Adult webcam with strangers
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. "This was launched in August 2015 and the various sources for screenshots have expanded since then — one of those recent additions is for webcams." Matherly calls Shodan the first search engine for the Internet of Things, pulling in data from anything connected to the Web.
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. The site has been used for, among other things, studying the popularity of HBO Go on Roku and producing a global map of industrial control systems, Matherly said.
For example, the FTC could mandate that webcam makers ship cameras that require users to set their own login credentials, rather than allowing default usernames and passwords to be applied.
"Can the regulator make the good thing easier and the wrong — risky thing — harder?
But, creepiness aside, are there actual risks associated with, say, someone in a remote location tuning in to a baby monitor?
"When you think about the real-world risks, you have to reach pretty far to find something that would be genuinely bad," said Anton Chuvakin, security and risk management researcher at Gartner.
If yes, then sure, that's good regulation," said Chuvakin.
I did notice that everyone shown in the store was white.
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"Note that the granularity of the physical location is extremely rough: it can tell you in which city/country it is located but it isn't possible to pinpoint the exact physical location." However, each webcam screenshot is paired with a map, and in rural areas where there are fewer houses, it doesn't seem like it would be hard to find an actual location.
Of course, hackers don't need Shodan to access unprotected webcams, or hack into poorly protected devices.
"People never change their router's wireless password — it's a rarity," said Trend Micro chief cybersecurity officer Tom Kellermann.