Mi-Cam Warning

No matter how much convenience technology can bring into our lives, it also can create certain security risks.  As Lisa Strohman, JD, Ph.D., founder and director of Digital Citizens Academy, an organization that works with schools and teachers to help kids foster healthy relationships with technology, recently told What to Expect: “If you have a video camera in your kids’ room, it can be hacked. There are bad people in the world who will do just that.” Now, a new report in Forbes is proving Strohman’s point. The site reports that Mi-Cam baby monitors were recently found to be vulnerable to simple attacks by hackers. An Austrian cybersecurity company called SEC Consult investigated the issue and has released a warning about the devices.

What Is the Concern?

In a YouTube video, SEC illustrates how a malicious hacker can bypass using a password on the Mi-Cam Android app. Instead, they set up a proxy server that can intercept and modify an HTTP request between the phone and the device.

And that’s just one way the monitor can be compromised by a hacker. Another concerning vulnerability: The firmware (the core software) has default root passwords that are “very week 4-digital default credentials,” the SEC research blog noted.

What Do Parents Need to Know?

SEC reportedly attempted to warn miSafes, the Chinese seller of the Mi-Cam, over the last few months, with no success. However, a company called QiWo Smartlink Technology has the rights to the technology behind the baby monitors. Forbes confirmed that QuiWo is responsible for updates, and a QuiWo spokesperson said they will contact SEC for details and fix the bug as soon as possible.

The Mi-Cam devices are still for sale (they’re particularly popular on Amazon), but are also out of production, according to the spokesperson.

In the meantime, SEC advises owners of the monitors to turn them off entirely. “From a security standpoint, it is not recommended to use those devices anymore until all security issues have been fixed and a thorough security audit has been performed,” they note in their report.

What Else Can Parents Do to Make Smart Tech Safer?

Toys and devices that require a connection to the Cloud, Bluetooth connectivity, mobile apps, software, coding or another form of artificial intelligence are everywhere, and they’re unavoidable. In July 2017, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center shared a release, stating that Internet-connected toys and devices can be compromised by hackers. In turn, they could obtain access to your address, children’s names and birthdates, kids’ photos and even phone conversations. 

Even with that being the case, many parents are shocked to discover how many smart toys are able to store and send personal data.

This doesn’t mean you have to swear off technology forever and live off the grid — but it’s prudent to be aware of the risks. Thankfully, you can take action to guard your family against a tech intrusion. “With any smart toy you have to ask yourself ‘What kind of data is flowing?'” Danelle Fisher, MD, FAAP, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California advised What To Expect in an earlier interview. She suggests reading the box and checking online forums to find out what exactly any smart tech you have — from baby monitors to toys — can do. You can also find out if the manufacturer is certified by one of these Federal Trade Commission-approved groups, which means they’ve verified that they protect children’s privacy.


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