Is Your Baby Monitor Being Hacked?

A baby sleeping in a sweater on white sheets

REB Images / Getty Images

Is there anything more sacred than your baby’s room? It should be the safest of safe places. Every corner padded, every surface clean, every sound and smell soothing and comforting.

Unfortunately, the sanctity of many babies’ rooms is now being violated by hackers. How on earth could a hacker hack their way into your baby’s room you ask?

The Modern Internet-Connected Baby Monitor

The baby monitor has evolved over many years. In the past, it was nothing more than a crude radio transmitter paired with a receiver, often picking up radio transmissions and other anomalies. Its limited range helped prevent most eavesdropping possibilities.

The first evolution of the baby monitor was video. Now, bleary-eyed moms and dads could not only hear their baby but they could see them. Night vision technology was added to help increase visibility when the lights were out in the baby’s room.

With the advent of smartphones came the “connected” baby monitor. Now parents could connect their baby monitor to the internet so that they could use their smartphone and/or tablet to connect to the baby monitor allowing them to view it from virtually anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

As with all things connected to the internet, there is a dark side. Many of these baby monitors weren’t designed with security in mind. Manufacturer’s probably thought “who would ever want to hack a baby monitor?”. Someone always does and will try to hack just about anything that is connected to the internet and baby monitors are no different.

Who Would Hack a Baby Monitor?

  • Voyeurs

As odd as this sounds, some hackers may want to peer into parents and their children’s lives as if it was some strange reality show. People probably say all kinds of private stuff not even thinking that there might be some stranger on the end of that baby monitor.

  • Pranksters

Some net-connected baby monitors feature the ability for parents to talk back to the baby via a speaker on the baby monitor's camera. The idea was that you could tell the baby “go back to sleep” or something and calm them down without having to go in their room and further disturb them. Some evil pranksters will purposely hack into baby monitors to use the talkback feature to try and scare the baby and/or the parents. The only person that finds it funny is them. There is probably a special place in hell for these people.

  • Criminals

The bad guys will always find some use for this whether it’s stealing personal information that was heard over the microphone, extortion, blackmail, you name it and some criminal has already found some way to make money off of hacking baby monitors.

Prevent Your Baby Monitor From Being Hacked

Your first step towards securing your internet-connected baby monitor should be to check the manufacturer’s website for updated firmware (the software built into the camera’s hardware that runs everything).

Chances are pretty good that your camera manufacturer has updated its firmware to fix a security issue or some other software flaw. You should check back frequently to see if any new firmware affecting your model has been released.

You may also want to find out if there are any additional security features that have been added to the firmware that you might want to take advantage of.

Create a Strong Password for the Camera Log In

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

You should change both the username and the password as soon as you install the camera, if you do nothing else, at least make a strong password because hackers are counting on you not to, and this is one of the easy ways they are able to hack into your baby monitor. It’s not really even a “hack” per se, they just log in with the known default username and password. Bottom line: change this password ASAP.

Set It to Local Network Only

You need to weigh the risks versus the benefits of using the internet-connected features of your baby monitor and decide whether it’s really worth running it in “internet-connected mode” or if you would rather have it only accessible via your local network. Restricting the connection to the local network only may greatly reduce the chance of your monitor being hacked.

Again, it’s up to you to decide your level of risk tolerance. If you opt for local connection only, check to see how to set the camera up this way by reviewing “local only set up” instructions on your baby monitor's manufacturer’s website.

Secure Your Home Network and Wireless Router

You also need to make sure you’ve done your best to ensure that hackers can’t make their way into your home network. read up on Wireless Security and Home Network Security for more information.