Could the monitors we as parents use to keep tabs on our children playing or sleeping in other rooms of the home be used to eavesdrop in reverse? That is exactly what happened to a family in Houston, TX who were surprised by an unfamiliar voice screaming obscenities out of the child monitor in the room with their resting 2-year old; and it most certainly was not the voice of the sleeping babe. The creepy voice coming from the monitor (also equipped with a camera) was at first yelling at the child but then turned its attention to the parents once they entered the room. Clearly, a snooping cybercriminal had hacked into the monitor signals.
We’ve previously talked about hackers using your smartphone to spy on you, even controlling your television to look in on you as you watch your shows, and now a baby monitor has been added to the list of items that can be manipulated for malicious purposes. It seems that hackers are finding a number of ways into your home, be it through your mobile phone, home computer or your Internet-connected SmartTV. But how are they getting in? In this case, both an unsecured device and Wi-Fi signal could play a significant role in the breach.
Any number of modern child monitoring systems connect over Wi-Fi, incorporating both audio and video feeds to keep tabs on our most valued treasures, using wireless Internet signals to link devices throughout your home. Most Wi-Fi devices require a password to connect to the Internet but in order to make them easily accessible during setup, manufacturers will often set a default password. Default passcodes are generally used on any number of electronic devices that have software set up to be password-protected, and are quite vulnerable. Some can even be found in the Support section of the product website.
Even though Wi-Fi devices have the option to change your password during setup, a lot of us don’t change this and that is how we expose ourselves to hackers. An unsecured Wi-Fi connection gives hackers access to any device—mobile phone, television, computer, and more—that connects to it. Along with setting new passwords, there are a number of steps you can take to protect any device in your home connecting over Wi-Fi from becoming a portal for hackers looking to get in.
- Password protect your Wi-Fi connection. This is the first and most crucial step rather than using the default password. Visit www.mcafee.com/wireless for additional ways to protect your signal and consider these options to further protect your Wi-Fi devices:
- Use strong passwords to protect your device. Passwords that use multiple variants including upper and lower case letters, numerals and special characters such as @, # and $ increase the security of your passcode. Also avoid codes that use your name, children’s names, email or home address, or other publicly available personal information.
- Regularly change and update passcodes. Keep your passwords fresh and you’re more likely to keep hackers off of your devices and your Wi-Fi.
- Consistently install updates to products that use Wi-Fi. Keep your product software up to date and you’ll keep yourself safe from cyber thieves.
Don’t let your Wi-Fi video/audio devices eavesdrop on you. Stay on top of the latest security threats to your home and Internet-connected devices by following us on Twitter @McAfeeConsumer and Facebook.