As far as the Internet goes, this could be the scariest ‘1984’-esque, invasion of privacy finding yet. Apparently ‘Shodan’, the under-the-radar search engine for the Internet of Things (which, FYI, is a network made up of Internet-connected devices) has a specific filter, which allows its users to browse and peek through at-risk webcams, meaning people could literally be sitting there watching you go about your business through your own webcam. Seriously.
The rather disturbing feature has been red-flagged in the tech industry by Ars Technica after its staff trialLed the camera search to see just what sort of imagery it would bring up. And what they saw is enough to make you throw your computer out of the window without a second thought.
Within a few moments, the team were met with videos of babies sleeping in their cribs broadcast via nanny cams and images captured from the security cameras in the vaults of banks. Also heavily featured during the organisation’s test of the feed were ‘kitchens, living rooms, garages, front gardens, back gardens, ski slopes, swimming pools colleges and cools, laboratories and cash desk cameras in stores’. Basically anywhere there’s a webcam, someone could be looking through it right at you. Yikes!
The whole thing sounds like something out of a creepy film, but how does it actually work?! In short, Shodan crawls the Internet looking for IP addresses with open ports that lack authentication or password barriers, and streams a video. It then takes a pic of what the webcam sees and moves on. Totally spooked? Yep, us too.
Right now, the only speedy solution is to put passwords on your webcams. The Internet of Things is said to be reviewing how to stop the wrong people from accessing its webcam feed but until that happens, we’ll be taking every precaution…