Private webcams left unsecured on internet

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Thousands of private security webcams are publicly viewable from the internet and are not being secured from cyber peeping toms and hackers, SC Magazine has learned from an investigation.

A simple query using the Google search engine revealed more than 2,000 webcams supposedly off-limits to normal internet users.

Our investigations led us to observe many webcams. While a lot of them were innocuous views of picturesque scenery, some were inside office buildings, where company secrets could be open to prying eyes. Some could even be remotely controlled.

According to a post on a science website forum BoingBoing, a simple search string on Google will reveal a multitude of insecure webcams.

"This is both very cool and very scary," said one poster who goes by the moniker of "Xeni".. "Use this search string below with Google, and you will find dozens (hundreds?) of unsecured webcam feeds (most seem to be security cams)."

Users are urged to password protect sensitive cameras and make sure they are hidden from search engines by excluding their IP addresses in website robots.txt files.

Jon Collins, principal analyst at IT consultancy Quocirca, said the problem was a "symptom rather than a cause" of bad security practices.

He said this has happened because organizations have failed to implement proper security policies.

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