How Russian Website Is Spying on Thousands of Private Moments

Footage of babies sleeping, people relaxing at home being streamed online.

ByABC News
November 20, 2014, 10:39 AM

— -- A baby is seen sleeping in a crib in Orange, California. A woman is watched as she sits at her kitchen table reading the newspaper in Burlington, New Jersey. An office in Plano, Texas, is shown just as the work day begins.

They're all scenes from the 4,591 webcams in the United States that are being broadcast on a Russian website. The cameras haven't been hacked. They're simply unsecured, making them easy targets for the Moscow-based website, which ABC News has visited but will not name out of concern for users' privacy.

Footage from more than 100 countries, showing living rooms, home exteriors and closed circuit cameras in businesses, among other locations, is easily viewable. The website even takes it further by providing the exact coordinates of each web cam.

A message on the website's homepage said it "has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings."

"To remove your public camera from this site and make it private the only thing you need to do is to change your camera default password," the message reads.

While it was not immediately clear what could be done to shut down the website, it has caught the attention of watchdogs in the United Kingdom who said they were joining agencies in the United States, Australia and Canada, among others, to issue a warning to consumers.

Robert Siciliano, a McAfee identity theft expert, told ABC News users with webcams need to be vigilant about changing the username and password once they're installed.

"The users of these devices often use the default user name and password that comes with the device," Siciliano said. "Criminals know this and scan the web for these networks and cameras and then they get full access to it."

Aside from choosing a secure password, Siciliano said he encourages people to make sure their software is always up to date so hackers can not exploit any potential flaws and making sure their home and office Wi-Fi is encrypted.