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Cybersecurity

Chinese official media warns of rampant hacking of home surveillance cameras

Hacking software is sold cheaply online, and sellers often provide hundreds of IP addresses at online chat rooms

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 6:41pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 6:41pm

Users of online surveillance cameras in China could find their own lives coming under uninvited scrutiny as the technology is vulnerable to hackers, state media has warned.

Scanning software that costs only 188 yuan (US$28) online is just one of the tools that enable any user to bypass security of online cameras that are popular with Chinese families to keep an eye on pets and old people staying at home, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

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With IP addresses attached to every internet-enabled gadget, virtually anyone could easily access online cameras as often as they want, the report said.

And to attract customers, software sellers often provide hundreds of IP addressed in their online chat groups, it said.

Cybersecurity experts said surveillance cameras used to monitor traffic and other aspects of urban management were also vulnerable to hackers if users failed to create sufficiently strong passwords for their devices and online accounts.

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Such cameras and their software have often raised privacy concerns, and legal experts warned that it was a criminal offence to use illegal technology to invade personal space, and that violators face up to three years in prison under Chinese law.

Experts advised that users of online cameras should change passwords regularly, and the cameras should not be placed in bathrooms or bedrooms for privacy concerns.