Parents urged to beef up security on baby monitors after hacking

Parents urged to beef up security on baby monitors after hacking

While baby monitors are useful for parents, they can also present a security risk as they can be hacked. Picture: Pexels

Parents have been urged to make sure they have proper passwords and access control on  internet-enabled baby monitors following cases of hacking.

There are a number of baby monitors on the market that are accessible via a smartphone app, allowing parents to check in on their child from anywhere at any time.

While they are useful for parents, they can also present a security risk as they can be hacked.

That is precisely what happened to Michaela Beirne and her partner, Dean. The couple had a video monitor set up in their one-year-old's bedroom.

Ms Beirne described the fear they felt when they looked at the monitor on the phone and saw that young Theo was not in his cot.

The pair flew up the stairs, fearing the child had fallen out of his crib or, even worse, had been taken by an intruder, she told Claire Byrne Live.

Instead, they found Theo safe and sound where they had laid him down earlier that evening.

Once they reached the room, the still image of the empty cot returned to real-time footage. A red LED light on the camera indicated that someone was live-streaming from the camera, despite the fact that neither Michaela nor Dean had the app open at the time.

'Somebody is watching us'

"Somebody is watching us," Dean told his partner. Then, turning to face the camera monitor, "We know you're watching".

The light then turned blue, indicating whoever had been streaming was gone.

Responding to queries from the Irish Examiner, Owlet – the company that make the device Ms Beirne used – said it took great care to keep devices secure.

A spokesperson said its devices use the latest encryption standards (AES) to keep customers' data safe.

"All communications between our customers’ phones and their devices are also encrypted using TLS, the standard encryption protocol used across the internet.

"User data stored in the mobile application is only accessible to users logged in to the application through their smartphone."

Owlet also said it conducts regular security audits with a top-rated, independent security firm.

Understandably, many parents are concerned about their devices after hearing Ms Beirne's experience.

Melanie Corrigan, security solutions manager with Smarttech247, said what happened to Ms Beirne is something they have seen many times.

These devices are very vulnerable due to lack of inbuilt security features by the manufacturers as well as improper set up of passwords, access control etc."

Ms Corrigan advised installing security updates and firmware updates, adding that securing the device with a strong password when setting it up is imperative.

Owlet also advises customers to change the device and the internet router passwords from the default to a strong and unique password that is not shared with anyone else.

Ms Corrigan also suggested using multi-factor authentication where possible.

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