Due to user inattention, there are thousands of cameras worldwide – including Hungary – whose images can be seen freely by anyone on the Internet after a little searching.
Unprotected Hungarian cameras have been mapped by a Hungarian cybersecurity company called Alverad. Based on their observations, these are not just webcams in the classic sense, but Internet-connected security cameras, baby monitors, and all the other camera gadgets connected to the worldwide web.
Besides their usefulness, owners have to be careful as such cameras can easily become the main targets of cybercrime. Improperly protected, networked devices can be a considerable risk as – due to the lack of expertise – they can be accessed by anyone. Accordingly, as a result of user inattention, the devices’ vulnerability can also lead to strangers watching live that a mom just puts her sleeping baby in bed believing that no one else can see this in her home.
Furthermore, in addition to passive listening, they can even take control, for example, by moving the camera, stopping or starting recording, using the speakers.
As the Hungarian news portal Telex reports, it is not necessarily a problem in itself if a camera is available from the net due to remote controllability. It becomes problematic if the device is unsafe due to lack of protection or if the user is not careful enough. The most common mistakes are:
It might occur that the owner does not want to connect the camera to the worldwide web but does not know how to set up the device and allows something they wouldn’t do if they knew what it was doing. According to Tamás Kocsis, member of Alverad, this is the most common reason for unauthorised access to home cameras.
The freely available cameras were mapped with a device finder called Shodan, that found at least 1,125 domestic streaming cameras, the image of which was accessible to anyone without any particular hindrance.
These included various security cameras, outdoor surveillance devices, indoor cameras in malls and stores, baby monitoring devices. The expert also revealed that camera access also has its own black market, where netizens trade the data needed for admission.
With access to the cameras, burglars can monitor more easily when residents are not at a particular location. Besides violating privacy, even more severe consequences might occur, such as intimate images appearing on porn sites later on, or harassment and blackmail.
According to the expert, in both corporate and home environments, we should avoid remarkably cheap cameras from unknown manufacturers, consider the choice of device carefully and check the available security features with the manufacturer.