If you work in front of any wireless cameras that connect to the Internet, you are vulnerable. IP camera attacks are a real and growing problem at home and work.
The cameras you use to keep an eye on your newsroom, the garage, your home office, a sleeping baby, or family dog have known exploits that could allow a miscreant to watch in real time and sometimes even talk through a device’s speakers.
Make sure that you or your organization’s IT team have changed the default settings in a wireless IP camera’s software. It's imperative that you personalize the login and password. Do not use the one provided by the manufacturer beyond initial setup. And depending on your system, you should change the port your camera uses too.
This won’t make any wireless IP camera completely secure; remember we’re dealing with cyberspace. But you are making it more difficult for someone up to no good to spy on your work. And making things more difficult increases the chances they will simply move on looking for someone more vulnerable to watch.
Also, it’s not just wireless cameras monitoring you. It’s important to protect sensitive data you might accidentally expose if you aren’t careful when publishing a story online or posting to social media.
Did you know that your smartphone photos contain hidden information? It’s called metadata and while it can be useful for storage and editing, you’ll want to remove it from your photos before sharing online. One option is to open your camera app and find the location option in your settings and disable the location access before taking the photos. On an iPhone you’ll need to open the privacy settings and disable the “location services” option.
And check to see what’s in the background of your photos. Did you click a pic of your interview subject sitting at their desk? Did you check to make sure that no identifiable personal information can be seen in the papers scattered across the desk or the computer screen behind them? If it’s data you wouldn’t share about yourself, don’t share it about your source.
This includes paperwork showing account numbers, a physical address, Social Security number, photo of an open or partially open passport, medical records, and especially any documentation giving any details about their children. You might consider moving framed photos of their children out of the shot to better protect your source’s family.
Photos tell a story—just make sure it’s the story you actually intend to share instead of unknowingly exposing you or your source's personal data to the wrong audience.