Getting a baby monitor can bring a great and welcome difference in a mother’s nursing experience.It is very healthy when one doesn’t have to panic all the time, wondering how the child they left asleep is doing, especially if they are busy downstairs or when they leave the house for short errands.
Fully equipped monitors can give the user all-round updates, including the child’s voice and mood, movements, and sleeping position.
Some can even play recorded voice or music to the young one and let the mother sing to the baby remotely.
By providing such benefits, these devices eventually become indispensable to the user.
Also, if you were to observe American Academy Pediatrics’ warning that sharing beds with babies can raise the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, a baby monitor would become handy when a young one has his or her own room.
But over reliance on Baby monitors has also brought with it certain security concerns. Prime among these is the threat of baby monitor hacking.
The fear over hackers taking over the control of baby monitors isn’t irrational. Families in the past have reported bizarre sounds coming out of baby monitor speakers and scaring kids.
In one instance, a woman noticed her baby’s camera tracing her movements around the room “while throwing insults at her”.
In a public statement, the New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs warned parents that some baby monitors have security loopholes that hackers could use to access in-house networks and cause incidents like the ones in these reports.
What is Hacking?
In computing, hacking is an act where a person intentionally uses unauthorized means to access electronically transmitted communication.
Hacking tools can range from simple radio wave scanners to the more advanced computer programs. The skills required to hack different devices also vary.
Generally, the simpler the technology of a communication device is, the easier it is to hack.
Take AM and FM baby monitors for example. They do not possess the security features that are present in many internet-based gadgets.
For only a few dollars, one can buy and use a radio scanner even when they have low technical know-how.
This is not only limited to home devices.
Even criminals frequently hack into police communications systems to keep tabs of officers and know what they are up to.
Who Would Want to Pry on Your Baby?
You are not a celebrity.
You are not a politician.
You also have nothing strange going on in your house.
So who would want your baby monitor hacked and why?
This question usually comes up when debates concerning privacy issues arise. But there are many reasons why a secure baby monitor matters.
To begin with, unsecured baby monitors can provide a means for someone to cause havoc and confusion in your household.
Some people enjoy seeing others panic. A hacker may, for instance, scare your kids or talk to them without your permission.
In addition, there are curious people who would just like to know what is going on in other people’s lives.
They get literally everything from you when they have access to your baby monitor.
This can be quite scary, especially when you were holding a sensitive conversation with your partner and you suspect that someone else has listened to it.
But there are even bigger concerns: burglars have used baby monitors before to successfully evade homeowners and execute theft.
Ironically, some families have been able to stop thieves or catch them after successfully receiving tip-offs from their baby monitors.
In addition, there is fear that pedophiles and child traffickers could take advantage of these gadgets to track their victims.
Another concern is over censorship.
In a world where people are becoming less inclined to the idea of government censorship, a less secure baby monitor could be telling the authorities more about you than you think. And if you do have some “skeletons in your closet”, blackmailers may use that opportunity to take advantage of you.
Although it is true that unsecured baby monitors pose certain threats to household security, it is also fair to say that many people, especially in the media, tend to exaggerate this fear.
All devices that can transmit or receive communication from external gadgets face the threat of hacking. These include mobile phones, microwave, toys, CCTV cameras, and doorbells among others.
If you have one or more of these and you haven’t had to deal with hackers before, then the possibility that someone will penetrate your privacy using the baby monitor is just as low.
Some experts have also argued that, even if a stranger was to hack into your baby monitor with the intent of stealing or extracting certain information from you, the possibility of a false positive is high, especially in a large flat or estate where many people are using baby monitors.
Moreover, spying is time consuming, tedious, and can be costly. Few people would therefore be willing to hack your system just for fun. It is also true that high profile people such as celebrities and politicians face higher threats of hacking than the common person.
Even with that said, your security is still important. With simple precautions, you and your family can easily keep hackers away.
How to Make Baby Monitor Resistant to Hacking
If you feel like you need to protect your family from eavesdroppers, here are a few things that you can do to make your household communication gadgets and baby monitors more resistant to hacking:
Buy Password-Protected Baby Monitors
Many parents chose AM and FM baby monitors because they are cheaper than their internet-based counterparts are. These baby monitors are cheap because the technology that supports them is rather simple.
It’s not that they are bad. In fact, they would still be suitable in situations and places where the threat of hacking is low.
However, when privacy is a top priority, AM and FM gadgets wouldn’t be the best option of a baby-monitoring device.
They are not secured and, unless you have installed special radio wave blockers on your walls to prevent communications from spilling to the outside, anybody with enough patience and the right radio wave scanner can intercept conversations and other forms of communications inside your home.
The advanced, more secure choices are Bluetooth and internet enabled gadgets, since they tend to be more secure.
But you have to ensure that any Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled gadgets that you use have password protection feature to block out unauthorized devices from accessing them.
Many people live under the false assumption that their devices are safe even when they don’t take the necessary steps to tweak here and there.
Anybody, for example, can easily search for and find the default password that comes with a particular brand of baby monitor as this information is available online.
The first step that you should take after opening a brand new baby monitor is to replace the default password with your own.
Vulnerability in Bluetooth baby monitors is generally highest during the paring process. To be safe, identify the addresses of your camera, receiver device, speaker and any other gadget that you are pairing your baby monitor with to ensure that it only connects with correct devices only.
In addition, set your Bluetooth to be visible to paired devices to paired devices only.
For wifi connections, buy modern baby monitors and gadgets that have stronger encryption. A WPA or WPA2 encryption is enough to shield you from many threats.
In addition, set a stronger password. The password should not contain things that somebody can easily guess, like your name or the baby’s date of birth, as these are the most common things that hackers try out when attempting to crack passwords.
Other general precautions include warning family members against revealing personal information to outsiders, using a strong antivirus in your computer and mobile devices, and changing your passwords occasionally.
Other things to Consider when buying baby Monitors
Compatibility is ideal when buying baby monitors. Some people spend on these devices only to find that they are not compatible with their phones or network systems. It is important to talk to an expert to assess your needs before buying one.
Some websites provide the opportunity for users to chat with experts and ask them questions about baby monitors. These can really help, especially when you need to ask questions to do with how to secure your device.
A qualitative baby monitor also offers consistency and can serve you for long. People who have used various brands of baby monitors can be instrumental in this regard. Take time to look at various online baby monitor reviews to find what is best for you.
A secure, compatible, reliable and long-lasting baby monitor is what you need to make your nursing experience worthwhile.