Protect Your Baby Monitor From Hackers

The security risks and how to prevent intrusions

Hand holding a baby monitor with image of sleeping baby
Jinxy Productions / Getty Images

With the advent of smart homes and the Internet of Things, more and more everyday household items are evolving and becoming capable of communicating with the internet and each other. Even baby monitors, once simple walkie-talkie-style listening tools, now have sophisticated digital functionality, including video, night vision, temperature sensors, and even Wi-Fi.

With increased connectivity, however, comes more risk. Anything connected to the internet can become a hacker's target, and smart baby monitors are no exception. Here's a look at the security risks posed by smart baby monitors and how parents can prevent intrusions.

Baby monitor hacking horror stories include parents hearing voices over the monitor, children reporting strange people "living" in their monitor, webcams following residents' movements, and more.

Who's Hacking Your Baby Monitor?

Unfortunately, baby monitors are relatively easy to hack, and when an internet-capable monitor becomes part of your network, it becomes a vulnerable target. But while it's easy to see why a hacker would go after bank account info and passwords, why would someone want to hack into a baby monitor?

Some people who hack into baby monitors are voyeurs, harboring a strange desire to peer into someone else's life as if it were a reality show. Others are pranksters who think it's funny to use talk-back features to scare parents and children.

Still, others are bonafide criminals, aiming to steal information, extort, blackmail, or otherwise make money off other people. For example, if a would-be burglar has audio and video access into your home, they can figure out the best time to strike.

The bottom line is that if your baby monitor's security settings aren't up to par, there's a good chance someone will try to hack it for some nefarious purpose.

Hacked baby monitors are also an identity theft risk. Many systems have multiple cameras set up around the house, so a hacker can zoom in on sensitive documents, peer over your shoulder while you're at the computer, or eavesdrop on personal conversations.

Prevent Your Baby Monitor From Being Hacked

Update Firmware

Remember to update your baby monitor’s software regularly, because most updates include security changes. Check the manufacturer’s website frequently for updated firmware (the software built into the camera’s hardware that runs everything) that affects your model. Find out if the manufacturer added any additional security features and make sure to implement them.

Register your product immediately to ensure the manufacturer stays in contact with you about patches, updates, and security advice.

Use Strong Passwords

Many cameras ship with a default login name and password. Some of these may be unique, but some may be a known default for every camera made by the manufacturer.

As soon as you install the monitor system, change the default username and password to something stronger.

Make sure the baby monitor you choose offers an encrypted connection. This way, even if hackers get their hands on some footage, they won't be able to see the details.

Secure Your Home Network and Wireless Router

Secure your wireless network and router, including making sure your router's firmware is updated. Make sure your home network password is strong.

Also, weigh the risks versus the benefits of using the internet-connected features of your baby monitor. Enabling this feature raises bandwidth and security implications that may not be worth the potential trouble. Restricting the connection to your local network only may greatly reduce the chance of your monitor being hacked.

Review the “local only setup” instructions on your baby monitor's manufacturer’s website to implement this type of setup.