Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) wants owners of baby monitors and smart CCTV cameras to take some basic security precautions, according to the BBC. Criminals have been taking advantage of the default factory settings of devices, allowing them to observe homes around the country.
However, the GCHQ-owned infosec arm of the government has published a set of simple guidelines for ordinary people to follow, without having to have in-depth knowledge of cybersecurity or the confusing technical language that comes with it.
Dr Ian Levy, the NCSC’s technical director, said in a statement: “Smart technology such as cameras and baby monitors are fantastic innovations with real benefits for people, but without the right security measures in place, they can be vulnerable to cyber attackers.”
In GCHQ’s own words, the security measures are pared down to three simple steps:
- If your camera comes with a default password, change it to a secure one – connecting three random words which you’ll remember is a good way to do this. You can usually change your password using the app you use to manage the device.
- Keep your camera secure by regularly updating security software. Not only does this keep your devices secure, but often adds new features and other improvements.
- If you do not use the feature that lets you remotely access the camera from the internet, it is recommended you disable it.
“Which? has repeatedly exposed serious security flaws with devices including wireless cameras and children’s toys, so mandatory security requirements and strong enforcement that ensures manufacturers, retailers and online marketplaces are held accountable for selling insecure products is essential,” said Caroline Normand, director of advocacy at Which?
Regularly changing passwords is essential for any device or login, which many people neglect to do. While there is advice for users to use three random words added together for new passwords, some fear this may still not be enough to deter hackers.
Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at ESET, said of the efforts: “Password managers should not be feared; many people think that putting all their passwords in one place on the cloud will make them somewhat vulnerable to attack. However, it’s the opposite that is true. The clever use of two-factor authentication, 2FA, and robust encryption are a far stronger mix than having to remember hundreds of accounts each with three random words.”
The advice from GCHQ comes soon after a proposed new law that would stop manufacturers setting default passwords on to new devices, provide a point of contact for the public for reporting security vulnerabilities, and to clearly state the useful lifespan of a device, i.e., for how long security updates for a device will be published.
Smart home devices have long been known to have insecurities that are well known to experts and tech enthusiasts, as such devices become more commonplace, from baby monitors and toys to home security cameras, and even domestic appliances such as smart vacuum cleaners.
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