Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Abigail Lootens
Department of Consumer Affairs  
(212) 436-0042

Consumer Alert: Consumer Affairs Warns Parents to Secure Video Baby Monitors

NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today warned parents to take the necessary steps to ensure that their internet-connected baby monitors are not vulnerable to privacy or security risks.

“Video monitors are intended to give parents peace of mind when they are away from their children but the reality is quite terrifying—if they aren’t secure, they can provide easy access for predators to watch and even speak to our children,” said DCA Commissioner Julie Menin. “There have been numerous reports by consumers, including those here in New York City, that these video monitors have subjected them to unwanted intrusions into the most private of spaces: their own homes. Internet-connected devices like video monitors provide convenience but without proper safeguards, they pose serious privacy risks. We encourage parents to take steps to make sure their devices are secure and call on manufacturers to make security a top priority.”

DCA recommends parents take these key steps to ensure their Internet-connected baby monitors are safe:

  • Buy a secure device. Before buying an Internet-connected video monitor, research if it or its applications have any known security vulnerabilities.
  • Use a strong password and change it regularly. Never use the default camera name and password; select a strong password with a combination of letters, numbers and characters that is difficult for others to guess and only share it with people you trust. Don’t use the same password you use for other accounts so that if one account is compromised, they are not all compromised. Also, when naming your WiFi network, avoid using personal information. If you name it Smith4A, it’s easy for attackers to figure out the network belongs to the Smiths in Apartment 4A.
  • Register your product and update software, firmware and applications. Register your product so you will be notified of security updates by the manufacturer and install all security updates.
  • Turn devices off. If you are not using the device, turn it off. Hackers can access devices more easily if they are always on.

The consumer warning comes as DCA issues subpoenas to several major manufacturers of video monitors that market their devices as secure. DCA is investigating whether the companies have corrected known security vulnerabilities with their devices and whether their security claims violate NYC’s Consumer Protection Law, which prohibits deceptive and misleading advertising. DCA’s actions follow the disclosure by cybersecurity researchers that many of the top-selling Internet-connected baby monitors, which are often marketed as secure, are easily exploited by hackers. Some of those hackers have created websites that stream footage from unsecure Internet-connected video monitors.

DCA encourages New York City residents who have had their monitor hacked to file a complaint online at or by calling 311. Include in your complaint the New York City business where you purchased the monitor.

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses, inspects, and educates businesses, assists and informs consumers, mediates complaints, and offers free financial counseling and safe banking products. DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law, the Paid Sick Leave Law and other related business laws throughout New York City and licenses nearly 80,000 businesses in 55 different industries. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.