Web cam of Houston children's bedroom hacked

By Samantha Ptashkin - Reporter

HOUSTON - A Houston mother has a warning for any parent who uses surveillance cameras in their house, after a live stream of her daughters’ bedroom ended up online.

The mother says she installed the cameras throughout her house about four years ago to keep an eye on her now 8-year-old twin daughters and her 6-year-old daughter.

This week, a woman from Oregon was using the app “Live Camera Viewer” and spotted a live stream of the twins’ bedroom. The Oregon woman posted it on a Houston Facebook page in an effort to alert the parents.

It didn’t take long for the Houston mother to find out her daughters’ pink room was on display for the entire world to see.

“I have cameras to protect my kids and I kind of feel like we failed them,” the mother said. “We didn’t protect them. We actually put them in harm’s way.”

She immediately turned off the camera system, but she has no clue how many people viewed the live stream of her daughter’s room, or for how long it was up online.

She believes someone hacked into her system as her daughters played a video game.

“Never did I dream that they would be getting into our camera system, into our internet,” the mother said.

University of Houston IT expert Mary Dickerson says unfortunately it’s quite common.

“If you don’t change the default password settings, they’re the same for everyone who bought one of those devices,” Dickerson said. “That means there are thousands of people around the world who know what you user ID and password is.”

She says the best thing you can do is to make sure you have a secure password that is only accessible to members of your household. She also recommends parents cover up their home cameras if they’re not using them to watch over their children.

The family has since shut down their camera system. They plan to reconfigure all of their passwords before turning it back on. And they hope after seeing this story that other web cam users will do the same.

It has the pink innocence of any little girl's room and never in a million years did the 8-year-old twins who sleep and play there know they were being watched.

"I mean people are watching what they do 24/7 and who knows who's watching it?" said their mother, who doesn't wish to show her face to protect their identities.

She said she wanted to keep an eye on her girls so she installed a camera in their room.

"We obviously took as much security as possible. You know, the best system we could get," she said.

But a recent discovery on an app called Live Camera Viewer shattered her sense of security.

"Never did I dream that they would be going back into our camera system, into our internet," the mom said.

She said a woman from Oregon who was using the app noticed a live view of the twins' room in Houston.

As a warning, the woman then posted a screen shot to Facebook. It didn't take long for the mother to realize it was her house.

"I have cameras to protect my kids and I kind of feel like we failed them. We didn't protect them. We actually put them in harm's way," she said.

She believes a hacker got into their system while the girls played a video game. This is something University of Houston IT expert Mary Dickerson said happens all too often.

"If you don't change the default settings, then the same way they came from the manufacturer for everyone who bought one of those devices. Which means there are thousands of people around the world who know what that user ID and password is," Dickerson said.

Besides changing the default log-in settings to your system Dickerson recommends covering cameras if you're not home and not using them.
 

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