VTech baby monitors have been allowing parents an affordable way to keep an eye and an ear on their baby when they’re in another part of the house.
This peace of mind is a godsend to parents, however, there has been quite a stir about the potentiality of baby monitors being targeted by hackers.
This may have left you wondering if your VTech baby monitor is at risk.
Here’s If VTech Baby Monitors Can Be Hacked:
It’s possible for hackers to get into your VTech monitor and see what you’re seeing. VTech has done everything they can to make sure your monitor is secure. Unless someone has access to your specific monitor ID and password, they won’t be able to get in.
Can VTech Baby Monitors be Hacked?
VTech baby monitors rely on a Wi-Fi connection to transmit images and sounds.
As with other Wi-Fi devices, there are security risks.
However, although it is unlikely that someone would want to hack your baby monitor, VTech baby monitors employ DECT to offer additional encryption.
Further steps can be taken to secure your router and camera unit, greatly reducing the chance of your VTech baby monitor from being hacked.
Why Does My VTech Baby Monitor Sound Like It’s Being Hacked?
It’s understandable that with all the information out there on the risks of your baby monitor being hacked you may be listening out for signs that your VTech baby monitor has indeed become compromised.
Any sound which is out of the ordinary, or unexpected, can strike fear of parents and lead them to believe that these strange sounds signal that a hacker has targeted their VTech baby monitor.
The reality is often much less nefarious, and in fact, is because of more everyday causes.
Unexpected Sounds That Are Commonly Misunderstood as the Sounds of a Hacker Are as Follows:
- Distorted sounds
Don’t panic if you’ve experienced any of those noises. These are not sounds that should alarm you.
The cause for feedback, static, and distortion is usually because of placing your units.
Placement Of Your VTech Baby Monitor Can Cause Unexpected Sounds
If the parent unit and the baby unit of your VTech device are too close together then a feedback loop can occur which will cause a high-pitched squealing.
Conversely, if the two units are too far away from each other then static and distortion may be heard from your parent unit.
- Check the manual for your specific VTech baby monitor.
- Learn exactly what the optimal range for your model is.
- Place your two units within that range.
- If you hear feedback then your units are far too close together.
Clicking Sounds From Your VTech Baby Monitor Is Not An Indicator That Your Unit Has Been Hacked
Some users have reported, and been disturbed by, a clicking sound from their VTech baby monitor.
This noise has sparked concern that it could mean their VTech unit is compromised, however, there is a very good reason for this noise.
- VTech baby monitors will occasionally ‘click’ or ‘spark’.
- This noise is due to the unit detecting the light in the room.
- Your VTech baby monitor uses an infrared cut-off filter lens which is extended or withdrawn depending on the time of day, and or, the ambient light in the environment.
- The sparking and clicking noise is the lens becoming active and switching between different modes.
- You cannot stop the unit from making this noise and you can be safe in the knowledge that this feature is ensuring that your VTech baby monitor produces decent video quality no matter what the lighting conditions in the room.
Read our other blog here about 8 problems with VAVA baby monitors.
Why Would Someone Hack A Baby Monitor?
The likely hood of someone hacking your baby monitor is very slim, so there is no need to panic- unless you are a celebrity or politician!
There are 3 main reasons why somebody would want to do this, and they are as follows.
- Those wanting to spy – Voyeurs may get entertainment from watching the events inside a family home.
- For a practical joke – although incredibly distasteful, some people out there find hilarity in waking you up in the middle of the night talking over a baby monitor.
- Criminals – are individuals who are willing to perform the illegal activity by hacking a family home’s baby monitor.
Why Would A Criminal Want To Hack My Baby Monitor?
Of all the reasons previously mentioned, the most troubling is those willing to hack a baby monitor to undergo illegal activities.
However unlikely, this type of crime has not gone unnoticed over the past few years.
As you may know, the technology available for baby monitors comes in 2 main forms:
- Radio baby monitors
- Wi-Fi baby monitors
Radio baby monitors work on specific frequencies within a certain range in order to communicate between the parent unit and the camera.
In order to be hacked, an individual would need to be within close proximity of either of the units and also know what frequency they are working on.
Fortunately for us, almost all modern baby monitors available use ‘encryption technology’.
This dramatically increases hacking difficulty – so a hacker would need to know how to bypass this safety protocol.
As to why? The main reason for a criminal to hack a radio baby monitor would be to understand when the family is in the house and when the house is vacated in order to burgle items.
But as previously mentioned, this eventuality is highly unlikely due to how close the individual would need to be.
