Dec 20 2014

Do you know who can watch your webcam?

A new story on CNN this morning serves as a reminder for us all.
That reminder? Quite simple, really. One of the first things we should do when we get any new piece of equipment, especially one that connects to the Internet, is change the default password.

Seems simple, but you’d be amazed how often people neglect to do this. In the case of the latest news, CNN has reported on a Russian website which is broadcasting streams of numerous seemingly private webcam feeds. How are they able to do this? Because someone, once connected to the device, never changed the default username and password. And, with a little searching on the Web, you can find the user guides for almost anything. Contained within those guides? Yep, you guessed it-the default information to access it. Whether it’s your home broadband router, a home security webcam, or even a web-enabled baby camera, they all have a default means of accessing it. And you better believe that you aren’t the only one who knows those.

In this particular example, the operators of the website claim that the cameras are not hacked, and that they are doing this to call attention to the security concerns-even though by showing the web camera streams, they are also supposedly providing GPS coordinates for each of the feeds. Saying that the cameras are not hacked may be true; however, since in these thousands of cases, the operator states plainly that the camera was online and using the default access information.

Changing them is usually quite simple-many vendors include the steps as clearly spelled-out steps in their installation guides. It only takes a few minutes to make your devices far less likely to end up streaming footage on a foreign website. Failing to take the time to change things could be costly down the road.

So, once you’ve plugged in that shiny new home security camera….do you know who else can view it?