If your baby monitor is connected to the internet then it risks being taken over by hackers, security experts have warned parents.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found vulnerabilities in existing baby monitors that would allow would-be attackers to obtain audio from the device, or to change information about the position and temperature of a child in their bedroom.
A spokesperson said: “Poorly secured devices can threaten individuals’ privacy, compromise their network security, their personal safety and could be exploited as part of large-scale cyberattacks.”
As a result, the NCSC issued new guidance calling on manufacturers to ensure devices sold to parents in the UK are safe. But what extra precautions can parents take?
In 2014, thousands of baby monitors were hacked and the footage broadcast on a Russian website. This footage allowed users to see inside people’s homes and even into babies’ rooms. One feed showed a child’s bedroom in Birmingham.
Three years later, there are millions more internet-connected devices in use across Britain, but security continues to be an issue. So what can parents actually do about it?
Consumer watchdog Which? tested three baby monitors for security issues: the Motorola MBP853 Connect, the MiniLand Everywhere IP and the Luvion Supreme Connect with Wi-Fi bridge.
It tested the three devices for vulnerabilities, including unencrypted data, unsecured ports and expired security certificates. The team also ran some basic tests to assess the security of admin logins and any password prompts.
While it was not able to get into any of the three cameras, Which? has suggested ways parents can give themselves greater peace of mind.
How Can I Keep My Baby’s Monitor Protected?
As with all internet-connected devices, make sure you change the default settings and passwords, Which? says, choosing strong passwords that aren’t repeats of passwords you use elsewhere. “While a password is never 100% bulletproof to hacking attacks, it means that your camera isn’t low hanging fruit for the bottom feeders that trawl the internet,” the watchdog adds.
This also means changing the password provided with your monitor, Which? remind parents. “Too many cameras are shipped out with generic passwords. This means hackers searching for open cameras don’t need to think too hard to gain access to the camera.”
You should also check for any security software updates regularly and make sure you remember to install them – including on your router or modem.
Turn off remote access if you don’t need it and, of course, switch the device off when you’re not using it. “Don’t leave it open as a little eye in the room. If you don’t want to switch if off, put a piece of tape over the camera. You don’t have to worry, just don’t leave yourself vulnerable.”
And if you’re using your smartphone app as a baby monitor, check the security settings and set a new password if you can.