Hacking your home: The dangers of unsecured technology in ND

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Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) Safety, It’s something most of us feel living in our community.

But it’s possible that someone, somewhere you’ve never heard of, could be looking inside your home all thanks to everyday technology.

Some cyber attacks have direct targets, others are random.

And with our region being known as one of the worst for not securing our technology those attacks could hit us.

From the toys she plays with to any other part of her life Richard and Tracy Anderson always make sure their baby girl is safe.

“You legitimately would do anything for your kids,” said Richard Anderson, parent.

amy Unrau: That made the decision pretty easy when it came to getting a baby monitor with a camera.

“I just wanted to know what she’s actually doing, just to know if she’s crying and she’s actually sleeping,” said Traci Anderson, parent.

But protecting your child, could actually be bringing in harm from the world wide web.

According to security firm Protection 1, North Dakota was number one on the list for most unsecured cameras, which can include baby monitors, home security or even your webcam. They found more than seven cameras per 100,000 people are easy targets.

To show just how dangerous your personal cameras can be, the Andersons let us set up our own baby monitor.

Using a Philips brand camera that connects to wifi we’re going to hack it.

That’s where security expert Dan Workin, with Northstar Technology Group and Dakota Cloud Networks, comes in. He’s what’s called a “white hat” hacker, someone who knows knows everything the malicious hackers do, but uses his knowledge ethically to protect people and businesses.

“A lot of people think, ‘I’m not special, nobody’s going to be targeting me,” said Workin.

But Dan says they don’t have to be after you.

“A lot of the attacks that are happening are automated, and people form other countries or even this country are just scanning the internet, looking for the baby camera that’s open.”

So when we sat down to do the hack, within a matter of moments, Dan was able to get into the camera system recording Richard and Tracy’s daughter taking a nap.

“It’s just so creepy! Who knows what’s happening, if your little one is getting their diaper changed, they could watch or if you’re nursing your baby, they could watch,” said Traci Anderson.

While it’s a scary virtual reality for mom and dad, the threat doesn’t stop there.

“Getting into the baby camera might not be the end goal,” said Dan Anderson. “They might have just used that as a way to get into your network. Once they have control of the baby camera, since its just a really small computer, they can use it to attack the other machines on your network, like your desktop and laptop and cell phone, then they might be able to get your credit card information.”

So if you want to protect yourself from hackers, shutting down access is actually quite simple.

“Just don’t leave the hole open for the attack.”

Dan says set up strong passwords for your internet and anything in your home that connects to it, make sure your technology doesn’t have built in backup passwords and always run your updates.

“Nothing is probably going to completely protect you, but what happens is once you shut those things off, you immediately become less interesting to a hacker from across the internet,” said Dan Anderson.

Good advice that Richard and Tracy say will make them not only monitor the technology that’s on their home page, but also what’s in their home to make sure everything, and everyone, is safe.

“It can happen to anybody, no matter how secure you think you are,” said Richard Anderson.

Even if you take the necessary steps to protect yourself you may want to take a note from FBI Director James Comey.

He says he still puts tape over his webcam.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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