AVON--Web security cameras are more popular than ever and can be great for keeping an eye on your home or business while you're away. But your eyes might not be the only set watching the video.
Whether they're are installed in a home, business or built into a laptop, Web-enabled cameras are nearly everywhere these days.
"Those cameras can be hijacked and turned on without you knowing about it," says Marc D'Aloisio. D'Aloisio works on security incident response and investigation for the state of Connecticut's IT Security Division. "If you had enabled that to be on the Internet or if there was malware on your machine that you weren't aware of, a person could enable that camera," he explains.
The most common breach is with network webcams that have factory default passwords. Almost anyone can look up the passwords, which are published on sites like "ShodanHQ." Then, pretty easily, they can gain access to the video.
Tens of thousands of open webcams are currently posted at the site insecams.com, including dozens in Connecticut. We found cameras in Avon and Berlin, among other towns.
"I'm always worried about that because I think it's an invasion of privacy and it's almost now like you can't stop it," says West Hartford resident Tom Dalao.
He doesn't have a network enabled web cam, but does have one built into his laptop.
Those can be hacked into if you click on malware, giving hackers direct access to your computer, and therefore your camera.
"I put a piece of tape over it and I don't really use it, I don't bring it up in my inventory or anything," says Dalao.
The scary part for some, is that "nanny cams" can be in babies' rooms, bedrooms and other private places.
In many cases, people don't even realize they're a victim.
"It can be used by criminals to actually kind of go shopping and see what's around and what they might want to break into or to see when you're not home or when you're not vulnerable," says D'Aloisio.
Whether it's peeping toms or potential thieves, you can stop them.
- When you're not using the camera, shut it off.
- If the webcam is built into your laptop, follow Tom's lead and cover it with tape.
- Remember, for network-enabled webcams that you can watch on your smartphone, go to "administrator settings" and be sure to change the password.
"People do use them for Skype, they use them for a lot of good purposes! You just gotta be careful because there are people out there who will abuse anything that they can," says D'Aloisio.