FTC: Webcam Company’s Lax Security Led To Invasions Of Privacy

(artnchicken)

Not one of the devices in question. (artnchicken)

It’s all fun and Internet-connected games until someone gets spied on, says the Federal Trade Commission in a recent action it’s taking to protect consumers from seemingly innocent digital devices. The Internet of Things makes it so we can be online all the time, with our appliances, vehicles and many other objects we interact with on a daily basis. But the FTC is warning customers about webcams from TRENDnet that might not be so secure.

The FTC is penalizing the company, it said in a statement on Wednesday, saying it told customers that its products — which include cameras for home security and baby monitoring, reports the New York Times — were totally on the up-and-up and super safe.

But the FTC says the devices were compromised by a hacker in January 2012, who slipped in by way of a security flaw and posted links to the live feeds. That means people could see babies snoozing in cribs and families doing what families do.

“The Internet of Things holds great promise for innovative consumer products and services,” Edith Ramirez, the commission’s chairwoman, said in a statement. “But consumer privacy and security must remain a priority as companies develop more devices that connect to the Internet.”

This lapse was possible, says the FTC, because TRENDnet sent customers’ login info over the Internet in normal text, instead of simply encrypting the data, among other things. Once it realized what was going on, it uploaded a software to its site and alerted customers.

Despite that, the FTC says consumers “had little, if any, reason to know that their information was at risk.”

TRENDnet has agreed to sanctions like a 20-year security compliance auditing program, and has pledged not to misrepresent the security of its cameras, or how confidential it is when devices transmit info.

F.T.C. Says Webcam’s Flaw Put Users’ Lives on Display [New York Times]
TRENDnet FTC Statement [TRENDnet]