As parents, keeping your children safe is your number one priority. This starts from the moment they are born and continues through their lives. In the early years, you’ll likely invest in a video baby monitor to help you keep tabs on their sleep pattern and activities.
The very thing you’ve bought to keep your baby safe can, in some rare instances, be a potential risk in itself.
While these incidents aren’t common, you want to make sure you’ve done everything to keep your family safe from hackers. At Babysense, we take your family’s security seriously. We want you to be able to use your baby monitor with confidence.
The steps to secure your WiFi baby monitor are simple. So let's get started.
First things first, can your baby monitor be hacked?
Yes, a baby monitor is at risk of hacking. There have been unsettling stories shared by trusted publications that strangers have managed to project their voice through a monitor or even share videos they’ve stolen from someone’s baby monitor. While it’s still a rare occurrence, we understand why it concerns parents.
The good news is that we’ve heard no such stories about Babysense monitors, as we’ve done everything we can to make them secure.
We’ve covered how your baby monitor can get hacked in more detail elsewhere. But, before we run you through the best ways to secure your baby monitor, it’s worth reminding you what the risks are in the first place.
WiFi baby monitor security risks
WiFi-enabled baby monitors are the most likely to be hacked. The very thing that makes them popular, their connection to the internet, is also their weakness. Known weaknesses in old firmware or your router can be exploited.
Non-WiFi baby monitor hacking risks
Generally, people choose non-WiFi baby monitors because they are so secure. These monitors have protocols like Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) and Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT). These help secure non-WiFi baby monitors and make them particularly tricky to hack.
How to hack-proof your WiFi baby monitor
WiFi monitors are the most frequently targeted. Again, the chances of your monitor being hacked are low, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious. Follow these tips to ensure your internet-connected baby monitors are secure from hacking.
Secure your router
The ways hackers can gain access to your baby monitor listed above are all connected to your router. You want to make sure that your wireless router is secure. Whether you have a Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitor or one that has updates downloaded from the cloud or a third-party website, you can take a number of steps to secure your baby monitor.
Set strong passwords
When you’re setting the password for your baby monitor, you want it to be a password that you haven’t used anywhere else. We have all heard stories in the news about companies getting their customer information hacked; the last thing you want to do is make it easier for the hackers.
Avoid using the default login details provided by the manufacturer. We recommend avoiding default passwords for the same reason we suggest using a unique password; no one is safe from hackers.
In addition to the password for your baby monitor, you want to make sure that your Wi-Fi password is strong too. Once someone can hack into your Wi-Fi, they can access all of the connected devices, so you want to make sure that it is tightly secured.
Password strength is something you should care about for wider security too. While you’re securing your digital baby monitor and updating passwords, we’d recommend having a different and strong password for each of the following:
- Internet access to your router
- Remote administrator access to your router
- User or administrator local access to your router
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
You can check if your baby monitor allows two-factor authentication by going to the default settings. Whether two-factor authentication is available, you want to enable all of the security features available. Adding two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security to keep you and your family protected.
Get a digital baby monitor with an encrypted connection
Encryption is essential for a router or smart baby monitor. It makes sure that even if the worst comes to the worst and there’s a data breach, or your monitor is indeed compromised, the hacker won’t be able to view or do anything with what they get their hands on.
Use a completely unique email address.
This one may not be the first thing you think about. But if you want a secure baby monitor, consider using a completely unique email address. This way, if your own email address is compromised in a data breach, they won’t gain instant access to your baby monitor.
Run updates regularly
Another great way to keep your baby monitor protected is to regularly check for updates to the camera and the app and install when requested. Suppose your baby monitor has an option to run automatic firmware updates. In that case, you’ll want to select that, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do it yourself, leaving you and your family vulnerable to hackers.
It’s not just your baby monitor that needs regularly updating either. Keep your router software and firmware updated too.
Register your device
If this is available as an option, make sure you do it. When you register your device, you’ll get updates on potential security vulnerabilities or recall notices directly from the manufacturer.
