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News

Information Commissioner’s Office warns nurseries to check security of webcams

Nurseries are being warned to check the security of their webcams, in the wake of an incident where a Russian website streamed live footage from thousands of insecure webcams across the world.

The website accessed the cameras over the internet by using the default login details, which are freely available online, for thousands of cameras.

The footage was collected from security cameras used by businesses and members of the public, ranging from CCTV networks used to keep large premises secure, down to built-in cameras on baby monitors.

With 350,000 of these cameras sold in the UK alone last year, this is a threat that all nurseries need to be aware of and be taking action to protect against, if they use webcams to film rooms in their nursery, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

An ICO spokeswoman said: “As a minimum, nurseries should change the camera’s default password that you need to enter to get the device working. This might be blank or something as simple as ‘password’ or ‘12345’ but, even if it isn’t, the default passwords many manufacturers use are freely available online so make sure you get it changed. If the device doesn’t have a password, you should set one up.”

The ICO advises nurseries to choose a strong password which can’t be easily guessed. Passwords containing a mixture of lower and upper case numbers, letters and character are best.

Most camera systems come with instructions explaining how to keep the footage you’re capturing secure. Take time to read the manual and familiarise yourself with the security options available to you.

“You may think that having to type in an obscure web address to access the footage provides some level of protection. However, this will not protect you from the remote software that hackers often use to scan the internet for vulnerable devices. In some cases, insecure cameras can be identified using nothing more than an internet search engine.

“If you have no intention of viewing footage of the nursery over the internet, then the best thing to do is to go into the device’s security settings and see if you can turn the remote viewing option off. Selecting this option will not normally stop you from viewing the footage using your nursery Wi-Fi network, however read the manufacturer’s instructions to see what controls are available on your device,” added the ICO spokeswoman.

The ICO website has more advice at http://iconewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/is-someone-watching-you-right-now-a-warning-as-website-targets-insecure-webcams/ 

January 2015