Baby Cam Hacked: What You Can Do To Protect Yourself and Your Children

The story about the Texas parents who were terrified when their child’s video baby monitor was hacked struck me at first as a minor incident when viewed in the whole scheme of the world of hackers.  After all, it is a rare event, no one was hurt, no threats were overtly made, and the child herself even slept through the event.  But when I read more about it, I became increasingly bothered by the fact that I was not initially bothered by it!  I mean, is that the creepiest of all feelings, to know that a stranger is watching your kids?

Here’s the summary for those who missed the story.  Marc and Lauren Gilbert were in another room when they heard strange sounds coming from their daughter’s monitor.  When they went into her room to investigate, they realized it was a strange man’s voice coming through the monitor and saying disturbing things, even using the child’s name, which could be seen above her bed.  The child, who was born deaf and had her cochlear implants turned off, slept through the entire incident.  Gilbert immediately disconnected the device, which was hooked up to the home’s wireless Internet system.

It is believed the webcam system, Foscam wireless camera, was compromised.  In April, a study was released revealing potential vulnerabilities; in it the researchers said the camera would be susceptible to “remote Internet monitoring from anywhere in the world” and that thousands of Foscam cameras in the U.S. were vulnerable.  A glaring flaw (which has since been “fixed” by a firmware update in June) is that users were not encouraged to have strong passwords and were not prompted to change from the default admin password.  Gilbert said he did take basic security precautions, including passwords for his router and the IP cam, as well as having a firewall enabled.

For an interview with Fox and Friends, they asked me to consider the following questions.  I’d like to share my answers with you in case you missed it.

How easy is it to hack a baby monitor?

It’s probably an apt cliché to say it’s as easy as taking candy from a baby. Just like with any device, an iPhone, laptop, home Wi-Fi, it’s only as secure as you make it. If you’ve taken no steps, it’s relatively easy to hack. You don’t make the problem go away by ignoring it.

Why would someone do this?

Some do it for the challenge, some for the thrill of controlling other people’s lives, and unfortunately, others do it because they are sick individuals that want to watch what you do in the privacy of your home.

Is this one of the more scary cases of hacking a household device you’ve seen?

This one hits close to home because it takes advantage of our kids, but I’ve seen pacemakers turned off, blood pumps shut down, brakes applied in cars, and all of it done remotely by outsiders who are never even seen. If the device is connected to a network, I guarantee you it can be hacked, and in most cases, you never know the bad guys are in control.

How can we avoid this type of hacking of our personal devices, whether it’s a video baby monitor, an iPhone or a pacemaker?  

The good news is that’s it’s the same steps you probably already take on your other devices, like laptops, smartphones and iPads:

  1. Buy Digital. Only buy a digital monitor that is password protected, not an analog version that operates on an open radio frequency.
  2. Change Default Passwords. During setup, change the factory defaults on the monitor so that the password is long, strong and device specific. This case we are talking about probably had a default password in place, making it easy to hack.
  3. Firewall Your Privacy. Install a firewall between your Internet connection and ALL devices to keep the peeping Toms out. Hire a professional to set it up properly.
  4. Lock Down Wi-Fi. Make sure your Wi-Fi network is locked down properly with WPA2+ encryption and SSID masking so it can’t be hacked.
  5. Turn Devices Off. If you are not using the device, turn it off, as hackers can more easily crack devices that are up 24/7.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

5 replies
  1. Alice
    Alice says:

    OMG. I can imagine the horror on the parents’ face to find that man talking to the baby over the camera. That must be so scary.

    I was actually doing my research for the best baby monitor to buy. I was actually considering a Foscam model. But now it makes me think again

  2. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Please help, I have just heard a man voice talking to my baby through my iPad ( I use a 3G app) from my phone to monitor her. She has been waking up for weeks now for no reason and now I think I know why!
    How can I make my phone and I pad safe from this????

  3. Erin Glass
    Erin Glass says:

    My daughter has been waking up every night between 3-4am and coming into our room. She’s always been a sound sleeper, which is why we thought this tobe odd. Last night I woke up at 5am to music playing, a lullaby so I got up to investigate. Come to find out the song was coming from my daughter’s Foscam camera, this is NOT a Wifi capable camera which is making this even more odd. Plus the camera is usually positioned pointing at her bed and it was pointed at the closet which you can do by the separate monitor. We shut off the camera and when we got up this morning and turned it back on the music was stopped (of course). We asked my daughter who is almost 3 if she hears people talking to her at night and she said “yes when I sit up”, we asked does she ever hear music at night and she said “yes”. I’m freaked out, we will NEVER buy Foscam again.

  4. Annie Mullins
    Annie Mullins says:

    Thank You for this happened to a friend & her family too. Very scary..and thank God no one was hurt. It could have been much worse and the person who was our in jail over what he was doing was a 3 time fellon..convicted of child molestation. It maybe good advise to also look up on the site Who lives in your area. I do not have the site address handy. But you can Google it..and also ask your local policemen department. I think it’s a very good idea to know who also living in your neighborhood. As this person who was cought doing these bad things was a friend to families with children in my girlfriend’s neighborhood…everyone trusted him!!! No one could even believe he was that type of person who commited such crimes against other people’s children 3 times cought. But how many he had already gotten away with…I believe he got 5 years in jail this time..because the police had evidence that he had bad intentions to harm my gf child. A plan to abduct her child when she let her kids out to play…he had also been able to view inside their home..and see her breastfeeding her youngest baby..also he had control over their main digital door locks into her home…she thought at first it was a malfunction with these new digital door keys…no it was actually him controlling their entry into their own home.
    I hope to share this article with as many as I can.
    Thank You!!


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