Can Baby Monitors Be Hacked?

by Monique Labelle
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Every parent’s strongest instinct is to protect their child. Baby monitors purchased on Amazon or from in-store retailers are one of the best ways to keep an eye and ear on your child when in a separate room. However, baby monitors themselves are vulnerable to attacks by hackers, which compromises the security of your monitor and can leave you feeling very unsettled. Some baby monitors have more vulnerabilities than others, but there are ways to protect yourself from hacking as well. Let’s get into it.

 

Who Would Want To Hack A Baby Monitor?

Baby monitor hacking is a fairly rare occurrence, but there are enough baby monitor hack horror stories out there that you still need to protect yourself and take precautions accordingly. It may surprise you that there are even people who WANT to hack baby monitors in their spare time, but they are just as useful as other electronic devices in the home for invading your privacy. It seems crazy to think about, but there are three main groups of people who would have a reason to hack a baby monitor.

  1. Criminals. Baby monitors are an excellent way for burglars to check if anyone is at home. Especially if you have additional cameras set up in other rooms of the house and not only at the baby’s crib, a robber would be able to get a feel for your routine and know when the house is empty and vulnerable to theft.
  2. Troublemakers/Pranksters. On a less serious note, you may have pranksters hacking your baby monitor to cause a disturbance in the home. Most often this will take the form of them using a talk-back option on the monitor to scare your child or wake them up in the middle of the night and interrupt your sleep. While still very creepy and disturbing, these people are not as much of a threat to your family or home.
  3. Voyeurs. The final group of people that may wish to hack a baby monitor are voyeurs. These people like to watch families go about their daily life as if it were their own private reality show. This group of people will be the most subtle in their attempts, and the hardest to identify.

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How Is A Baby Monitor Vulnerable to Hackers?

Every type of baby monitor is vulnerable in some way to being hacked, no matter their sophistication. Walkie-talkie type monitors all the way up to multi-camera and two way audio systems can be hacked. Models with cameras and ones that are connected to a home network will be more vulnerable, but there are also more things you can do to protect yourself on more upscale systems. Let’s dive into the security risks associated with each type of connected device.

 

Risks Associated With Radio Baby Monitors

Modern radio monitors are the safest type of baby monitor, and this is due largely in part to their inability to connect and be accessible by a wifi network. Since their frequencies are only accessible within a certain distance, a hacker would need to be close by in the vicinity to access the transmissions. Plus, since every monitor can be set to a different frequency, that is an extra piece of information that a hacker would need to know in order to gain access to the communications. Furthermore, most current baby monitors that use radio frequencies employ encrypted channels. Since it is highly unlikely for a hacker to correctly guess the frequency, bypass the security measures, AND to put themselves at risk by being nearby in the vicinity, radio baby monitors are the least likely to be hacked.

 

Risks Associated With WiFi Baby Monitors/Digital Baby Monitors

Most internet-connected baby monitors will also be video-compatible. This opens up two new vulnerabilities in the system that hackers can potentially take advantage of. Internet of Things (IoT) models in particular come with the most risks; since they send video footage to your phone over wifi, the signal is more vulnerable than if it stayed in a closed system.

Baby monitors that are only connected to your home network will be safer than ones that allow you to access footage when you are away from home. This is because a hacker would need to be able to gain access to your home internet connection; if they can’t gain access to your router, they can’t gain access to your monitor, and there are a number of protections in place on your router to prevent that unauthorised traffic. Cybersecurity measures are always in place, and there are some you can implement yourself to add extra layers of protection. When your cameras are all wired into one system that is only accessible in one way, you severely limit a hacker’s options.

When you start allowing your security cameras and baby monitoring system to be accessible when you are away from the home, baby monitor security takes a nosedive. IoT devices of this kind are extremely vulnerable to hacking since they stream information over the internet. Think about it this way: if you can access your footage from anywhere, so can someone else. The security issues that come into play with these sophisticated, remote-access systems can be combated, but you need to be aware of the risks before deciding on a monitoring system of this kind.

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Ways To Protect Your Baby Monitor From Hackers

Whether you have a baby monitor that uses radio frequencies, a smart baby monitor that connects only to your home wifi network, or one that can stream information over the internet to any location in the world, there are ways that you can protect the audio and video feed from hackers.

Change the Radio Frequency Regularly

If you use a simpler baby monitor that uses radio frequencies to transmit audio between units, you are already using a very secure system. However, one thing you can do to dissuade hackers even more is to change the radio frequency you’re using fairly regularly. This way, even if a hacker was able to access the communications between units, you’ll be able to deny the hacker access as soon as you change the frequency you use. This is an excellent precautionary measure to employ.

Keep Up With Router and Camera Firmware/Software Updates

Ensuring all of the software and firmware in your camera and router are up to date ensures that you’ll always have maximum security protection. Analog and wifi systems are the most vulnerable to attack, but ensuring everything is always up to date will elevate the level of protection that your audio and video baby monitor systems will have.

Use a Strong Password Instead of Default Passwords For WiFi

When you set up your wifi system, it is quite typical to make the wifi password something that is fairly simple and easy to remember. However, this also makes it easier for a hacker to gain access to your home internet system and therefore every device connected to the wifi, including your baby monitor. Taking the extra step to choose a strong, complex password will help protect your home and your child.

Change the Monitor’s Default Login

Almost all baby monitor’s will come with a default login system that will allow you to access your settings right away and set up the monitoring system. However, leaving this default login in place will not be a very secure system. Changing the default settings with a personalised and hard to guess username and password will make it harder for potential hackers to gain access to the system through that route.

Avoid Remote Access Capability If You Can

Remote access to your router and webcam system should be disabled at all times if you can manage that. While you may need to enable these systems occasionally, you should keep yourself protected by limiting access again as soon as you can. This will prevent hackers from being able to target you from anywhere.

Keep An Eye On Access History For Strange Times or IP Addresses

One of the best things that you can do to protect your baby monitoring system from hackers is to keep an eye on the access history. Logs are kept to track when the system is accessed, and if you notice and unfamiliar IP addresses or strange access times, such as when you are asleep or out with your child, you’ll know that someone is gaining access to the system and you can take steps to further improve your security and your privacy.

Buy Monitors With Built In Security Features

Many wifi connected baby monitors will still employ FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum) technology that automatically switches the frequency of the signal at random so it is harder to hack. They are also outfitted with login systems that can be personalised to further protect the integrity and security of the system. Even simple radio baby monitors will use encrypted channels to make the frequencies harder to hack.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two factor authentication is one of the best ways to secure your password-protected systems. Even if someone was able to hack your password, they would still not be able to gain access to your monitoring system because they could not complete the second level of security. It is a very easy thing to set up and doesn’t take too much extra time, so it is definitely a security measure that you should implement.

Turn Off Baby Monitors (and Connected Home Security Systems) When Not In Use

Turning off your home security and baby monitoring systems when you really don’t need them is an excellent way to deter hackers. They can’t access a system that is completely offline, after all. The first time or two you do this you may forget to turn it back on right away, but eventually it will become a part of your routine and you’ll be able to count on the security you’ll feel.

Install Anti Virus and Firewall Protections

Just like you install firewalls and anti virus software on your computer, you can do the same for your baby monitoring system. This makes them much more secure and protects your privacy from hackers. In addition, disabling the port forwarding and UPnP settings on the camera will also help increase your level of protection.

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