Data watchdogs across the world have drawn attention to the Russian-based site, which broadcasts footage from systems using either default passwords or no log-in codes at all.
The site lists streams from more than 250 countries and other territories.The site’s database shows listings for 4,591 cameras in the US, 2,059 in France and 1,576 in the Netherlands.
The warning follows the creation of a website that allows voyeurs to watch live footage from insecure cameras located around the world. The website, which is based in Russia, accesses the information by using the default login credentials, which are freely available online, for thousands of cameras.
The site streams live footage ranging from CCTV networks to built-in cameras from baby monitors. The video is largely available because people and businesses alike are failing to change the passwords on the kit from the defaults.
A statement from the ICO “We now want to take very prompt action working with the Federal Trade Commission in the States to get this thing closed down,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “But the more important thing is to get the message out to consumers to take those security measures. If you don’t need remote access to a webcam then switch off that function altogether.”
He also gave the following advice:
- Choose strong passwords. Don’t use easily guessable strings of letters or numbers such as ‘12345’ or ‘qwerty’. A combination of numerals, letters and symbols is best.
- don’t use words that are easily associated with you. Ideally don’t use any words that can be found in the dictionary at all.
- Don’t use the same password across all your devices and services.
- if you have a camera in your home, turn its remote viewing options off, or if you cannot work out how to do it, cover the lens.
- if you use cloud services to store information, consider introducing two-step authentication. This will require you to enter an extra code when logging in, but could help protect you from being hacked.