Consumer Alert: Baby Monitor Hacking - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Consumer Alert: Baby Monitor Hacking

Hackers can get into your baby monitoring system if your security isn't strong enough. (Source: WOIO) Hackers can get into your baby monitoring system if your security isn't strong enough. (Source: WOIO)
(WOIO) - We've told you before about people hacking into video cameras in your home, including baby monitors. But the story that one family has to tell goes way beyond that with the hacker actually reaching out to them.

Just another Monday for nanny, Ashley Stanley, is usually all about cute and cuddly.

"While I was changing her, it was a pretty big number two," she says.

That's when she heard the voice. She says it sounded like somebody talking to her through the camera used to monitor baby Sammy.

She thought it was a joke.

"Is there, like, a toy on or something? 'Cause that is creeping me out," she wondered.

Then the voice said, "That's a really poopy diaper." And that's when the panic set in.

"I was kinda really freaked out, like maybe someone hacked into the camera. He said something else, like 'you should probably password protect your camera,'" she said.

Ashley immediately called Sammy's mom and dad, who both confirmed they had not been playing a joke on her. So she unplugged the camera.

The family and the nanny thought that the system was set up to allow viewing only on the mobile app, which had been connected to their home network.

It seems that was not the case.

The maker of the camera is Foscam. The company has an extensive list for users on its website to make sure their new systems are installed correctly and safely. The biggest thing the company emphasizes is making sure to set new and unusual user names and passwords; something this family had thought they had done.

What happened seemed like a harmless prank.

"What pervert has been watching and not said anything? That is the kind of person that I am afraid of. Like, who has been watching silently?" asked Ashley.

Parents should be sure they have the most up-to-date firmware for their monitors.

"Think of firmware as software. It's a set of instructions that make a device operate, and it's regularly updated," says Bryan Lagarde, security camera expert and director of projectNOLA, the largest crime camera system in the country.

"If you have a company that makes baby monitors and they get complaints about security hacks, they will make fixes. But you need to have the latest version to have the most updated protection." 

Lagarde says parents should check that their firmware is updated, even when they first buy the monitor, since it could have been sitting on a shelf for a year before it was purchased. 

"Once you've confirmed your firmware and password, consider where you plan to keep the monitor," Lagarde says. "Whenever you have something like that in your house, it can be hacked, so use common sense," he says. "If your baby sleeps in your room and you always leave the camera on, hackers can see or hear everything going on in your room. When the camera isn't in use, unplug it to help ensure your own privacy."

Find more tips on securing your baby monitors here.

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