Baby Monitors Vulnerable to Hacking

March 29, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. hacking / ˈhæk ɪŋ / (n.) – the act of getting files or information illegally on a person’s computer or device
Example: He was arrested for hacking the senator’s email to get confidential information.

2. surveillance device 
/ sərˈveɪ ləns dɪˈvaɪs / (n.) – an object used to detect or watch something
Example: The politician’s house has surveillance devices such as security cameras and an alarm system. 

3. keep an eye on (something) /ˈkiːp ən ˈaɪ ɑːn/ (idiom) – to watch something carefully
Example: Parents try to always keep an eye on their young children.

4. unauthorized /ˌʌnˈɑːθəˌraɪzd / (adj.) – referring to a person or an action that has not been given permission
Example: Skilled hackers gain unauthorized access to websites and personal accounts.

5. precaution / prɪˈkɔ ʃən / (n.) – something done in advance to prevent future trouble or harm
Example: Childproofing furniture is one precaution all parents should take.


Read the text below.
Baby monitor hacking is joining the long list of Internet crimes.

Baby monitors are surveillance devices that are supposed to help parents keep an eye on their children from afar. Recent models usually feature a camera, which sends videos to a receiver with a portable screen. Some also allow parents to hear and speak to their children. These are usually connected to the Internet and allow access from a distance. However, these models are vulnerable to unauthorized access.

New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs (NYC-DCA) issued a warning urging parents to make sure that their baby monitors are secured. Parents from the United States have told stories of hackers scaring their children by talking to them through the device. There have also been reports of baby cameras being used to spy on households.

As a response to these complaints, Rapid7, a firm specializing in data security, tested nine widely-used baby monitors. Results showed that all of them were not secure, with eight scoring a failing mark, and one just barely passing.

Among problems found are unchangeable default passwords which can be easily guessed or found in manuals. Another is the lack of additional security measures in the data transferred by the monitors, or the applications used in controlling the devices.

The NYC-DCA is now investigating the matter. The department is reminding the public to take precautions in using baby monitors. Consumers must look into the reliability of the monitor brands that they will purchase. Users should also keep the devices’ software up-to-date.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you think hacking incidents would affect a toddler’s development? Explain your answer.
·         What are the possible safer alternatives to using baby monitors? Give examples.

Discussion B

·         After knowing the security risks of baby monitors, do you think people will still use them? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, which do people value more — affordability or quality? Why?

March 29, 2016