A child playing in Bucheon, South Korea. An empty crib in Absecon, New Jersey. Cattle feeding in Behamberg, Austria. Footage from more than 100 countries is being streamed from bedrooms, office buildings, shops, laundromats, stables and barns.
Experts have a message for anyone with a webcam, baby monitor or home security camera: change your password now, because feeds from the cameras are being posted online by a Russian website.
The site takes advantage of the fact that camera users receive default passwords to get devices working — such as "1234." Many manufacturers also put default passwords online, Britain's Information Commissioner's Office said Thursday.
"The ability to access footage remotely is both an internet camera's biggest selling point and, if not set up correctly, potentially its biggest security weakness," Simon Rice, the ICO group manager for technology, said in a statement. "Remember, if you can access your video footage over the internet, then what is stopping someone else from doing the same?"
The ICO is joining with its counterparts in the United States, China, Australia and Canada in warning consumers about the Russian site, which offers live streams together with the coordinates of where the cameras are located. Officials declined to publicly identify the site for fear of driving traffic to it.
Authorities say they have no jurisdiction in Russia, so it is simpler to warn people about the site than it is to try to take the site down.
"I will do what I can but don't wait for me to have sorted this out," Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said. "The action is in your own hands if you have one of these pieces of kit."