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Hackers could be using smart baby monitors to spy on your children and home, security experts warn

If you have a baby monitor that connects to the web, cybercriminals could potentially hack into the camera's feed

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued a warning to parents after reports suggest hackers are spying on – and even talking to – children through smart baby monitors. 

 If you have a baby monitor that connects to the web but haven’t changed your default password, or you don’t keep the software and firmware on the device up to date, cybercriminals could potentially hack into the camera’s feed.

Beyond spying on you and your children, which is a terrifying thought in itself, such access could also be used by criminals to assist with burglaries as the live feeds will reveal whether or not you’re home.  

The announcement was made in partnership with consumer group Which? and the two organisations are encouraging people to change their smart camera’s default password via their camera’s accompanying phone or tablet app. 

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Users should also keep their cameras secure by regularly updating their security software. These updates are typically rolled-out automatically but you can check whether you have the most up-to-date version by going to the Settings or About page on the connected app. 

Each app will work slightly differently and if you’re unsure, it should be detailed in your camera’s handbook, online or via the manufacturer’s support pages. 

How to keep your smart baby monitor safe from hackers

1. Go to the Settings screen on the smart camera’s app and change the default password. If you don’t know if you still have a default password, but you’ve never accessed this screen before, chances are the password needs changing. By default, many providers simply making the password “admin” or “password” so you’ll need to change this to something unique
2. Update the camera’s software/firmware and check for updates regularly
3. Disable any smart features, like being able to check the cameras remotely, if you don’t use or need them. If you don’t know how to disable individual features, simply disconnecting the camera from your Wi-Fi network should suffice. 

Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy, said: “Mandatory security requirements and strong enforcement that ensures manufacturers, retailers and online marketplaces are held accountable for selling unsecured products is essential.

“Until new laws are in place, it is vital that consumers research smart device purchases carefully, and follow guidance to ensure their devices are protected by strong passwords and receiving regular security updates to reduce the risk of hackers exploiting vulnerabilities,” she added.”