The UK government has warned that Russian website Insecam is collecting the feeds of thousands of webcams worldwide, allowing any internet user to see into private homes.
The Daily Mail reports that the site works by collecting the feeds of webcams that have either poor or non-existent security.
It’s common for people to purchase internet-connected security cameras to monitor their houses and businesses. But what they often don’t realise is that the default security settings on those devices can leave them wide open to for anyone on the internet to view them.
There are over 500 webcams just in the UK listed on Insecam. They include baby monitors showing sleeping children, security cameras showing pensioners eating their lunch, as well as offices, empty living rooms, and a view of some pavement in Alcester.
Older models of Linksys, Foscam, and Panasonic cameras are the most common names to appear on Insecam. They were designed to allow anyone to view the camera’s live feed using just an IP address. Other cameras can be accessed by using the manufacturer’s default password, which often remains unchanged and can be as simple as four zeroes.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said that the government will work with Russia to try and shut down the site. But the government can’t contact the people affected by poor webcam security because doing so would breach the Data Protection Act.
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