Then set up Google Alerts
Setting up alerts for your monitor's manufacturer name and model number only takes a couple of minutes. Once you’ve done it, you’ll get an alert anytime something happens, whether that’s a new software update, a news story or a product recall. You’ll never miss something important that could have potential security implications.
Disable remote access
We highly recommend switching off remote access on your baby monitor when you’re not using it. You don’t want to allow hackers to take a look into your room, whether you’re in it or not.
For the highest security, we highly recommend disabling the feature to access the video feed on your phone through an app. The security and bandwidth implications of using this feature are too significant, putting yourself and your family at high risk of getting hacked. Enabling internet access is like leaving an invitation for hackers to come in.
Remote access is disabled on routers by default, but you should check on your router admin page under ‘remote setup’ to make sure.
Restrict your WiFi monitor access to your local network
We’re not just talking about remote access, either. You should set your monitor to only operate on your local WiFi network rather than the internet.
While someone could technically plugin and use an ethernet connection, it’s pretty unlikely. If they’re that close and doing something this shady, you’ve probably got more to be worried about.
Invest in a firewall
This is more of a blanket statement for your family’s security. If you have devices that connect to the internet, you should be firewall protected. A firewall, in addition to other security measures, can protect your router, browser, laptop, baby monitor and other smart devices from potential attacks. It’s the bare minimum you should invest in for your home network security.
Secure your other internet-connected devices
Once you’ve got a firewall and set up passwords, you want to ensure that every internet-connected device in your network is secure. Any single weak link could provide a hacker with a back door into the other devices in your home. Make sure each device is kept up-to-date and check for known security vulnerabilities with each device.
Check your camera's connectivity settings.
There are a couple of things, in particular, you want to check. These are your Dynamic DNS (DDNS), Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Port Forwarding settings. Make sure that each one is disabled.
Most of the time, these will automatically be disabled, and it’s unlikely you’ve turned them on. However, you should definitely check as they can create vulnerabilities for people who want to access your monitor via the internet.
Disabling UPnP will make it invisible for people trying to view it through your network, making it harder to hack. However, it will stop your monitor from sending data to your smartphone.
There’s a chance someone could enable port forwarding if they want to torrent things, which could cause you other security issues. If you know someone in your house which may be doing this, double-check your settings.
Change your camera port settings.
Not only should you disable port forwarding, but you want to make sure you aren’t just using the default port settings to keep your devices secure. The default is 80; try to use a number higher than 8100
Check your monitor logs.
If you really do need to have remote access enabled, then make sure you keep on top of your monitor logs. Check for unknown IP addresses or ones that come at odd times when you wouldn’t usually be checking your monitor. Strange access times or unfamiliar IPs could signal that someone is accessing your router or baby monitor that you don’t want.
Turn it off when you’re not using it.
Not only will turning off your baby cameras when they aren’t in use save you money, but it also minimises the opportunity they will be hacked. You’ll be reducing the time they’re available to target and only use them when you can keep an eye on everything.
Demand Better Security
When enough people demand better security in their baby monitors, manufacturers will prioritise it. Don’t be shy to bother retailers and manufacturers about the device’s security level you’re considering buying.
The baby monitor security checklist
So, to recap. The bare minimum you need to do to keep your baby monitor secure is:
- Keep it up to date
- Secure your internet connection
- Use strong password protection
- Change your camera settings
- Get a firewall
- Use encryption
Poor security is no excuse. If you’re investing in smart baby monitors or a digital monitor, you should also be investing time in keeping it secure.
How Babysense secure our baby monitors
That’s a hefty list of things that you can do to keep your baby monitor safe. But, you’ll be pleased to know that we’re also doing what we can to stop a hacker from gaining access to your baby cameras.
At Babysense we:
- Offer a collection of non-WiFi baby monitors that implement FHSS technology
- Use Point to Point digital encryption wireless transmission
While our main collection of video baby monitors is Wi-Fi free, we will soon also be offering a smart baby monitor and WiFi baby camera that implements the strongest encryption and security protocols available. We treat hacking and security vulnerabilities seriously and work daily to ensure that our own monitors are safe and secure.