How to prevent your baby monitor from getting hacked

How to prevent your baby monitor from getting hacked

When I heard the news of an innocent child’s room getting infiltrated by a digital stranger, I was worried. Disgusted. Disturbed.

Although reports about baby monitors getting hacked are certainly not new, the event in this little girl’s room seemed different somehow. More real and more personal.

I know most of my families have monitoring systems in their children’s rooms. They use this technology for monitoring safety, sleep habits, quiet play, or simply for piece of mind. And for the vast majority of my families, baby monitors allow them to accomplish all of these things easily and safely.

The reality is these hacking events are rare, and often simply for sport. Hackers love a chance to take advantage of a week home network and see what trouble they can muster for fun and games. Most victims are simply innocent targets of these pranks, regardless of how personal they may feel.

In addition, these breeches of  security seem to be specific to the device itself. Recently, for example, the security camera in question was already known to have a flaw in its programming that would allow this type of hack to occur. And, the camera may have been being used with a default password.

For those of us who have child monitors in our home, the good news is there are some simple precautions we can take to keep our system safer.

  1. Be a vigilant consumer, but recognize limitations. Preventing security breeches in your home is never absolute. Common sense dictates that hacks are a risk when using any type of technological system.
  2. Most experts recommend a digital versus an analog system. Systems that work on your home Wi-Fi network are likely most secure, however, they can carry a heavy price tag. For an explanation of the detailed differences and buying recommendations, Consumer Reports has a great review.
  3. If you use a Wi-Fi camera, find the highest encryption your Wi-Fi network will allow and use it. This may include defining specific devices that can access your network (using IP addresses) and creating long, strong passwords that are not easy to figure out.

And possibly most important of all? If the worry about your baby monitor’s security is keeping you up at night, consider the most secure option of all.

Just unplug.

Natasha Burgert is a pediatrician who blogs at KC Kids Doc.

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  • Anthony D

    “Although reports about baby monitors getting hacked are certainly not new, the event in this little girl’s room seemed different somehow. More real and more personal.”

    Oh God, its never ending with these hackers. They even go a far as being pedophiles!!! What sickos!!!

  • Guest

    My neighbors have an HP wireless printer, which by default broadcasts its SID and which still had the well-known default password. I could see it whenever I was out on my back porch with my netbook, and could conceivably have gotten into their home network, complete with their networked security cameras, thermostat and DVR that way. I could also have captured whatever they were sending to their printer, which given that it was tax time and there was a better than even chance their income details and SS numbers would be printed at some point, wouldn’t have been nice.

    As it was, I mentioned it to them next time I ran into them, and gave them a demonstration of their vulnerability by sending from my porch a document to their printer telling them how to better secure their network. It isn’t that technically difficult to secure a home network, but most people don’t even think of it until/unless their network’s vulnerabilities become made known to them one way or another.

    In the MIT magazine Technology Review last week, there was an article titled “More Connected Homes, More Problems” — “As we connect more and more devices to the Internet, everything from the
    thermostat to the toilet to the front door itself may create a
    potential new opening for electronic intruders”. I recommend reading that before you connect any more devices to your home network.

  • Sacramento

    Years ago I could hear another family’s conversations through the speaker in my electronic doorbell. I live in a single family home. The family never knew I could hear everything they were saying and I never knew who they were.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    You’ve been fooled again! That is not a baby monitor. It is a small but super intelligent evil robot from the 1950s come back to take over the world.