Why Russian site may be watching you on a webcam or baby monitor

A Russian-based website is offering computer video feeds into people's homes around the world. A database on the site shows listings for 4,591 cameras in the US, 2,059 in France, and 1,576 in the Netherlands.

Imogen wireless baby monitor

Big Brother is watching you. At least, he might be if you don't change the password on any surveillance-capable camera on your home or office, warn data watchdogs.

A Russian-based website containing "thousands of live feeds to baby monitors, stand-alone webcams, and CCTV systems" is providing feeds from more than 250 countries, about 500 streaming from the UK alone, according the BBC. Allegedly, the site is doing it to prove a point about security. 

The massive breach has targeted elderly and youth alike, people in their gardens and people at work. One student reported being spied on in the bath – the webcam on the computer she was trying to watch a movie on flickered on and when she tried to switch it off it said it was being accessed by someone else, according to The Daily Record.

Point taken yet?

The website is able to access people's private information by using the default login credentials, which are freely available online, according to Britain's Information Commissioner's office.

The commissioner's office used the incident to highlight the dangers of using weak passwords, urging people to reset their default passwords.

"If you take only one security step when getting any new device, make sure it’s setting a strong password," the office advised, directing people to Get Safe Online for tips.

The ICO also said it is "working with other global data protection and privacy authorities on collaborative action connected to the website showing unsecure webcam images, while advising people on the steps they can take to protect their information."

The feeds visible on the site Thursday appeared to be from an office in Warwickshire, a child's bedroom in Birmingham, a home's driveway in Nottinghamshire, a gym in Manchester, a pub in Salford, and a shop interior in London, the BBC reported. A database on the site shows listings for 4,591 cameras in the US, 2,059 in France, and 1,576 in the Netherlands, and a smaller number of feeds are available from developing economies including Nicaragua, Pakistan, Kenya, Paraguay and Zimbabwe.

UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told BBC Breakfast if the site is trying to alert people to the security breach – as it claims – then "now we all know and please will they take it down."

He said he would work with Russian authorities and others to have the site taken down.

Foscam, Linksys, and Panasonic are the most commonly listed brands whose cameras are being accessed by the site.

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