How to stop ‘Big brother’ watching you.
You think no one is watching...
Many people love reality shows like Big Brother and The Real Housewives series, watching the everyday, drama packed, lives of people who have signed up to be exposed, pretending to be oblivious to the numerous cameras that follow their every move. The very thought of being on that side of the camera while an audience scrutinizes what you do is unimaginable to most of us who are only too happy to walk around the house stark naked, eat with mouth gaping and loud noises, dance and jiggle in strange uncoordinated ways, sleep, fight, bathe, and all the thousand and one things we do in the privacy of the indoors where the walls and blinds shields us from the outside world and spares us a blush or two.
But someone might be seeing it all...
How horrifying, then, is the thought of being watched day in day out in your home (your sanctuary from the world) by complete strangers who, more often than not, live in places as far as Moscow and China and have the power to broadcast to the world what you do in ‘secret.’ Not likely you say? You would be utterly wrong. This is the age of the internet of things where gadgets are either smart (work remotely via the internet) or obsolete. There is hardly a computer without a camera and Home security is on the upsurge with cameras installed in as many parts of the home as possible so one can monitor one’s home whether you are in or out. This is mainly to guard against intruders that may otherwise break in and make away with our belongings, or commit whatever crime against us and hope to go scot-free. Yes, that puts us one step ahead of those with such intentions but we are actually aiding another (perhaps even more dangerous) group of mischief makers that lurk in the shadows, faceless and sometimes untraceable.
Watcing your every move...
They gain access mainly via a weak password and take control of the camera, watching your every move from the comfort of their lair and consequently you and your family become ‘stars’ in your very own ‘Big brother’ show. A recent example of this is an incident in Houston in which a mother found out that her eight year old daughter’s room was being watched remotely. Her wifi password was secure but they hackers had gained access by the girl’s game console after she had gone online to find a generic password to enable her play the game Minecraft.
Disturbingly, by leaking these videos, these criminals make it easy for blackmailers, pedophiles and sex offenders to also gain access. Burglars can now monitor you to know when the house is most vulnerable. Sometimes the intent is not criminal. There are sites like Shodan.io that allows anyone to search for any cameras in the world which are not well protected. These also leave you exposed and susceptible to an intrusion.
Time to stop them...
There are a number of ways to know if you have been breached. The signs to watch out for are:
- Your camera ‘has a life of its own’ and follows you around or rotates in an unusual manner. Someone likely has control of the pan-tilt movement of the camera and is watching.
- Strange sounds or voices coming from the camera. There are a number of horror stories out there in which the victims have heard sounds coming from their cameras and baby monitors only to find out that they have been hacked and are being watched.
- Your camera is switched on when it should be off. Many cameras have an LED power on indicator light. If you know you turned the camera off but see the light which indicates that it is on there is a likelihood someone has remote access.
So what can you do?
Thankfully the majority of intrusions and video leaks happen not because the attackers are that good but because the victims have a weak defence in place. So it is really in your hands to keep these scoundrels out.
- As a rule get your home security from a trusted company, one that you have researched thoroughly.
- Do not use the default passwords for your devices. They are not safe. The odds of someone else having that same password are high. Change them soon as they are installed.
- Make your passwords as complicated as possible – on all your devices. They should be ten or more characters long, with a good mix of capital letters, small letters, numbers and special characters like ‘!, @, #, $’
- Do not use the same password for multiple accesses. It goes without saying that when one is breached, as many that use the same password is fair game.
- Change your password often. That way you are always a step ahead of the hackers.
- Set your cameras so that only YOUR devices can have access to it.
In the end nothing is a hundred percent secure but by taking these measures you vastly reduce the risk of being a victim. You will be making sure that in your ‘Big Brother’ show, the stars and the audience are the same – you and your family only.