What the Tech: Snoopy and scary home cameras

Consumer technology reporter Jamey Tucker looks at how a few simple steps can protect your home and your family
Consumer technology reporter Jamey Tucker looks at how a few simple steps can protect your home and your family
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 12:29 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The most important device in your home is also a device you never touch, and probably never see. Wi-Fi routers connect every other device in your home to the internet including phones, computers, and security cameras. If the router is hacked, the bad guys can control everything that’s connected to it.

We tested it out and were able to see someone’s backyard swimming pool. No one was home at the time, but when they go for a swim, anyone in the world can watch them. And they have no idea. If you have any cameras around your house, you might be being watched right now.

There are websites with links to thousands of unsecured web cameras around the world. Livestreams of someone’s backyard. We saw one from someone’s security camera at the front door, even one of someone’s bedroom. All live 24 hours a day captured by the homeowner’s private security cameras.

Security cameras from the big brands have lots of security to prevent this. Cheap, foreign knockoff cameras do not. But even those secure big brand cameras are susceptible to peeping toms unless you take a few steps to protect yourself.

Change your username and password

Cameras come with passwords and logins and if you haven’t changed it right out of the box, someone who knows what they’re doing can find the login credentials and log in. The Wi-Fi routers those cameras are connected to are a bigger risk. They have default user names and passwords. Often, it’s “admin” and “password.” Those default logins are easily found with an internet search.

We’ve all seen scary videos of strangers talking to children through security cameras. It happens, and for a hacker who knows what they’re doing, it’s easy if you haven’t changed usernames and passwords.

Check your routers

Download the app and change the login credentials that it came with. And every few months, unplug the router for about 10 seconds and plug it back in. This will install any security updates and will likely speed things up for all the devices connected to it.

The FBI issued a warning that hackers, working for China, actively use malware to access home and small business wi-fi routers. The agency urges everyone to update their router to the latest software to install security patches.

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