5 Tips to Keep Your Baby Monitor Safe From Hacking
The idea of keeping tabs on baby whether they’re near or far, sleeping or singing to themselves, is pretty appealing. But while high-tech video baby monitors definitely make checking in more convenient, security is also a big concern. You may have heard some scary news stories about monitors being hacked by total strangers, but we don’t think this is a reason to unplug. Once you’ve decided on the type of baby monitor that meets your home and family’s needs, just follow these simple tips to protect both baby and your entire family.
We know it can be fun to get the latest tech innovation before everyone else, and thrilling to find a great deal on an earlier generation product. But when it comes to baby monitors, it’s important to look beyond the latest bells and whistles or the discount price tag. Focus your search on long-standing, reputable brands that have taken the time to evolve their products with the latest tech features—while still keeping privacy and security a priority.
WiFi-enabled baby monitors are considered “smart” gadgets, which means data is continuously sent across a wireless network. Encryption is a crucial feature that scrambles this data into an unreadable code to prevent hackers from gaining access. Hardware, or physical, encryption is the gold standard because it’s housed in the device itself, protecting your streaming data in real time before it even travels over the wireless network.
It’s important to change your router’s factory-assigned password and password-protect your WiFi network, if it isn’t already. (For the best security, use the WPA/WPA2 setting; WEP is considered outdated). Opt to hide your network as well; this will prevent it from being discovered by nearby devices and make it harder to find and hack. Some hackers have lists of preset passwords and will try every one with the hope of gaining access to your device. To create a strong, unique password for your monitor, make it at least eight characters and incorporate a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. And whatever you do, don’t reuse the same password from another site. The more barriers to access you create, the more annoyed potential hackers will get and the faster they’ll (hopefully) move on to easier targets.
You might share a Netflix or HBO password (who doesn’t?), but sharing is not caring when it comes to your baby monitor. If you need to grant caregivers access to your monitor, look for one that allows viewing on an as-needed, rather than permanent, basis. Certain monitors out there allow you to add authorized users and control when they have streaming access—a great safety measure for occasional babysitters or times when your nanny is off the clock.
Tech companies often release product updates designed to improve safety or functionality. To stay in the loop, register your monitor with the manufacturer right when you get it and be sure to update any associated apps regularly, since older versions can start to malfunction and reduce the reliability of some products. It’s also a good idea to set up a Google alert for the product so you’ll get an email about recalls or other safety concerns as soon as they’re announced. Staying up to date may take a little effort, but it’s well worth it for your family’s peace of mind.