How to prevent your baby monitor from getting hacked

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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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