John Matherly created a search engine called Shodan in 2009. It scans for internet connected devices which are insecure and vulnerable (with no or default passwords). Once connected, this search engine provides video feeds from these webcams to the paying members. It keeps crawling the web for IP address with open ports. If any of these open ports doesn’t need any authentication security and is transmitting live video feed, then it is broadcasted to the members online.Search Engine Maybe Broadcasting Your Webcam Feed to Voyeurs Globally #NetworkSecurity Click To Tweet
So think of it like this – if you have an internet connection where you have default password or no password for your modem and you use a webcam in your bedroom, then you are basically transmitting your love life for the world indiscriminately!
When asked why it would offer such voyeuristic stuff to the world at the expense of some innocent hapless person – the company suggests that the aim is not to promote voyeurism but to expose the internet vulnerabilities and lack of security.
Keep your Home Network Off of Voyeurs’ Eyes and Secure
There are many tips and tools to use to secure your internet connections. Here are THREE useful things to do.
Encrypt your Wi-Fi: There are three standards – WPA2, WPA and WEP. Of these WPA2 is the strongest. You can read on these standards here. Make sure you make up a password which is tough, non-intuitive and complex to guess or find.
Change your Default Settings: These are meant to help you set up the router or modems easily. And they are public knowledge. So, change them right away. What to change? Default IP address and default log-in password – these are the most susceptible. These two help manage all of the router’s settings and access a router’s Web interface.
Block any Remote Access: Some people want to access their home network remotely. In most cases, remote access settings are not required to be switched on. So switch them off!! Also switch off the UPnP setting. This feature allows a UPnP-compatible device to alter your router settings without logging in to the Web interface.
Two useful resources
- Best Practices Guide for keeping your Home Network Secure – NSA (pdf)
- StaySafeOnline – by National Cyber Security Alliance (Useful resources)