how to protect your baby monitor from being hacked

How To Protect Your Baby Monitor From Being Hacked

If you are a new parent, congratulations!

You’ve got a lot on your plate, and are probably hugely sleep deprived. We understand that.

If you’re reading this, you are probably the kind of person who already takes cybersecurity pretty seriously: your malware protection is up to date, use strong passwords, and you use a VPN to encrypt what you do online. Well done.

You’ve probably also invested in some tech to keep your family safe, including a baby monitor. If so, I’ve got some worrying news for you: it seems that hacks of baby monitors are on the increase.

Evidence of this is not hard to find. In a recent case, a couple from South Carolina heard expletives coming through their baby monitor. In another, a hacker took control of a parent’s device and broadcast threats directly into their child’s room.

A Growing Threat

Unfortunately, such stories are not unique. They seem to be part of a growing trend. As more and more of our devices are connected to the internet, we introduce more and more vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.

This means that many parents buy baby monitors thinking that they will help to keep their family safe, but that they are actually introducing another threat.

As Theresa Payton. The former Chief Information Officer to President George W. Bush and CEO of Fortalice Solutions, told Fatherly a few months back, “Parents have the assumption that these devices should just be secure,” the mother of three says. “The fact is that these are still so easy to get access to.”

Thankfully, though, there are some pretty easy ways to secure your devices – including your baby monitor – against cyber threats.

Many of these don’t require any technical know-how, and most of them are probably already part of your routine: things like keeping software up to date, and securing all of your devices with strong passwords.

When it comes to baby monitors in particular, there are also a number of specific techniques and tools you can use to keep your family secure.

Let us take you through them.

Register Your Baby Monitor

First and foremost, you should register your device with the manufacturer.

We all know we should do this, but it’s easy to forget to do so in the rush to get a device set up quickly. As a new parent, your to-do list is also pretty long, and taking the time to register your device can seem like a waste of valuable time.

Please don’t take that approach.

If you’ve bought a baby monitor from a respectable manufacturer, they are likely to take the security of their devices seriously. If they discover a security flaw in your baby monitor, they will typically issue a patch to fix it.

If you haven’t registered your device, you’re not going to get that patch. That means that once the security flaw is posted to hacker discussion groups (which most are), your system will be very vulnerable.

Encrypt Your Baby Monitors’ Connection

Another easy way of keeping your baby monitor secure, and one that offers excellent protection against hackers, is to encrypt the connection you use to access it.

There are several approaches to doing this. Some top-end baby monitors offer encrypted connections as standard, and so encrypting the footage they take is as easy as logging into the settings on your monitor and enabling this feature.

Another way of doing this is to encrypt your entire WiFi network. Most baby monitors use your home WiFi to send footage to your devices, and so encrypting your home network means that this data will be secure by default.

The best way of encrypting the information you access online, whether from your baby monitor or anywhere else, is to use a good VPN like ours. You can even load a VPN onto your router, and therefore ensure that everything you do is encrypted.

The reason why encryption is important is simple enough. Even if you take all the necessary precautions, data leaks and breaches happen pretty regularly. If you have encrypted the footage from your baby monitor, even if a hacker manages to get hold of it they will not be able to decipher it.

Reset Your Baby Monitor Regularly

Hopefully, your baby monitor is reliable, and you don’t often have to reset it just in order to get it to work.

Unfortunately, that can mean that you forget it is even there. Resetting your baby monitor from time to time is important, because this will allow it to download and install the latest security patches.

It’s a good idea, in fact, to turn off all the devices you use from time to time. Not only does this allow them to grab any security patches that have recently been released, but it will also make them more efficient and more secure.

It might sound silly, but the best way of ensuring you stick to these guidelines might be to set a calendar reminder. Every month, say, spend an hour turning all of your devices off, and then back on again, and you can rest secure in the knowledge that they are all up to date.

Give Your Baby Monitor an Email Address

Another good principle of information security, when it comes to baby monitors or any other device, is to use a dedicated email for each. When you first get your baby monitor, it is a good idea to set up a specific email account for it.

That might sound like a lot of work, but trust us: it might save you worry in the long term.

The problem with using your primary email address for your baby monitor (or your other devices) is that if your primary email is hacked, this will compromise every device you have connected to it. Having multiple email addresses distributes the risk, and ensures that only one device will need re-setting.

Change The Factory Passwords and Settings

You might find it hard to believe, but the default passwords for many devices, including WiFi routers and baby monitors, are posted online. This means that if a hacker can work out the make and model of your device (which is easy enough), and you haven’t changed the default password, they can just login as if they are you.

It’s amazing, really, that device manufacturers can still get away with this. But, in any case, this means that you should change the default password on every device you own, immediately.

Use A Strong Password

Oh, and when you change the password on your baby monitor, you should choose a good one.

That means: don’t use ‘123456’, ‘password’, or anything similar. You’d be amazed at how common passwords like these are, even in 2019.

The best advice on choosing a strong password is to come up with a fairly long string of words, then add some numbers and special characters. Longer passwords are better, but you need not make a password that is a string of incomprehensible numbers and special characters: a 30-character password made of common words is easier to remember, and in fact more secure, than a short password like {$£)”_}}.

Set Up Google Alerts

Last but definitely not least, it’s a good idea to keep yourself up to date with any news about your baby monitor, or the manufacturer you bought it from.

That’s because data leaks happen pretty frequently, and new security issues are discovered all the time. If you set a Google News Alert for your devices’ make and model, you can be sure that you will catch any issues as they arise, and take preventative action.

Secure Everything

If you’ve done all of the above, then you’ve taken all the reasonable steps you can to keep your baby monitor, and your family, safe and secure.

But please don’t stop there. Once you’ve secured your baby monitor, take a moment to think about the other internet-enabled devices that are around your home. It’s easy to forget about these, because they are designed to blend into the background. But it is just as important to keep them secure as your laptop, phone, and router.

This means that the advice above holds for all your other devices. Keep your software up to date, plan regular resets, and make sure you use strong passwords.

And, of course, encrypt everything you can.

We think the best way of doing that is to use a VPN. We also think PureVPN is the best VPN out there, but we’re biased 🙂

Ultimately, your family’s security is your own responsibility, so make sure you take cyber threats seriously. That way, the devices you’ve bought to keep your family safe will do just that, rather than merely introduce another security vulnerability.

Ather Owais is a tech and cyber security enthusiast, and a Kodi expert. He follows technological trends and their impact on today's digital era.

Have Your Say!!

Join 3 million+ users to embrace internet freedom

Signup for PureVPN to get complete online security and privacy with a hidden IP address and encrypted internet traffic.