HOUSTON – A Texas mother called it her “worst nightmare” – a hacked webcam in her daughters’ bedroom streaming everything live online.
A mother of three, including the two 8-year-old girls who share the bedroom, asked to be identified only by her first name, Jennifer. She told ABC News that she discovered the chilling live feed when another concerned mother posted a screenshot in a Facebook group for Houston mothers.
“We have security cameras to protect them,” Jennifer told ABC. “I feel like I’ve failed. … People are watching my kids in their home, dressing, sleeping, playing.”
The Oregon woman who posted the image said she was looking for satellite images of Earth with her son when she decided to download the free app Live Camera Viewer.
The app taps into surveillance feeds from around the world, from a tiger enclosure in a Japanese zoo to an intersection in Guadalajara, Mexico. Some of the cameras are clearly not publicly run – bedrooms, hotel rooms and home surveillance cameras can also be found on the app.
The feeds are sorted by the number of “likes” from app users. Jennifer said she believes her daughters’ bedroom had been streaming since at least late July, and had 571 likes – meaning that at least that many people had been watching the feed.
Security experts said that the hackers likely found the family’s IP address by accessing her daughter’s iPad through a video game the girls were playing, Jennifer said. They apparently then took control of the cameras through the family’s modem and DVR system.
Jennifer told ABC she’s not allowing her children on the internet now, saying “I just can’t chance it again.”
She urges other parents to stay vigilant when it comes to their children’s online activities.