Wi-Fi Worries: how to keep hackers away

MASON CITY, Iowa – Keeping your personal information safe in the digital age isn’t always easy.

But what if hackers, were able to see your family including your child? Well an Ohio couple learned that the hard way. They were using a ‘IP camera’ to monitor their child, and hackers were actually able to access that camera and gain control of it, even using the speaker to yell obscenities at a sleeping child.

So how safe are Wi-Fi connected baby monitors? We checked with some experts and also local parents.

“It only has to happen once for it to become scary.” New mom Betsy Kirby and her husband did some research before purchasing a baby monitor for their 3 week old son Jude. They even considered a Wi-Fi connected monitor.

“You know, we like to have a life outside of the baby and to leave and be able to check on him would have been really nice,” explains Kirby.

She knew she wanted to be able to see and hear him, but in the end decided an internet connected system was too much of a risk.

“We read one too many bad reviews about the possibility of hacking into it and so that’s really what drove us away,” she adds.

Which is why they chose a model that doesn’t use a Wi-Fi connection, but plenty of other new parents are choosing internet connected monitors.

So how sure should parents be that they’re the only one’s checking in on their children.

“It’s important to understand that anytime you’re plugged into a Wi-Fi or any kind of internet connection, there is going to be risk.”

Jason Bultje is a Geek Squad Supervisor, he sells home monitoring systems that are sometimes used as baby monitors.

He says even though the systems are connected to home Wi-Fi – they’re fairly safe.

“In order to break into someone’s actual home password protected Wi-Fi network, find the camera, look through it without anybody knowing, takes a level of computer competency that pretty rare,” says Bultje.

There are some extra steps folks can take to make sure their home Wi-Fi connections is more secure, like making sure you’re going to trust-worthy websites and having basic virus protection.

Even with those extra steps, Betsy says she’d rather stick to the old fashioned way of making sure her son is safe when she’s not around.

“If we have really trust worthy babysitters, there’s really no need to check up on him.”

Another tip to make sure your home Wi-Fi is as secure as possible is to have a unique password, the more random, the better. Jason also says changing the password about every 6 months will help to keep hackers away.

Experts also say, that having a secure home connection is important.

Especially because of a new trend called “wardriving”

That’s where hackers drive around looking for homes with weak wireless security.

If all those examples aren’t enough, there’s also hackers looking to steal you personal information when you’re shopping.

One of the most recent, large scale examples of that happening was at Target.

Since that major data breach late last year, more consumers, are more aware.

We spoke with a small business owner who uses a credit card reader.

It connects to a smart phone or smart device like a tablet.

He says a lot of his customers ask about how secure it is, especially since it has to have a Wi-Fi connection to work.

He says the device, called a “square” is safe as long as there’s a secure network.

“We put a lot of security on our Wi-Fi and everything but I think as far as actually trying to use the Wi-Fi to get into someone’s phone and everything, there’s not really a way they could just come and grab a number,” says Philip Biermann, Owner of Iowa Cell Phone and Repair.

Biermann’s been using the device for a little over 2 years and has never had an issue.

He says he would recommend it to any small business owner.

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