Home webcams designed to keep your family safe may in fact put them at risk, suggests a settlement filed by the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday against a video camera servurity company. In some cases, cameras designed to check in on children were instead used by computer hackers across the Internet.
The case is also a warning of things to come as the Internet of Things turns from marketing phase to reality.
Some families who installed cameras from TRENDnet, under its SecurView brand, suffered alarming privacy invasions, the FTC says, after a hacker discovered security flaws in the cameras back in January 20120. The flaw granted access to camera feeds, and 700 of them were then shared widely online.
“The feeds displayed babies asleep in their cribs, young children playing, and adults going about their daily lives,” the FTC said. The agency also accused TRENDnet of not securing consumers’ usernames and passwords properly.
The firm agreed to fix its software and consent to regular security audits.
The rush to connect gadgets of all kinds in the household to the Internet — commonly called “The Internet of Things” — holds tremendous potential, but also creates alarming security and privac concerns. In the past, I’ve called this the “George Jetson vs. George Orwell” problem.
“The Internet of Things holds great promise for innovative consumer products and services. But consumer privacy and security must remain a priority as companies develop more devices that connect to the Internet,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.
Here’s a link to the FTC’s announcement.
And here’s a link to a helpful, if basic, page about correctly setting up home video monitoring systems.