With Wi-Fi baby monitors, it’s rather different. This type of baby monitor can be hacked from anywhere around the world, but again, it is not a simple endeavor.
If in the rare and unfortunate circumstance a criminal is able to hack into your home Wi-Fi, they may gain access to private data such as passwords and banking details.
Once they have access to your home network, they may have access to other devices too.
However, most modern routers available come equipped with Network Address Translation (NAT), which prevents unauthorized access.
Are There Any Reports Of VTech Baby Monitors Being Hacked?
Finding out that the brand of baby monitor you own has been the target of hacking is extremely disturbing and, if you do a quick google search, you’d be forgiven for thinking that VTech baby monitors have indeed become the target of a hack.
However, on closer inspection, you will learn that it is not the units that came under attack, but rather, the company itself.
Unfortunately, there were real consequences to this hack:
- The company VTech had its servers hacked using SQL injection.
- SQL injection inserts a code into areas of websites where users will add their personal information.
- VTech’s website was not using SSL which offers security to both website and users.
- This loophole was used by the hacker who stole:
- Email addresses
- Security Questions
- IP addresses
- Download History
- Children’s names, including their date of birth and gender
- This hack occurred on 14th November 2012.
- Since then, VTech has improved the security on their site.
However, as Time reported, this:
“cyberattack targeting Hong Kong-based children’s toy manufacturer VTech has left millions of accounts compromised.”
The good news here is that this is now somewhat ancient history, and more importantly, did not show that it compromised the baby units themselves.
2012 also saw many companies, including Sony, have their websites hacked.
Can You Check If A Baby Monitor Is Being Hacked?
Fortunately, there are certain signs that you can recognize to see whether they have hacked your baby monitor.
Here are some examples to watch out for:
- The camera is panning across the room without your instruction to do so.
- They locked you out of your device. This is a sign a hacker has changed the security key.
- Abnormal LED light blinking. This can be a sign someone is live streaming the feed through another unauthorized device.
- Familiarize yourself with what certain LED flashes are normal and those that aren’t.
- Strange noises or unfamiliar voices emanating from your baby monitor.
Can You Protect A VTech Baby Monitor From Hackers?
VTech baby monitors rely on a Wi-Fi connection to transmit signals from the camera/baby unit to the parent unit.
You should consider your VTech baby monitor to only be as susceptible to hacking as you would any other Wi-Fi-reliant device.
There are however some great tips that you can take on board to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your VTech baby monitor as protected as possible.
- Passwords are only as good as you make them…
- Strong passwords are your ally in the silent battle between users and hackers.
- Never use the same password on multiple devices or accounts.
- Never use the default password that came with your device.
- If you can change the password on your camera – do it!
- Remember, passwords for your router need to be top-notch, too.
- Your router is a way in. Don’t make it appealing.
- Ensure that your router’s firmware is regularly updated.
- It’s essential that ‘remote access’ is disabled.
- Avoid giving your Wi-Fi details to visitors, unless you trust them implicitly.
- Enable encryption.
- Switch your router’s firewall on.
- Buy a WPA3 router – they include much more powerful security.
- Keep your VTech baby monitor regularly updated.
- Updates allow VTech to provide your devices with up-to-date security protocols.
Are VTech Baby Monitors Encrypted?
VTech baby monitors use Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) which allows for a 64-bit encryption key.
- DECT has built-in security encryption protocols.
- DECT allows VTech baby monitors to send data, video, and audio, via an encrypted signal.
- Hackers could try to exploit and hack this system, however, it is very unlikely.
“VTech didn’t make it on the list of baby monitors that had known hacking vulnerabilities.”
Can VTech Baby Monitors Be Hacked When Not On Wi-Fi
VTech baby monitors can work both on and off Wi-Fi. They come with 64-bit encrypted technology, making them incredibly difficult to hack whether they are connected or disconnected to your home network.
Sadly there is no way to be 100% certain that your monitor will never be hacked as there is always some degree of risk. However, the chances are very slim.
If you are worried – VTech state:
“You can enhance the security of your HD video monitor by regularly changing the security key(s) of your baby unit(s).”
Do note: You will have to re-pair your child unit and parent unit when you do this.
Read our blog here about can you use a wi-fi baby monitor without wi-fi?
- Which: Could my baby monitor get hacked?
- Groovy Post: Yes, Your Video Baby Monitor Can Be Hacked. No, You Don’t Have to Stop Using It
- VTech: Why is my baby unit making a click or spark sound?
- CNBC: VTech hack: Data of 6.4M kids exposed