night by the sound of a man’s voice coming from her baby’s room. She grabbed her mobile phone and accessed the camera to check on her daughter. The camera was moving, and she wasn’t the one doing it. Then she heard a man’s voice screaming, “Wake up baby, wake up baby!”
She sent her husband into the baby’s room, and as he entered the camera turned and pointed directly at him, and now the man’s voice started yelling obscenities. At that point, the husband unplugged the camera, unfortunately not realizing that in doing so he erased the log of the IP address, and any chance of tracking the hacker.
The family was using the latest Foscam IP camera. And this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. The previous August, a couple in Houston, Texas had someone hack into their Foscam camera and swear at their two year old daughter.
There was research released in 2013, which revealed that Internet connected cameras are full of security flaws and are easily hijacked by hackers. A few months after that, Foscam did release security patches for their IP cameras, and people were urged to update their software. However, further scanning by security experts showed that out of the 46,000 Foscam cameras that came up in their scan, over 40,000 of them were still vulnerable. Foscam took it a step further and emailed anyone who had registered their cameras on the Foscam website, asking them to install the patches, but many people don’t register.
It must be said that while this report addresses Foscam, they are not the only wireless camera company that has security vulnerabilities. And as if knowing a hacker can view your baby through your baby monitor isn’t scary enough, they can also steal your Wi-Fi credentials and your email, they can even attack other devices in your home that are attached to your network.
All of this isn’t meant to scare you away from using a wireless camera to monitor your baby. It’s just meant to make you aware of the need for security. If possible, don’t hook your camera up to the Internet. And make sure you register your monitor so that you can be kept up to date with any security updates that might come out. It’s also always a good idea to occasionally change your Wi-Fi and camera passwords.