Privacy is such a hot issue these days with NSA intelligence leaks involving Edward Snowden to crimes committed using social media. There is another reason why people should keep security networks always updated. A stranger was able to hack a baby monitor to spy on a 2-year-old child in Texas.
Based on a report from Forbes, the baby monitor used by the Gilberts was probably a Foscam wireless camera. Its top feature enables users to have "remote Internet monitoring from anywhere in the world". The Foscam wireless camera has a known firmware vulnerability or a technical glitch which can be exploited by expert hackers. Those who have the same device can update its firmware since it has been recently released to address the glitch.
Dave Chronister from the Parameter Security and Hacker University said many people believe that hackers will only victimise people they know. He said there are hackers who are looking for ways to exploit their targets and take advantage of a certain technology's vulnerability as in the case of the Foscam wireless camera.
Mr Chronister warns that any device can be exploited by hackers if connected to a vulnerable Wi-Fi system at home. He gave some tips on how to secure a home network:
1. Make sure your network is password-protected. Use alpha-numeric characters but choose a password that is not common knowledge to anyone you know.
2. Change the default password if your Internet service provider installed your Wi-Fi. Make the password at least 10 to 15 characters. A shorter password is easier for hackers to crack.
3. Change passwords often. If a hacker has been working on your password for a time, he or she will have to start over once you change it again. It may be an inconvenience to keep on changing passwords, but it's better than having some stranger hack your baby monitor and talk to your kids.
4. Check Wi-Fi settings on the kind of encryption used. If the default setting is at WEP, change it to WPA or WPA2.
Like a high-tech suspense thriller movie, two parents in Texas said they woke up to the sound of a stranger's voice coming from the room of their daughter who was only 2 years old.
The father, Marc Gilbert, said when he heard the voice, he thought someone had broken into their house and went insider his daughter's room. As Mr. Gilbert rushed to the room, he heard a voice say, "Wake up Allyson, you little [*****]". The camera attached to the baby monitor turned to watch Mr Gilbert walk inside the room as he hurriedly unplugged the device.
Mr Gilbert said daughter Allyson had difficulty hearing and was more likely asleep when the stranger's voice was heard from the baby monitor. Despite Allyson not hearing anything, the Gilberts were horrified about the incident.
According to the Gilberts in an interview on ABC, they don't want to turn on the baby monitor again. Mr. Gilbert said they are choosing to go without a baby monitor from now on.
Strangers hacking into computer webcams are nothing new. Hacking into electronic devices with cameras is considered illegal and best known as "ratting". However, this incident involving baby monitors is something parents with babies and young children should be really concerned about. It is important to ensure the security of a home network especially if there are computers, laptops and baby monitors with wireless cameras around the house.