Russians hack 4,500 U.S. webcams

A Russian website has hacked into over 4,500 webcams in the U.S., exploiting simple passwords such as “12345.”

Overall, the site has links to the livestream of nearly 10,000 cameras in 250 countries.

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British officials sounded the alarm on Thursday, warning the public and saying they were working with the Federal Trade Commission to get the site shut down.

“The footage is being collected from security cameras used by businesses and members of the public, ranging from CCTV networks used to keep large premises secure, down to built-in cameras on baby monitors,” said Simon Rice, an official with the British Information Commissioner’s Office, the country’s privacy watchdog agency.

Administrators claiming to be behind the website said they aimed to raise awareness of the ubiquity of poor security measures.

“All these cameras were viewed by a lot of users and [the] camera's owners have no chance to know about it for many years," they said, according to media reports. "Only mass media can help users to understand the importance to set a password.”

If that’s the case, “now we all know and please will they take it down,” said UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, according to Newsweek.

Russian hackers more commonly make news in the U.S. for being suspected in cyberattacks on major retailers like Home Depot and government agencies as high up as the White House.

While those hacks can expose industrywide and governmentwide security shortcomings, this hacked webcam website reveals the public’s refusal to take password security seriously, said Rice.

For instance, he said, default password settings for various devices are widely available online.

“If you take only one security step when getting any new device, make sure it’s setting a strong password,” Rice said.