By now we've all heard the creepy story about the family in Houston whose baby monitor was hacked. Texas daddy Marc Gilbert awoke one night after hearing a stranger's voice coming from his daughter's room only to find out that a stalker had hacked into their daughter's baby monitor and was making obscene comments at their little girl, Allyson. Fortunately enough, she didn't hear a thing.
For parents, it's completely unnerving that something which is supposed to help parents keep a watchful eye over their babies could become a way for crazies to see inside private places in our homes.
My husband and I own the Foscam, which is the same camera owned by the family in Houston. I can easily use the app on my iPhone to see a live feed of what's going on at home. Super techy and cool, right? Well, yes, especially when I miss the kids and want to catch a glimpse of them playing. But what happened in Houston is an important reminder for parents that ANYTHING connected to the internet has the possibility of being hacked. There needs to be more education on this topic so that parents can not only shop smarter, but also understand what they can do to decrease the risk of a security breach.
Here are some tips on how to make your camera as hack-proof as possible:
Change the default user names and password. Leaving the default user name (usually "admin") or choosing overly generic passwords make life really easy for a hacker — and most of us are guilty of this. But creating a password that isn't just one word (like a date or a name) and adding numerals and symbols is one way to make your password stronger. Keeping your family safe online is not a responsibility that ends when you purchase the right gear, so make it a habit to change the password of your home networks every few months.
Check for updates. Lots of tech jargon here but Foscam supposedly admitted to a security issue with their products and issued an emergency fix to the firmware a few months ago. The moral of the story? Don't depend on your provider to automatically update your gear. Check in with the manufacturer of your camera and stay on top of updates so that you can make them right away. If you don't have time to keep with the updates on your own time, use your internet powers! Set up Google News Alerts for your gear (you can set up alerts for anything involving 'security', 'hacking' or 'updates'). Often times security companies publish potential problems long before the crazies do bad things.
Protect your home network. A hacker's number one goal is to 'see' (literally) what kind of stuff you have plugged into your home network and they look for easy targets. All Internet traffic to and from your home usually travels through one point: your router or broadband modem (the blinking light thing that your internet provider set up). Don't trust a router that you don't know anything about or can't log into and update the settings. There are dozens of great resources and videos online (search for things like "secure home network"), that detail a handful of easy steps required to protect your family and your families data.
Seek out the help of an expert. If you aren't especially techy or just have no idea what you're doing, hire a home security expert who can help you navigate the setup of your camera. This is your family's safety we're talking about, so it's not the place to take any chances!
Baby monitors aren't something to be afraid of. Do your research and educate yourself on the safest way to use these cameras and everyone will sleep a little easier.
How did you and your partner decide on which gear to buy?