Baby-Cam Security: Is Your Child’s Privacy at Risk?
10th of February, 2016
It’s the stuff of horror movies. You’re woken up by a noise in the baby monitor, but it’s not your child. Rather, it’s the eerie voice of a stranger on the other end. Your first thought is that there is an intruder in your home. When you investigate, though, there is no one there but your (completely unaware) infant. So what did you hear?
Baby monitor hackers have become somewhat of a trend, with incidents occurring in numerous cities across North America. Hackers have been known to make noises at sleeping children that scare them––and the parent––awake. If you use a model that is hooked up to a camera, you run the risk of a hacker being capable of watching everything that goes down in your baby’s room. In this day and age, any technologically savvy user can pay your child a digital visit. Your baby monitor is often far down on the list of devices you think are most likely to be hacked, so it’s easy to forget to take the proper precautions. We’ve done some research, answering some of your most pressing questions.
How easy is it for someone to hack my baby’s monitor?
Unfortunately, it’s not very hard. If your device is set up on Wi-Fi or any other open frequency, it is just as vulnerable as any other connected device that you own. Check out this article from Fusion for the results of a privacy test on a few popular models, including iBaby, TRENDnet, Gynoii and others.
Why would someone want to hack my baby cam?
The motives of baby cam hackers are ambiguous, which in and of itself is a scary thought. Hackers could use baby cams to scout out the layout of a house before a break-in, they could be pranksters doing it for the thrill, or they could be maliciously motivated strangers hoping to sneak a peek at you or your child.
How can I protect my family?
Total Internet lockdown
Don’t be alarmed by the idea of an Internet “lockdown.” All this means is some combination of the following:
Personalize your login information rather than using the default
Secure to WPA2 and set your “approved devices”
Disable guest access
Turn your SSID (network broadcast) off
Install a firewall between your Wi-fi and your devices
Only turn on your device when you are using it
It is easier to hack a device when you have it on all day every day. When you are not using the baby monitor, like during the day or when you are out of town, turn the monitor off. If you want to be extra safe, unplug it or take out the batteries. The less amount of time that you use the device shrinks the window of opportunity for a hacker to tap in to spy on your privacy.
Use digital models
It is immensely easier to hack an analogue baby monitor. Any model that operates on your home Wi-Fi are more secure because of encryption, personalized passwords and firewalls. An analogue model, while maybe appearing more secure because it is not internet connected, relies on sending signals over radio waves, which does not have the same safeguards as your home internet connection. Switch to a digital model and avoid products that operate on an open radio frequency.
It’s a scary thought to think that someone would want to take advantage of your child or violate your privacy as a parent. Taking the time to protect yourself is the first step to combatting any potential problems. So the next time you are baby-proofing the house for your little one, make sure you are baby-proofing the invisible threats as well.
About Krystina Lau
Krystina is a Legal Studies and Sociology graduate with a passion for advocacy in international contexts.