Web Site Shows Feeds from Thousands of Private Webcams

Using Internet-connected devices without strong passwords is inherently risky, as illustrated by reports Thursday that a Russian Web site is showing live footage from thousands of people's webcams. The site provides feeds from thousands of cameras across numerous countries showing everything from a child's playroom in Ireland to offices and bedrooms in England.

The Web site's index lists more than 4,500 feeds in the U.S., as well as hundreds more from France, the Netherlands, Japan, Italy, the UK and Hong Kong. An introductory note on the home page notes that the site "is fully legal" as it provides access only to images from cameras without passwords.

"This site has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings," the Web site also added. "To remove your public camera from this site and make it private the only thing you need to do is to change your camera default password."

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office has asked Russian authorities to get the Web site taken down, the UK's Guardian reported, and also planned to work with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Calls and e-mails to the FTC were not returned before deadline.

'Not a New Attack'

We reached out to several IT security experts to learn more about the vulnerabilities in webcams and other consumer devices connected to the Internet.

"The thing I find most surprising is that the site administrator is claiming that providing the webcam feeds is a public service," said Stephen Checkoway, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University who has researched webcam vulnerabilities. "Pointing out security flaws is a very useful activity but violating the privacy of thousands of unsuspecting users is not the way to do it. It has been known for years that many webcams are publicly accessible over the Internet, often without the...

Comments are closed.