Could a Stranger Hack Into Your Baby Monitor?

Just last week, a television station in Cincinnati reported on a disturbing incident involving an internet-enabled baby monitor. Adam and Heather Schreck were awakened around midnight by the voice of a man yelling at their daughter Emma, and were shocked to discover their baby monitor was moving — even though they were not the ones moving it.

Last August, Marc Gilbert of Houston heard a man yelling " Wake up, Allyson, you little (expletive)" through the baby monitor in his two-year-old's room. His daughter's name was spelled out on the wall. In this case, Allyson couldn't hear the stranger: She is deaf and her cochlear implants were turned off at the time.

In both cases, the baby monitors hacked were made by Foscam, and sell for about $200. But being hacked is not exclusive to this brand. Security experts agree that all devices connected to the Internet are a risk, and hacking them happens more often than you would imagine. It's not a brilliant hack, either. Widely available programs like Shodan allow people to scan public IP addresses and find webcams that are externally accessible.

Experts say that parents need to be careful, and understand that manufacturers of these devices try to make them as easy to use as possible for their customers. To help prevent hacking, it's vital to change the default user name and password combination right away, and to choose a unique combination. Updates to firmware are important, too, especially if the device is more than six months old. These reasonable cautions will allow parents to have the convenience of a video monitor while protecting themselves from obvious hacking risks.