The Hacking Economy

Russian webcam hackers spy on bedrooms and offices

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A Russian website has been discovered streaming live footage from thousands of private webcams, CCTV systems and even baby monitors from around the globe.

The website is live-streaming footage from over 250 countries collected from security cameras used by businesses and members of the public.

Feeds from countries around the world showed a variety of public and private locations, from offices, shops and sidewalks to more intimate footage of bedrooms including children's rooms, living rooms and kitchens and even pets like dogs and goldfish.

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The site has managed to accessthe cameras because they are still set at their default passwords – details of which can be found online.

Among the dozens of countries on the site, the website lists 4,591 feeds from the U.S., 2,058 from France and 584 from the U.K. as well as 563 from Hong Kong and 182 from China.

As David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab in the U.K., said, any device that was connected to the internet could be compromised by sites like the Russian one.

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"This includes devices that connect via a home router, such as baby monitors or webcams. It also includes mobile devices too, " Emm said, commenting on the discovery of the website in a note.

"The fact that a website is able to stream footage from thousands of cameras, illustrates the risks that consumers are taking by not changing the default passwords on camera enabled devices. It only takes a minute to change a password, and the longer it is left unchanged, the greater the chance that the device will be compromised.

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"Our research has shown that two-thirds of us are unaware that cybercriminals can use malicious software to take over our mobile device camera," he added.

Simon Rice, group manager for Technology at theInformation Commissioner's Office, said in a blog on Thursday that "with 350,000 of these cameras sold in the U.K. alone last year, this is a threat that all of us need to be aware of and be taking action to protect against."

"If you take only one security step when getting any new device, make sure it's setting a strong password," he wrote.

"We all need to be aware of the threats that exist to ourpersonal information. The basic steps covered in this blog are one's all of usshould be taking as a matter of routine. If you don't, then you're leaving yourinformation vulnerable and no one likes being watched by a stranger."

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt and Arjun Kharpal, follow them on Twitter @HollyEllyatt and @ArjunKharpal.

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