You’ve probably heard that home security cameras are a great way to protect your home and family, but how effective are they really?
We all value our personal privacy. It’s a basic right. That’s why many of us are rightfully concerned when we see or hear of surveillance cameras going up in alarming numbers in public locations. We have to ask, “Is this for our safety or for the government to spy on us?”
Unfortunately, many of us may be unknowingly contributing to our own invasion of privacy. The use of security cameras in homes and private businesses has increased substantially in the past decade. Security cameras are affordable and they offer us the convenience of monitoring our homes from any location offering an Internet connection, whether it’s from the next room or across the country. But at the same time, if not set up properly, security cameras make it easy for others to keep an eye on our families and belongings as well.
How Secure Are Home Security Cameras?
Recently a Russian website started streaming live feeds of home security cameras and baby monitors from around the world. It included footage from more than 73,000 security camera locations in over 250 countries and included live video of bedrooms, kitchens, office buildings, even baby cribs. Your first reaction is to wonder what kind of creep would hack into so many lives and display them for the world to see.
But it’s not a hack. They simply gained access using the default usernames and passwords that came with the cameras.
The Russian site broke down the video footage by the manufacturers which included Foscam, Linksys, AvTech, Panasonic, and others. The site, which has recently been taken down, claims its purpose was “to show the importance of security settings.” That it did. The site makes the point that choosing not to change the default passwords essentially gives others a free ticket to a peep show inside your home.
Many of the video feeds showed businesses, shops, and office buildings. Yet it was disturbing how many shots of baby cribs were available on the site. Other feeds showed a woman sitting in her living room and another showed a woman sitting on the floor playing with a baby. Another was of a child playing.
The site easily amassed such a huge amount of footage because too many camera users simply use the default passwords that get the camera working, some as simple as “1234.” Many of these default passwords are provided by the manufacturers on their websites. Experts have but one bit of advice, if you have a webcam, baby monitor or home security camera, change your password now. It’s that easy.
The biggest selling point of these security cameras is also their biggest security weakness. The ability to gain remote footage over the internet is a big reason for having these cameras, but at the same time, if not set up properly, anyone and everyone else can gain access as well. The Russian website made this point clear.
How Can I Safely Use Home Security Cameras?
The message is clear. Make use of the safeguards available to you. With anything you want to keep private online, make sure you use strong passwords. Also never assume that the Internet is such a large place that your mistakes will go unnoticed. We live in a world where it is increasingly difficult to keep our private lives private. So don’t be lazy about it.
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