Baby monitors are an incredibly helpful device for parents with young children. They offer a lot of peace of mind and allow parents the ability to go about their day without being completely disconnected from a child in a separate part of the house. However, with updated technology comes the risk of compromised security and cyber invasions into your home. Whether you buy a radio frequency monitor or a smart one with two way audio and a web cam, you’ll have the ability to be a better parent.
How Do WiFi Baby Monitors Work?
WiFi baby monitors connect to your home’s router to connect the camera in your child’s room to a handheld monitor or even to your smart phone. The WiFi network can be isolated to the one in your home or it can transmit outside the home to let you keep an eye on your child even while you are out and they are being cared for by a babysitter. Some baby monitors even have extra features like nightlights, lullabies, and two way audio systems that let you soothe your little one without entering the room. The benefits of the internet connection are numerous, and the best baby monitors from brands such as Nanit and Owlet even have the ability to monitor heart rate with integrated health tracking, provide noise alerts, and offer night vision camera mode to maintain the video feed quality overnight.
Benefits and Risks of Audio/Video Baby Monitors
Having a baby monitor with a WiFi connection linked up to your home network can offer a lot of benefits to you and your baby, more so than an analog or digital model. Just like a security camera for your home, the camera in your baby’s room can let you monitor everything while your baby sleeps. Digital baby monitors that have both video and audio capabilities are the gold standard since you can see that your child is comfortable and sleeping soundly and also hear if they wake up or appear distressed in any way.
Some systems are even compatible with Alexa or are outfitted with Bluetooth to improve your connectivity and control of the system without disturbing the sleeping child. Many units that include a baby camera have are equipped with night vision so you still get a good picture overnight. While non-WiFi units can offer many of the same benefits, WiFi enabled systems can allow you to stream video footage directly to your phone, change settings, and talk to your child even when you are away from the home. Baby monitors are extremely beneficial gadgets for parents, but they do come with a couple of security risks.
One concern parents have with baby monitors is radiation emissions, but there are actually low-emission baby monitors that you can buy that use safer frequencies; these lower the risks quite a bit. If you place the monitor too close to the crib you can see some disruptions in sleep and even some health effects, so low-emission monitors are a good idea if you have a cramped space and use a radio frequency monitor. However, the World Health Organization says that emissions from WiFi enabled monitor are negligible if they exist at all, so that’s another benefit of choosing a smart monitor that can connect to a wireless router. The other main risk is baby monitor hacking which we’ll explore below, and this concern is most valid for units connected to WiFi. Despite the risk, the benefits of real-time monitoring for your child make these products more than worth it for most parents.
Can Hackers Gain Access To A WiFi Baby Monitor?
Hackers can indeed gain access to your baby monitoring system when it is connected to a home WiFi network. The models with the most vulnerabilities are the ones that allow you to access the system from anywhere outside the house. Since it needs to connect to the general internet to send the information to your device rather than just connected on your home network via your WiFi router, it is more vulnerable to attack by hackers. However, there are measures you can take to protect each type of monitoring system from hackers.
How To Make Smart Baby Monitors Safer
Hacking is one of the only ways that a smart baby monitor can leave you and your child vulnerable since the WiFi signal leaves it vulnerable. While it is a fairly rare occurrence, it happens enough that you should be taking every precaution you can to maintain your privacy and the integrity of your monitoring system. Here are some of the most important things to do to keep things safe.
Maintain Firmware and Software Updates
Ensuring you have up to date firmware and software in both your camera and router is essential. Out of date technology is easier to hack since the people targeting you have had more time to learn the technology and the ways around it. Ensuring your systems are always up to date guarantees that hackers will have a more difficult time accessing the communications between the camera and the handheld unit or smart phone.
Choose Strong Passwords and Use Two-Factor Authentication
Default passwords should never be used for baby monitoring systems, and preferably not for your actual WiFi network either. Choosing strong passwords that contain numbers, letters, and even symbols makes it much harder for hackers to gain access to your network. Using two factor authentication as a backup for a strong password makes it nearly impossible for a hacker to access your system by logging in.
Disable Remote Access to the Camera
Disabling remote access to the camera is another highly recommend strategy to deter hackers. When you limit viewing access to only devices connected to your home internet, you make it a lot harder for hackers to sneak into the system. When you allow the footage to be accessible on any network, the information is a lot more vulnerable and can be intercepted by a hacker anywhere in the world.