A niche search engine called Shodan has become a real threat to peoples’ privacy, reports Ars Technica. Shodan has been around since 2009, but recently developed the ability to search for non-password-protected webcams.
Shodan was originally developed as a search engine for finding vulnerabilities and insecurities in internet connected devices. Having developed the ability to view vulnerable internet connected cameras, the company has gone all in with branding itself as “the search engine for webcams.”
Users of the site can now view anything from baby monitoring cams, household security cams, outdoor security cams, cameras in retail stores and offices — basically any webcam that hasn’t been secured with a strong password.
Despite the obvious criticism you’d expect from this sort of invasion of privacy, arguments in favor of the search engine suggest Shodan is only exposing weaknesses that already exist. The alleged aim of the search engine is to show people how poor internet security has become. However, that doesn’t explain why Shodan is trying to profit off people with voyeuristic intentions — charging a $49 fee to access the webcam feed.
Just as much at fault here are the webcams that ship with an easy to guess password (like “123456”), or sometimes even no password at all. While some companies, like Google, offer webcams with security measures in place, many of the low-end models offer its users little-to-no security.
A proposed solution from Ars Technica would be to have a government body develop a rating system for the security of devices, similar to the safety ratings that exist for cars. This would help consumers make more informed purchase decisions, but such a solution is not likely to be available any time soon.
Hopefully this opens consumers’ eyes to making more informed purchases on their own without the assistance of a rating system. The bottom line is, be more careful about the internet connected webcams you’re allowing into your home. At the very least, change the default password to something that can’t be easily guessed.
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