People could be being watched in their homes and offices via a Russian-based website showing live footage broadcast from webcams, the UK’s privacy watchdog has warned.
The website contains thousands of live feeds from baby monitors, computer webcams and CCTV cameras.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has urged people to upgrade their passwords to protect themselves from hackers.
The website features almost 600 live feeds from homes and businesses across the UK, including a gym in Manchester, a bedroom in Birmingham, and an office in Leicester.
Some of the feeds appear to be monitoring children’s bedrooms, farmyard animals, and one even shows an elderly woman sitting in their living room.
Simon Rice, ICO group manager for technology, said: “The website, which is based in Russia, accesses the information by using the default login credentials, which are freely available online, for thousands of cameras.
“The footage is being collected from security cameras used by businesses and members of the public, ranging from CCTV networks used to keep large premises secure, down to built-in cameras on baby monitors.
“This is a threat that all of us need to be aware of and be taking action to protect against.”
Many people use webcams to monitor their homes remotely while they are away, viewing the footage over the internet.
But Mr Rice warned: “The ability to access footage remotely is both an internet cameras biggest selling point and, if not set up correctly, potentially its biggest security weakness. Remember, if you can access your video footage over the internet, then what is stopping someone else from doing the same?
“You may think that having to type in an obscure web address to access the footage provides some level of protection. However, this will not protect you from the remote software that hackers often use to scan the internet for vulnerable devices. In some cases, insecure cameras can be identified using nothing more than an internet search engine.
“As a last resort, you can always cover the lens if you don’t want to use the camera all of the time.”
The website says on its homepage that it is “fully legal”, adding: “This site has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings.
“To remove your public camera from this site and make it private the only thing you need to do is to change your camera default password.”