By: Elizabeth Libro
People created baby monitors for the protection of children. They were created with the idea that children should be kept safe. They allowed an attendant, if too far removed from the child, to hear when an infant woke up or if there was a problem that arose. It is unsettling to think that someone would want to hack into a baby monitor. Why in the world would someone want to do that? While technology advances in the realm of baby-monitors, this fear is unfortunately becoming a harsh reality.
Rapid 7, a cyber security firm, addressed this subject in a recent report. Hacking loT: A case Study on Baby Monitor Exposures and Vulnerabilities, examines several popular web-based baby monitors. The report details how these monitors lack basic security features, making them vulnerable to even the most basic form of hacking. It further explains why hackers want to hack into such devices. Some instances have been reported showing that predators hack baby monitors to watch sleeping children. The most common reason for hacking into these devices, however, is that it provides access to other Wi-Fi enabled devices in a home, such as a personal computer or security systems. It is a scary thought that by taking steps to protect your child, you could also be put in jeopardy of getting such secure information stolen. Who can be held liable if something like this occurs?
There are many people who think that, in addition to the hacker being guilty of hacking these devices, the creators of web based baby-monitors should also be held liable for failing to make the devices as safe as possible, which enables others to hack into the devices. As a result, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Keeping Kids Safe Act of 2010, which requires the Federal Communications Commission to demand companies to display a label on the packaging of web-based baby-monitors, warning the monitor may be susceptible to being intercepted by intruders. The bill was created not only to protect manufacturers of baby-monitors, but also to warn parents about the potential threats posed from purchasing such devices.
Manufacturer’s of baby-monitors are using best efforts to keep monitors as safe as possible. However, with advancements in technology, it is difficult for manufacturers to keep up with the ever-expanding technology. The creation of the Keeping Kids Safe Act of 2010 is admirable. Since technology is advancing everyday and hackers keep searching for new ways to intrude into peoples personal lives this bill keeps both manufacturers and families safe. Having manufacturers put warning labels on their products indemnifies them from liability of hackers because they are giving consumers notice that the monitor, even though safe, may be susceptible to intruders hacking the system. In turn, this is keeping families safe by addressing the issue that web-based baby-monitors are vulnerable and may not be the best option available to them.
Bio: Elizabeth Libro is a staff member of the Journal of High Technology Law. She is currently a 2L at Suffolk University Law School. She holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.