A garage. A yard. A dock with boats. A crib with a baby in a onesie lying in it. Those were just some of the images, apparently from Boston webcams, available Friday on a Russian-based website that has tapped into nonsecure video feeds from around the world.
The website said it had 4,591 video feeds from the United States and thousands of others from across the globe.
“This site has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings,” a notice said on the site, which was down at times Friday morning. The notice also proclaimed that the site was “fully legal.”
Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office has warned that the website gains access by using default login credentials, which are available online for thousands of cameras.
The ICO, an independent authority whose mission includes promoting data privacy, recommended that people change the default password and check security settings (turn off the “remote viewing” option if you do not need to look at the webcam via the Internet).
“As a last resort, you can always cover the lens if you don’t want to use the camera all of the time,” Simon Rice, group manager for technology, wrote in a blog item on the ICO’s site.
Rice noted that webcams are not the only devices that can be accessed remotely, recommending people take steps to secure the information on their laptops and tablets, and their information in the cloud.
“We all need to be aware of the threats that exist to our personal information. . . . If you don’t [take the basic steps suggested], then you’re leaving your information vulnerable and no one likes being watched by a stranger,” Rice wrote.