NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Someone could be watching you inside your own home right now with a device you think is making your family safer. Nowadays security cameras, web cameras and crib cameras are part of everyday life, but what our investigation uncovered might have you thinking twice.
A 13News Now investigation found security cameras that are anything but secure. They are broadcasting live online for all the world to see. Anyone can view these camera feeds. It is difficult to find out who is watching you.
You check on your baby, through the crib-cam you installed, while she sleeps peacefully in her crib. You wanted to be able to keep an eye on your precious little one. But for Heather Schreck, what she heard while checking in would send chills down the spine of any parent.
"I heard a voice, and it was screaming at my daughter, 'Wake up baby! Wake up baby!'" she recalled.
Schreck says someone used an Internet "back door" to take control of the camera.
"Some of these are just being broadcast over the open Internet, said cyber forensic expert Patrick Siewert of Prodigital Forensic Consulting. "They're available for anyone to see."
We scoured the web with Siewert, but we didn't have to look long to find video from cameras right here in Hampton Roads.
"I think the name is kind of misleading sometimes," he described. "They're called 'security cameras' and some of them just aren't secure!"
A simple Google search gets us information.
"On this particular website, it pulls up cities from all over the world," Siewert explained.
We find cameras streaming video you might not want the world to see.
"At the top it says, 'View camera in Virginia, Norfolk,'" Siewert showed us. "You can see it's a live feed. It's got today's date and the time. This is somebody's driveway. That's somebody's front door. That's a business."
But that's not all. In some cases, not only can we view the camera feed, we can move the camera remotely.
"So the remote controls for this camera come up along with the feed," Siewert told us as he moved the camera view from the hallway to a doorway with the click of a mouse.
It's frightening to think about. Keep in mind Seiwert is not a hacker; we haven't used any codes or special equipment to do this.
"The websites will scan for IP addresses sharing live video feed in any number of formats and just access it and broadcast it," Siewert said.
Laura Geller: "So anyone can look at it?"
Patrick Siewert: "Yes."
Laura Geller: "I don't have to have any sort of computer knowledge to see the camera in someone's home?"Patrick: "Not at all."
We asked Siewert what you can do to make sure no one can watch the camera in your home.
"They just need to know when you buy one of these cameras you have to put your own security in place," he advised. "You can't trust that the manufacturer you're buying it from has already done it for you."
You should avoid the so-called "plug-and-play."
"You've got to go through the setup procedures for the camera and make sure you put it a strong log in and password, so it can't be accessed over the open Internet," Siewert added.
While extra steps like manual installation, not connecting the device to your cell network or public Wi-Fi accounts and not storing footage online may take more time, it will also make your security camera, actually secure.
"Why would you want to give somebody the opportunity?" Siewert warned. "This is like having your front door there with maybe just the little chain on it. There's not a lot of security here. It's pretty scary; you're essentially letting the entire Internet in your home!"
13News Now did try to locate and contact the owners of the cameras we were able to view. We, of course, will update you with that part of the story as it unfolds.