Webcam hackers: What you need to know

A Good Morning Britain investigation has discovered strangers spying on your children at their schools, in your homes and in their beds through accessible camera feeds on a scale never seen before.

Our investigation found more than 100,000 British devices are vulnerable to be accessed in this peeping tom epidemic.Our team were able to watch families in their own homes; we viewed live footage of a pensioner sitting in her living room, the inside of a child's bedroom, footage of children playing in a primary school playground and people in a health centre waiting room. None of the people who could be seen in these live streams were aware they were being watched online.

Charlotte Hawkins' baby monitor gets hacked

We also found that once cameras had been accessed by hackers they were open to IP trolling. This is where hackers take control of the cameras speakers and can speak to people to harass or verbally abuse them. We found evidence of this happening to an adult and child in the UK.

Shockingly, the GMB investigation also discovered that from accessing peoples cameras they could get information about the camera owners home address. A member of the team went to some of these addresses to notify them of the security breach and the cameras were shut down.

How to protect yourself from hackers

  • If you need to be able to access your webcam while you're not at home, make sure it asks you for a password. Don't use anything that doesn't allow you to set a password.

  • When choosing a password for accessing your camera, either on your browser or in an app, choose a long password that is like a sentence. e.g. "My dog has a blue nose". If it won't let you use spaces, then make it all one word. It might ask you to use numbers and symbols too.

  • Keep your computer up to date, and make sure it it has anti-virus software. Hackers will try and access the webcam built into your laptop, you can help prevent this by installing updates from Microsoft, Apple and for other software like Adobe and Java. However, devious hackers may try and trick you into downloading fake updates that actually give them access to your computer. Make sure you go to the manufacturer's website to ensure that you are downloading it from a safe place.

  • Keep your mobile phones and tablets up to date too. Hackers are increasingly targeting phones and tablets and will try and take control of the camera.

  • Be careful with email. Hackers will try and use 'phishing' emails to take control of your computer and access the webcam. They will send emails that look legitimate, such as an email telling you that you missed an Amazon parcel delivery, or that you need to login to your bank account. Always check the email address of who has sent you the email (click Reply and see where the email is going). This isn't full proof though, so if in any doubt, delete it. Don't click links inside emails that you are not expecting, and especially don't open any attachments you aren't expecting.

  • If in doubt, don't use a webcam that can be accessed when you're out of the house, and stick something over your laptop's webcam lens when you're not using it. Some even have a privacy shield that you can slide across when not in use.

  • There is further advice available at Cyber Street Wise website

With thanks First Base Technologies LLP