Blog Post

UK seeks to shutter Russian site streaming video from webcams

If you feel like someone’s watching you, you might be right.

A mega peeping Tom site out of Russia is collecting video and images from poorly secured webcams, closed-circuit TV cameras and even baby monitors around the world and is streaming the results. And now Christopher Graham, the U.K.’s information commissioner, wants to shut it down, according to this Guardian report.

According to the Guardian, Graham wants the Russian government to put the kibosh on the site and if that doesn’t happen will work with other regulators, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, to step in.

This is yet another reminder that most consumers (including some presumably tech-savvy consumers) do not take the most minimal steps to protect themselves. As you read this, do yourself a favor and put  a sticky note over your laptop’s webcam. Oh, and when you’re finished, go and set the strongest possible (and unique) passwords for all your devices and cloud services. As we all should have learned from the U.K. phone hacking scandal a few years back, vendor default passwords and PIN numbers are for chumps.

Photo by F. Schmidt/Shutterstock

Earlier this month a NetworkWorld blogger wrote about a site, presumably the same one mentioned by Graham, with a Russian IP address that accesses some 73,000 unsecured security cameras.

The site has a pretty impressive inventory of images it said were gleaned from Foscam, Linksys, Panasonic security cameras, other unnamed “IP cameras” and AvTech and Hikvision DVRs, according to that post. The site was purportedly set up to illustrate the importance of updating default security passwords.

According to NetworkWorld the site includes:

 … 40,746 pages of unsecured cameras just in the first 10 country listings: 11,046 in the U.S.; 6,536 in South Korea; 4,770 in China; 3,359 in Mexico; 3,285 in France; 2,870 in Italy; 2,422 in the U.K.; 2,268 in the Netherlands; 2,220 in Colombia; and 1,970 in India. Like the site said, you can see into ‘bedrooms of all countries of the world.’ There are 256 countries listed plus one directory not sorted into country categories.

What’s ironic about all this is while many of us get our knickers in a twist about governmental spying on our stuff, we also seem to be giving away a lot of the goods about our personal lives through sheer negligence.

Soooo, if there you ever needed proof that you absolutely need to change the default passwords on all your devices from cell phones to security systems, here it is.

Image courtesy of F.Schmidt/Shutterstock