Wireless surveillance cameras, webcams and baby monitors allow users to stream video on the web anytime from anywhere so they can always keep tabs on their valuables. Their blinking lights signal security, but NBC 4 New York's I-Team has found thousands of seemingly secure feeds -- on everything from cribs to a pet’s litter box -- are making their way online for all to see.
A hacker from Russia broke into over 70,000 cameras from more than 200 countries, including the United States, and posted the live feeds on his website.
Some of the nation’s most popular brands of video streams were among the most hacked. The hacker, whose identity is unknown, lists each feed along with the IP address and the default password. ADMIN and 1234 are the most popular, according to the site.
Cyber expert Adam Wandt said the hacker exploited what many camera owners forget to do: change their password.
"Just by changing the default password, you give yourself another layer of security," said Wandt.
The I-Team found hundreds of unsecure cameras in the tri-state streaming live video. Until passwords are changed, Wandt worries the streams could lure robbers and other predators. One hacked feed, for example, showed a child appearing to be playing on a tablet past his bedtime.
The IP addresses for another, placed next to a company logo, traced right back to an address in lower Manhattan, a kickboxing gym.
“It’s not a good feeling,” said Amanda Cajen, the manager of ilovekickboxing.com, after being shown how their security feed could be accessed by anyone.
“Knowing that someone can hack into a password-safe security camera is a little unnerving,” said Cajen as she watched the video.
The hacker said the site is meant to raise awareness of security loopholes. In an email to NBC 4 New York, he wrote, “I am glad to point users into a large security problem. But there are still millions of insecure cameras in the world.”
Wandt cautioned, "A cyber criminal could really learn a lot about one of their targets and learn proprietary information they wouldn’t have learned any other way."