What The Tech: Scary Snooping Routers
CHARLOTTE N.C. – The most important device in your home is one you probably never touch and may never even see. It’s the WiFi router that every device connects to in order to be connected to the internet.
Your televisions, gaming systems, computers, smartphones, doorbells, garage door opener, and smart thermostat all need a WiFi connection to work the way it’s intended. If the router gets hacked, the bad guys can virtually and remotely access any device connected to it. That includes security cameras you may have around your home.
Online there are several websites that livestream cameras from around the world. Most of them are public WiFi cameras from seaports, highways, and businesses, but there are also some home security cameras showing backyards, doorsteps, swimming pools, and bedrooms. Hackers have posted even more personal home security cameras on websites hosted on the dark web.
How is this possible? Because the cameras and the routers are not protected by solid usernames and passwords.
Security cameras from the big brands (Ring, ADT, Nest, Blink, Wyze, Eufy, etc) have lots of security to prevent this. Cheap foreign knockoff cameras do not. But even those secure big brand cameras are susceptible to cyber peeping toms unless you take a few steps to protect yourself.
Cameras come with passwords and log-ins and if you haven’t changed those right out of the box, someone who knows what they’re doing can find the login credentials and view your camera feeds. Earlier this year the FBI warned consumers that hackers working for the People’s Republic of China were hacking into homes in the U.S. using malicious codes that were installed on routers when the homeowner clicked on a link in an email.
All routers come with default usernames and passwords and users are supposed to change them once they are connected to the home WiFi network. Many times the login credentials are simply “admin” and “password.” Those default logins are easily found with a simple internet search as camera makers post default login information on their websites so consumers can easily find them.
Armed with the login for the router and the cameras, hackers who know what they’re doing can take control of everything in the home that’s connected to the internet through the WiFi router.
Check your routers. Download the app and change the login credentials that it came with. Every few months, unplug the router for about 10 seconds and plug it back in. This will install any security updates and will likely speed things up for all of the devices connected to it.