Spying on strangers through their own webcams is now easier than ever.
Shodan — a company that describes itself as a search engine for Internet-connected devices — launched a tool last year that lets users access publicly available webcams all over the world. Recently, the company added freeze-framed images from those webcams, making browsing through people's public and private lives as easy as clicking through a Netflix catalog.
An American toddler in daycare? Check. Sleeping couch potato in Hong Kong? You got it. Or perhaps you're into a specific street corner in Guangzhou China? Plus who knows what else. Full access to over 1,000 webcams — pointed at public and private spaces around the world — requires a one-time membership fee of $49.
Of course, tech-savvy spies have always been able to tap into unsecured webcams or hack into poorly protected devices, but the new feature on Shodan makes it easier than ever for anyone to browse a library of webcams that have not been password protected.
"Shodan has started to grab screenshots for various services where the existing text information didn't provide much information," founder John Matherly wrote in an email. "This was launched in August 2015 and the various sources for screenshots have expanded since then — one of those recent additions is for webcams."