Hack-Proofing Your Baby Monitor

Baby Monitor Hacking

Today’s parents have many luxuries that were not imaginable only a few generations ago. One innovation that has become a necessity to new parents is the baby monitor. Modern baby monitors allow parents to monitor their kids from almost anywhere in the house, enabling them to get things done while their little one is sleeping or playing in another room. Early baby monitors used analog radio frequencies for transmission, similar to cordless phones and other consumer electronics. Nowadays baby monitors have become more complex, using digital radio signals or even WIFI connections to the Internet. You can even find baby monitors that allow 2-way transmission and video monitoring.

Unfortunately, security is often an afterthought in many baby monitor systems. Companies often leave it up to the consumer to properly configure the security settings. Hackers, and other unauthorized eavesdroppers, that are able to gain access to the baby monitor can perform a variety of malicious actions, from snooping in on the video being transmitted from the baby monitor, to listening in on what is being said throughout your home, and even communicating to your children using the 2-way communication feature.

In fact, there was just a report on my local news channel, a few days ago, about a baby monitor being hacked. The family’s 3-year-old told his parents that someone was talking to him through the monitor. An older news report told of a hacker calling a younger baby by name, because the monitor could see the child’s name in block letters on the wall. Scary stuff!
Baby with Monitor

Ways to Hack-Proof Your Baby Monitor

Here are some ways to hack-proof your baby monitor in order to ensure privacy within your home:

  1. When purchasing a baby monitor, look for one that uses the newer “Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications” standard, also known as DECT. This standard provides a better level of privacy by encrypting the transmission, making it much more difficult for nearby snoopers to eavesdrop on your family.
  2. Buy a baby monitor that includes “Frequency Hopping”. With this technology, the transmitter and receiver components of the baby monitor system rapidly and automatically switch radio frequencies, making it difficult for anyone to eavesdrop on the transmission without a great deal of effort. This feature is especially important if you are using an older baby monitor that operates in the 900 Mhz frequency.
  3. If your baby monitor system is Internet Enabled, meaning it’s connected to your Wi-Fi router and accessible from a smartphone or computer, make sure you follow secure configuration practices such as:
    • Create a long and strong password, and do not share the password with anyone.
    • Change your password on a regular basis.
    • Make sure you keep your baby monitor’s software up to date. Check the vendor’s website often for new updates to the software running on your baby monitor.
    • Secure your Wi-Fi router with WPA2 and a strong password. Don’t share your Wi-Fi password with neighbors.
  4. Consider turning the baby monitor off when it’s not in use. Aside from saving electricity, you’ll also be decreasing the chances of someone listening in on your family if they are somehow able to access the baby monitor.

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