Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Baby Monitor Hacker Creeps

Yesterday Good Morning America asked for my expertise on the safety of baby monitors.

A couple in Texas had their baby monitor hacked by a creep who was watching their sleeping two year old and talking to her using lewd language. Luckily, the child is deaf and did not know of the creep's attempts to get her attention. The parents overheard the adult male's voice and ran to her room, to hear it first hand. After ripping the baby monitor from the wall, they decided to go public with their story.

As some of you may know, I am a grandmother. When my son and daughter-in-law decided to install internet-capable baby monitors, I freaked. I understood the desire/need to be able to check on the baby while they are sleeping or in their room, but I also knew far too much about security breaches that could allow creeps to view my grandbaby.

I have a team of security professionals. So, my grandchild has as secure access as possible. But nothing attached to the Internet is fully secure. There are benefits of using a baby monitor - including your being able to make sure your child is safe. But if sloppy installation or careless use puts them at risk, you have defeated the reason for using one.

For those of you who have kids or grandkids and want to be able to monitor them using internet-capable devices make sure you check the following:

  • For wifi devices (those which don't need a computer to access the Internet), make sure they have security enabled, along with strong passwords (easy to remember, but hard to guess). Some allow for direct router authentication, when you push a button on both the router and the device to pair them securely. 
  • For computer tethered devices (those that work through a computer connection to the Internet), make sure the computer itself is secure, all access points to and from the computer are protected with strong passwords and additional authentication, if possible.
  • For cellphone apps, make sure they offer security, promise to keep your personal information secure and you keep the cellphone access secure through the use of passwords. (When losing your cellphone or trading it in, make sure that all apps are removed and access revoked, as well as hard resets done to remove data.
  • When firing people, or ending relationships, make sure all passwords and access are changed and they no longer have access to your monitoring devices.
  • See if your device provider offers the ability to check who has accessed the device stream and when. If they do, use it and use it often.
  • Lock your computers when not in use and make sure that passwords are required to login.