Hackers Spying On You with Your WebCam
Shocking – hackers are spying on you through your own webcam and they are sharing the live footage online for all to see.
Last week, I sat at my computer and watched a young man from Hong Kong relaxing on his laptop; an Israeli woman tidying the changing room in a clothes store; and an elderly woman in the UK watching TV.
All of these people were completely unaware that I was spying on them, thousands of miles away, through devices that were inadvertently broadcasting their private lives on the internet.
I found them on a website that claims to have the direct feeds of hundreds of thousands of private cameras. There are 152 countries to choose from listed on the site, as diverse as Thailand, Sudan, and the Netherlands. The UK has 1,764 systems listed. The US has 8,532.
This particular website exposes IP cameras. These are external devices typically bought to keep an eye on valuables, act as a baby monitor, or make up a home or business security system. Some of these devices come with a default password that many users do not change, which is how this site is able to access them.
It’s all in the name of raising awareness about computer security, the site’s creator claims (never mind the fact that the site has ads). “This site has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings,” the page states.
—This Website Streams Camera Footage from Users Who Didn’t Change Their Password | October 31, 2014 | Joseph Cox
In the past there have been some incidents of computer hacking to seize control of built-in webcams.
That process is called ‘ratting’, as the hackers send out a virus that allows them access to a person’s desktop computer or laptop without their knowledge.
But we discovered that the hacking of stand-alone security cameras – IP (Internet Protocol) cameras – is a much simpler process and more widespread. Most cameras that connect to the internet come with a default username and password which most people do not realise they can – and must – change.
If owners fail to do so, their live feed, which they can access from smartphones, could also be picked up by hackers who scan addresses on the internet until they find an exposed IP camera. Experts fear large numbers of such cameras are vulnerable to hacking.
How to Protect Your Camera & Your Privacy
1. Ensure the camera you buy allows you to change the default password.
2. If manual doesn’t explain how to do this, call manufacturer and get clear guidance.
3. Take time to set up a strong password and change it regularly.
—How ‘home hackers’ spy on you and your children… with YOUR webcam: | dailymail.co.uk | October 31, 2014