Manufacturers are warning that video surveillance systems commonly installed in businesses and family households are highly vulnerable to hacking if users do not adopt greater precautions with respect to password security.
The warnings come just after hackers managed to obtain illicit access to thousands of CCTV systems around the globe and live-stream their footage online via a Russia-based website.
The site streamed footage from businesses and private homes in over 250 countries and regions, with its database displaying listings for a total of 4,591 cameras in the US, 2,059 in France, and 1,576 in the Netherlands.
According to manufacturers of CCTV devices, a big part of the reason why hackers were capable of accessing so many surveillance systems around the world with comparative ease was the failure of owners or users to take greater pains when it came to password security.
The devices were not actually “hacked” in the conventional sense – the hackers simply used search tools to scour the web for devices whose default settings had not been altered, and could thus be more readily accessed.
The website broadcasting the live feeds listed them by both country of origin and device manufacturer, with China’s Foscam the most frequently named brand, alongside Linksys and Panasonic.
Linksys has since advised users to take greater precautions with password security, and most importantly of all, to change the default settings for passwords immediately following the purchase of camera devices.
“We do not have a way to force customers to change their default passwords,” said a Linksys spokesperson. “We will continue to educate consumers that changing default passwords is extremely important to protect themselves from unwanted intruders.
“Our newer cameras display a warning to users who have not changed the default password: users receive this warning whenever they log into the camera, until they set a new password.”
Panasonic echoed Linksys’s warnings, indicating that it too had adopted measures to encourage users to alter their passwords.
“Every time a user logs on to our system, they are prompted to change their default password,” said Panasonic security executive Sean Taylor. “We would urge all users to change passwords regularly, in order to maintain the integrity of the system.”