Could your webcam be making your most intimate moments public?

Could your webcam be making your most intimate moments public?

Did you know that your webcam could be screening your footage on the Internet? If you have an unprotected webcam, anyone could be watching!

Many of us here in Singapore use webcams or security cameras to help us keep an eye on the situation at home. Being stuck at a full-time job for the majority of your day, the ability to check up on what's happening at home whenever you please definitely gives peace of mind.

However, reportedly, many of these cameras are unprotected and unsecured.

In other words, this means that your video footage can be accessed and streamed on the world wide web for anyone to see. With just a couple of clicks, anyone who wanted to could be peering into your most private space.

Who is at risk?

 As reported by AsiaOne, more than 785 cameras from around Singapore are being made accessible online. These cameras stream footage from inside shops, warehouses, and even your very own homes.

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Footage of what appears to be the living room of a house - screenshot taken by author

One website, Insecam, claims to be the world’s biggest directory of online surveillance security cameras. While the website does state that the cameras are now filtered in order to protect the privacy of individuals, we were still able to to see what looked very much like a home instead of a warehouse or restaurant.

My footage isn’t on Insecam, is my family safe?

The New Paper (TNP) has also reported that even if you aren’t unable to find your stream on Insecam, it does not mean that you are safe and that your footage is private.

From the information above, it is quite clear that unprotected webcams make you and your family extremely vulnerable. These webcams violate and destroy the privacy you once had at home.

There are special search engines that can be used to source out and locate streams of webcams that are not protected. Further, Insecams is also not the only website that streams footage from security cameras and webcams.

Associate Professor Steven Wong, President of the Association of Information Security Professionals, showed TNP how easy it was to tap into and view the footage of these unprotected webcams using these specific search engines.

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Cameras you thought were keeping you safe may be exposing your private lives

What this means is that all it takes is a little know-how, and you could be encroaching on the privacy of anyone from anywhere in the world.

Keep reading to find out how you can secure your webcam and keep your family safe!

How do I protect my family? 

What defines whether or not your camera is secured? Oftentimes, when you purchase a webcam, it comes with a default username and password. To the average person, you might think that this makes your webcam secured. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

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Default passwords are easy to crack. This means your footage is easily available on websites akin to Insecam.

You can send make a request to remove your footage from these websites. However, many people are unaware that their footage is even up and available on websites like these.

The best way to protect yourself and your family would be to change the default usernames and passwords that come with your webcam. This way, your footage can be accessed only with the username and password.

Protecting the privacy of your family

It is shocking to think that images of your children and home are being streamed freely on the Internet. Here are some tips you can follow to ensure that the identity of your children and footage of your home is kept, as intended, private.

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  • Buy your webcams from trusted manufacturers. This lowers the chance of you having your privacy breached and your footage being streamed online.
  • Change your default usernames and passwords to something that you will remember. Avoid password sequences that only include numbers or letters.
  • Create a sequence of both letters and numbers. Additionally, use a mix of upper and lowercase. More complicated passwords are harder to crack, thus, keeping you protected.

They may seem like extremely basic and simple steps, however, they will go a long way in keeping you and your family’s private lives private!

Source: AsiaOne, The New Paper

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Written by

Sonia Pasupathy

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