What The Tech: hackable security

What the Tech

WHATTHETECH— Security cameras are great because we can watch what’s happening at home on our smartphone from anywhere. But a report from a consumer watchdog group in the UK found some of the most popular cameras for sale on Amazon could let anyone watch what’s going on, from their phone.

The investigation by the consumer review team at “Which?” discovered a number of cameras promoted by Amazon put consumer privacy at risk by making it easy for anyone to watch and even control the cameras.

One camera, brand name Victure, is mentioned in the report. It’s just $35.99 and has a 4.5 star rating. But looking at some of the 1-star reviews, one stated someone spied on them and “talked through the camera and turned the camera on at will”. The cameras mentioned are manufactured in China, are brands you’ve probably never heard of, and they’re some of the most inexpensive cameras in the Amazon store. How does this happen? One thing to blame is weak default usernames and passwords. These are often just “username” or “admin”, and “password”.

When someone installs any security camera and does not change the default login information, they’re making themselves vulnerable to hackers. Default login information for most any connected device can be found easily on the internet. Armed with that and a camera’s IP address, the camera can be viewed and controlled through its app.

Online there are hundreds of hacked security cameras streaming live. Monday evening I found video streaming live from a camera on someone’s front door in Longmont, Colorado and the backporch of a home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Others have been recorded and uploaded to YouTube showing people in their home with no idea someone’s watching from their security camera or webcam. When buying a security camera, choose from brands you know and have heard of. Don’t just read the positive reviews, look at the one and two-star reviews.

No matter what brand camera, wifi router or any device that connects to your internet, change the default username and password that comes with it.

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