YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Cameras are everywhere – on our cell phones, computers and in security systems. But do you know who’s watching all those cameras?
The answer may shock you.
Security cameras help solve crimes and catch criminals, but they also record almost every second of our lives.
Dr. Adam Earnheardt, who teaches online safety and privacy classes at Youngstown State University, said if you are in a workplace, for example, you are giving up some of your privacy.
“When you are walking around in public, believe it or not, you are giving up some privacy just by walking into a store. That’s just the world we live in now,” Earnheardt said.
Security cameras are supposed to help keep private property safe, but a security flaw could mean that these cameras are anything but protected. WKBN 27 Investigates found hundreds of live cameras streaming on the internet and the owners had no idea.
A website out of Russia is gathering feeds from unprotected security cameras all across the world and broadcasting them online. Some of the locations are local. First News found one in a local bar.
Other locations are on private property, including inside the living rooms and kitchens of homes across the world.
When you buy a home camera system, you are supposed to secure it with a password. If you don’t, these camera feeds can be broadcasted online for anyone to see.
Earnheardt looked at the cameras available online and was shocked by what he could see.
“One that I was looking at this morning was actually looking right into someone’s living room,” he said. “There was nobody in the living room, thank God. But can you just imagine? There’s someone out there, 5 o’clock in the evening having dinner.”
Police said these cameras can create a huge danger. Burglars could use the GPS information they contain to use your own security system against you.
“Without securing your camera system, anyone can view it. They can pick up your habits, see what’s in your house, see what kind of security you have in your house, besides the camera, and they can use that against you,” said Youngstown Police Officer Michael Bodnar.
Eric Johnson, who works at Best Buy in Boardman, said it’s important to set up surveillance cameras correctly. He said, if you don’t know how to secure your new system, it’s a good idea to pay for a professional to do it.
“We can send them out and set the network up for you and secure it properly,” he said. “Make sure it’s encrypted so you don’t have any unwanted guests on there.”