You've probably thought about protecting your family and home with a camera. When they're connected to the internet, you can remotely see who's in your house and what they're doing.
That gives you peace of mind. Which is precisely why it's so upsetting that more than a dozen brands of webcams are being exploited by hackers to watch you from halfway around the world, or right next door.
That's more than creepy. It's potentially dangerous. Worse, hackers using your webcam to watch you is just one of a slew of security vulnerabilities they're using to access your internet-connected devices.
First things first. If you're using any of these China-made webcam brands, immediately disconnect them from the internet: Opticam i5 HD, Foscam C2, Chacon, Thomson, Opticam, 7links, Ambientcam, Netis, Turbox, Novodio, Nexxt, Technaxx, Iyue, Sab, Ebode, Qcam and probably others.
Second, and most important, there is not much you can do to protect yourself except disconnect webcams made by the company Foscam. Security researchers have alerted Foscam to several security vulnerabilities, but the company has not yet fixed them.
Note: This isn't the first time security issues have been discovered in Foscam cameras. We alerted you to another issue related to Foscam home security cameras back in 2016. Click here if you missed that story.
Security gaps put you in danger
The security firm F-Secure has found 18 security holes in Foscam webcams, notably in the brand Opticam i5 HD. These include empty passwords that hackers can easily exploit and that, incredibly, users like you cannot change.
There are also firewalls that provide absolutely no protection from hackers. Those hackers can also use your webcam to access other internet-connected devices.
Hackers can remotely change the coding in your webcam and take complete control of it. They can infect your devices with malware. And, creepiest of all, they can watch private videos that you've saved.
How to protect yourself:
Until Foscam corrects the firmware for the cameras themselves, right now the only thing you can do to protect yourself is unplug the camera from the internet.
However, this is a good time to point out how vulnerable the gadgets on your Wi-Fi network are. Protecting your whole network begins with increasing the security of your router. Click here for an easy way to tell if someone is logging into your internet, and here for a quick guide on securing your home router.
And, as always, keep reading Happening Now for additional updates. If Foscam issues patches to these security holes, we will let you know.