Websites tapping into baby cams, home surveillance systems

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – There are several home security cameras in the San Diego area - broadcasting live online. An expert tells 10News, many homeowners may not even be aware of it.

“A lot of times, these cameras are not meant to be accessed by everyone. But unfortunately, because of the way they’re configured, they become open to the world,” Lance Larson said. Larson is the Associate Director of the homeland security program at San Diego State University. 

The feeds are posted on websites that work like search engines, searching for Internet-connected devices. Larson says the term used in the industry is “the internet of things.”  

The sites feature beach cameras and traffic cameras, but there are also several cameras broadcasting a feed of someone’s driveway, neighborhood or front doors.

“The internet of things is great because you really can have all these conveniences,” Larson said, “having your appliances online, so you know when your dishwasher is done or when someone rings your doorbell or knocks on your door. However, if you don’t properly secure these devices, sometimes they can fall into the wrong hands or be indexed liked of like what you see on Google or search engine for anybody to see.”

Larson says the issue comes down to passwords. A lot of people’s cameras are not professionally installed. Sometimes people set them up without setting a password or end up using the default login and password.

“These websites they know the default passwords for a particular type of camera," Larson said. "So they’ll try to use that based on the model number it detects on your camera's software."

Larson added that if you're using a home security system, you take precautions.

“Use something called multi-factor authentication,” he said. “What that means is you have two devices to gain access. For example, you have a password, and you also have an app on your phone that you have to click yes or you have to have a special code on to be able to access your camera.”

Larson says that since he’s been trying to raise awareness about the issue for several years. He says it seems the number of unprotected security cameras on the sites have dropped over the years, but there are still several that look like there are homeowners that are unwittingly broadcasting their security camera feeds.

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