Amarillo, TX - Unwelcome eyes may be peering into your home or business through a non-secure web camera.
A Russian-based website is accessing personal web cameras around the world, including some right here in Amarillo. They claim it is all a part of a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of security settings.
The webcams accessed by the Russian website have one thing in common: they all lack a secure password. The cameras show live feeds of everything from surveillance systems at businesses to home security cameras to baby monitors showing sleeping children in their crib.
"Webcam software usually has a place where you put in the password and most people just settle for the default password," said Julie Korinek from Cat.man.du. "That's not a good idea. You really need a long, intricate password that is not going to be hacked."
Default passwords are freely available online, which is how the website has access to more than 4,500 webcams in the United States. NewsChannel 10 found two cameras in Amarillo. What is also concerning, is these cameras not only show strangers your seemingly private images, but they also reveal your location. "They can determine the exact location that the webcam is in, which means if that webcam is in your house, they have your address and they probably know what room it is in inside your house," said Korinek.
Korinek recommends resetting your password if you have been using a default one, even on cameras you don't think anyone would have any interest in. "A lot of people use nanny cams. It watches a baby while it sleeps and everything like that. They think, 'oh no one is interested in that so I'm not going to set a password,' but you just never know, so you should always default into setting a password and a good password."
Britain's information commissioner is working with the Federal Trade Commission to urge Russian authorities to shut the Russian website down.