LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) - Security cameras are used by thousands of homeowners across the country to protect their homes, but what if those same cameras were broadcasting your private moments to the world?
The 22News I-Team found a website that broadcasts thousands of "private" video feeds out to the world. According to the website’s FAQ, they don’t consider themselves hackers; all of the feeds listed on their website are public, and aren’t protected by passwords.
Attorney Stephen Spelman told the I-Team, it’s completely legal. “When people pick up the stream from your home security, or business security camera, it's legal if you are not protecting it in some way,” he said.
In other words, if you don’t change the password on your security camera when you purchase it, anyone can get into your network, and use it for whatever they want.
The 22News I-Team found at least three live video feeds from western Massachusetts on the website that broadcasts private security camera streams from across the country. One of those feeds led the I-Team to the Botanic Gardens of Smith College.
The I-Team went to the Botanic Gardens, while our producer watched the website’s feed from a computer in our newsroom. Sure enough, as soon as we walked inside, we too were caught on camera, for anyone who clicked onto the website to see.
Smith College told the I-Team, they post the stream on their website to allow other people to see the Botanic Gardens, but they didn’t know their live stream was being broadcast in another location.
Smith College sent the I-Team the following statement: “The live stream offers the public an opportunity to experience the college's Botanic Garden in the event they are unable to visit our campus. We will look into whether or not an aggregation that includes our public stream violates any policies.”
Security cameras aren't the only concern. It's easy for hackers to access any device that can connect to the Internet, from laptops and cell phones, to baby monitors and drones.
Larry Snyder is the Director of Cybersecurity Programs at Bay Path University. He showed the I-Team just how easy it is for hackers to gain access to these devices. “It's not a complicated process. Anybody that has the ability to do a little bit of Google searching and can watch a YouTube video for 25 minutes or so, can probably manage any device you want,” he said.
Snyder said oftentimes, hackers will purchase a computing device to create a wireless access point that looks like public WiFi on your phone or laptop. “A raspberry pi is just a bare bones computing device, which is handheld, palm-held computing device, which basically consists of what is a motherboard with some connection devices and what it allows us to do is just about anything we want,” he said.
Once a hacker gets in, they can do anything from steal your personal information, to spy on you.
Attorney Spelman told the I-Team, that can be extremely dangerous. “It could be dangerous if they get to see what we call a "pattern of life," of when you're home and when you're not home,” he said.
There are steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim. Snyder recommends using a strong password to protect any device you own that connects to Wi-Fi. He also said logging onto public Wi-Fi could put you at risk. When you purchase a new security camera for your house, change the Wi-Fi password immediately to make sure you’re not leaving it open, and vulnerable to the public.
10 Most Common Passwords in 2016:
SOURCE: Keeper Security
Click here to generate a secure password.
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