Video baby monitors are among the most sought-after parenting gadgets, but they can also leave you and your infant vulnerable to creepy hackers.
One Indianapolis family found this out the hard way recently when their video monitoring system was invaded by a possible serial hacker. Jared Denman says his wife was playing with their 2-year-old daughter when music started coming from their monitor. It was Every Breath You Take by The Police, and Denman assumed someone else in the home was playing a joke.
Next thing they knew, the music faded to the background, and someone began making “sexual noises” into the monitor. The family was understandably horrified and did a search online to see if anyone else had dealt with a similar violation. As it turns out, several people have.
Denman found video after video of similar hacks with the same music playing in the background, and the videos were not uploaded by concerned parents. They were actually uploaded by the hacker himself, and some of them appear to show families that don’t even know they’re being hacked. The likely culprit also has a Twitter account, where he brags about his disgusting crimes.
It may seem shocking, but things like this actually happen all the time. Video monitors are extremely vulnerable to hackers, and most people don’t realize they’re at risk. There are no hard-and-fast statistics on how many people have been victimized, but the stories are piling up in the news, and a report by Forbes last year estimated 40,000 baby monitors were unsecured — and that was just one brand.
Luckily it’s as easy to thwart hackers as it is to invite them. Sileo, a company devoted to protecting people from identity theft, online fraud and other privacy invasions, says keeping your baby monitor safe is as easy as changing the password. Video monitors come with a factory default user ID and password that are usually easily distinguishable by hackers. By simply creating a new, stronger password, you can make it more difficult for criminals to access your monitor.
Other steps you can take include installing a firewall in your Internet connection, locking down your home Wi-Fi network and turning the device off whenever you aren’t using it. According to Sileo’s experts, devices that are always turned on are easier for hackers to access.
There are some sick and strange people in the world, but you can protect your family as long as you remain vigilant. Let the Denmans’ story be a lesson to us all, and let’s hope these gross hackers get shut down as soon as possible.